Review: Skullsworn (Chronicle of the Unhewn Throne #0.5) by Brian Staveley

Genre: Fantasy
Publisher: Tor
Hardcover: 304 pages
Audio: 15 hours and 21 min


5/5 Stars

*Originally reviewed on*

First and foremost, buy this freaking book. You already know Staveley is a fantastic writer if you read his Unhewn Trilogy (which, if you haven’t, do yourself a favor) and this novel is no different. Unlike myself, because I enjoy letting all of the words sink in through every pore, anyone can pick up Skullsworn, sink their teeth in, and finish with relative ease, as it is only about 300 pages. The writing is beautiful and mesmerizing, the world-building is vividly imagined and thoroughly detailed, and the characters will bring out personal cheers and exultations from the reader.

One who is right, and one who is wrong.
A singer snared in a web of song
Deliver them, deliver them
Into his million-fingered hands.
Deliver to him a dealer of death,
Severed from life, shorn of breath.
Deliver a mother, ripe with new life.
Find the kindness in the sharpest knife.
Deliver to him a giver of names;
There are no words in his domain.
When these are safe inside his hands,
One more remains,
One more remains
Give to the god the one who made your mind
And body sing with live
Who will not come again.

This is the test/trial for our strong, female protagonist, Pyrre. She is an acolyte to Ananshael, the God of Death, and to become a priestess, she has fourteen days to deliver these seven to her God. The killing comes easy, for the most part, as she has trained for this almost her entire life, but when love enters in, will she be able to pass the trial? Pyrre has never been in or known true love, at least that is what she thinks. If she can’t complete her trial and find what love truly means, she will have to offer herself to Ananshael. She must travel through croc-infested marshes, deal with the dangers hidden within, and come across peoples thought dead or myth to prove herself to her God.

“A grape tastes like a grape? Of course not. Until you bite the grape, it has no taste. It might as well be a stone plucked from the cold current of some river in autumn: a smooth, chill orb, reticent, flavorless. You could hold it trapped between your palate and tongue forever, only the faintest hint of juice at the tiny breach where it was plucked from the stem.
You are like that grape – plump with slick, rich sweetness, with wet purple life. The truth of life is the grape’s truth: only when jaws bite down, when the skin splits, when the sun-cold flesh explodes onto the tongue does it matter. Without the moment of its own destruction, the grape is just a smooth, colorful stone. Without the foreknowledge of the woman who holds it in her hand, her anticipation, before it even passes her lips, of the mangled skin and the sweet life draining over the tongue, the grape would hold no savor.”

Like I said before, the writing is beautiful and mesmerizing and that quote just did it for me.

Last thing, and this needs to be mentioned, Elizabeth Knowelden killed the narration. With some tough Simon Vance-filled shoes to fit into, she was flawless in bringing out the essence and passion of the story. Each character stood alone with their own voice, which is what you need to make an audiobook worth the time and money invested. Kudos to her and I hope that Skullsworn is her ticket to more gigs.

Amazon | Audible | Barnes & Noble | Google Play | Kobo

5 Comments Add yours

  1. Loved this one. Pyrre was one of my favorites from the main series.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I need to go back and finish the main series. I went through Book 1 and really enjoyed it. Too many books, too little time.


      1. petrikleo says:

        I’m the other way around, I’ve read the main trilogy but haven’t read this one. I will correct that before the end of the year though because coincidentally, my girlfriend just bought me a hardcopy of Skullsworn a week ago! :’)

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I absolutely loved this one. Glad to hear the narration did it service

    Liked by 1 person

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