For one apprentice assassin, the clock is ticking . . .
Pyrre Lakatur doesn’t like the description skullsworn. It doesn’t capture the beauty of her devotion to Ananshael, God of Death. And she’s not an assassin, but a priestess. Or she will be, if she can pass her final trial. The problem isn’t killing, as Pyrre has spent her life training for this. The problem is love. To pass the trial, she will have fourteen days to kill seven people detailed in an ancient song, including one true love, ‘who will not come again’. However, Pyrre has never been in love, time is short, and if she fails she’ll be given to her god.
Pyrre’s not afraid to die, but she hates to fail. So a month before the trial begins, she returns to the violent city of her birth, where she once offered an abusive father to the god. Here Pyrre hopes to find love – and end it with the edge of her knife.
I don’t even know where to start with this review, I don’t think a book has affected me so deeply, has got right into my heart and torn it out the way this has in years. I felt completely broken by this book by the time I finished it. Was a mess of tears trying to battle my way through the final pages not quite believing the direction the book had taken and how it was ending.
Skullsworn is a standalone novel connected to the Chronicle of the Unhewn Throne series, which having now read this I am deeply ashamed to have not started, and will be rectifying at the first opportunity I get. Our main protagonist is Pyrre, a trainee Priestess of Ananshael, the God of Death. These Priests and Priestess’ are known as the Skullsworn more commonly outside of their order, although Pyrre makes it very clear this is not a term of endearment in her eyes and it doesn’t fully represent just how her devotion to the Ananshael works.
She’s at the end of her training and must complete a trial to become a full Priestess, kill seven very particular types of people and nobody else within a two week window, this is not something she has an issue with, she is a trained assassin. But the final person is an issue, it is must be someone she loves, except she has never loved anyone. So travelling to the city she was born in Dombâng, with her Witnesses Kossal and Ela, she pursues the only man she has ever come close to loving in the hope she can rekindle their relationship.
Ruc Lan Lac once a professional fighter and now Leader of the Greenshirts is the man Pyrre intends to pursue and kill once she falls in love.
Now this book had the set up for everything a girl like me who loves fantasy and romance could possibly want, a beautifully in depth fantasy world with some of the best world building I’ve encountered in a long time, I could smell the different parts of the town as I read (and honestly didn’t want to some of the time, nope really didn’t want to) I could perfectly see the areas travelled to they were so perfectly described. And yet the characterisation wasn’t let down at all for this. The characters were given ample time to build their stories, with the romance element worked on the way I love although in true fantasy fashion nothing went the way I would expect it to!
Some of this book was funny, some of it was sad, some of it was heartbreaking, some of it was beautiful. There were many life lessons, some we definitely shouldn’t bring into our world! I love Ela who was the Priestess who aside from being a Witness to Pyrre was also a guide to her and she spent a lot of time talking and offering her advise much like a big sister would.
The fighting wasn’t cut down on because of the more unusual angle of the story, there was the expected amount of swordplay, blood and carnage throughout the book with it starting very early on. Pyrre accidentally triggers a rebellion with horrendous consequences in her quest to fulfil her trial which is thrilling.
I recommend this book highly, as highly as I possibly can. Now I’m still piecing myself together so I need to find those pieces of my soul if you please.
A huge thanks to Brian Staveley and Tor UK for the eARC so that I could read and honestly review this novel.
Book & Buy Links
Series: Chronicle of the Unhewn Throne #0
Author: Brian Staveley
Genre: Fantasy | Epic Fantasy | Romance
Publisher: Tor UK
Publication Date: 20 April 2017
Review Format: eBook
Other Formats: Paperback | Hardcover | Audio
Buy: Amazon UK | Amazon US | Waterstones | Foyles | Book Depository | SpeedyHen