Hotly anticipated doesn’t quite cut the mustard as a means of describing the excitement surrounding the publication of The Skull Throne, and though the fourth volume of Peter V. Brett’s bestselling fantasy saga is almost upon us, it wasn’t until this week that we knew what it would look like.
The design isn’t quite as striking as I’d like, but it’s what happens under the covers that counts, and from the synopsis it sounds as if The Skull Throne stands a chance of making up for the momentum The Demon Cycle lost in The Daylight War.
The Skull Throne of Krasia stands empty.
Built from the skulls of fallen generals and demon princes, it is a seat of honour and ancient, powerful magic, keeping the demon corelings at bay. From atop the throne, Ahmann Jardir was meant to conquer the known world, forging its isolated peoples into a unified army to rise up and end the demon war once and for all.
But Arlen Bales, the Warded Man, stood against this course, challenging Jardir to a duel he could not in honour refuse. Rather than risk defeat, Arlen cast them both from a precipice, leaving the world without a saviour, and opening a struggle for succession that threatens to tear the Free Cities of Thesa apart.
In the south, Inevera, Jardir’s first wife, must find a way to keep their sons from killing one another and plunging their people into civil war as they strive for glory enough to make a claim on the throne.
In the north, Leesha Paper and Rojer Inn struggle to forge an alliance between the duchies of Angiers and Miln against the Krasians before it is too late.
Caught in the crossfire is the duchy of Lakton—rich and unprotected, ripe for conquest.
All the while, the corelings have been growing stronger, and without Arlen and Jardir there may be none strong enough to stop them.
Only Renna Bales may know more about the fate of the missing men, but she, too, has disappeared…
What a lot of plot!
No wonder the novel’s logline—“darkness will rise as heroes fall”—suggests some of our favourite characters won’t make it through the events of The Skull Throne unscathed. You ask me, it’s about time some of these darlings died.
In any case, let’s take a closer look at that cover:
Correct me if I’m wrong, but that’s Rojer, right? Happy as I am to see him take pride of place, he looks to my eye like a confused cosplayer rather than the sort of striking character showcased on the other covers.
In happier news, Peter V. Brett will be touring the UK in support of The Skull Throne’s publication, beginning with a book launch at Forbidden Planet in Shaftesbury Ave on April 9th, taking in talks and whatnot—in Manchester, Birmingham, Bristol and number of other English cities—before ending with a single signing in Scotland on the 16th.
If you’re unable to make it to any of the aforementioned dates, you’ll just have to make do with reading what might be the most exciting new fantasy novel of 2015.
Isn’t it nice when everyone wins?
Niall Alexander is an extra-curricular English teacher who reads and writes about all things weird and wonderful for The Speculative Scotsman, Strange Horizons, and Tor.com. He’s been known to tweet, twoo.