Fantasy tales about the end of civilisation aren’t that uncommon. After all, Lord of The Rings is all about preventing an apocalypse of sorts. Peter V. Brett’s Demon Cycle books take the interesting approach that the end has already come. In this case, an advanced society has been utterly ruined by the arrival and domination of hordes of Demons.
The Skull Throne is the fourth book in Peter V Brett’s five-book series, the Demon Cycle. After an explosive start with the first two books, the third part, The Daylight War was a bit of a low point. However, as soon as we dive into The Skull Throne, it quickly becomes obvious that Brett knows exactly what he’s doing. The book is very steadily paced – this a slow burn and much of it focuses on the interpersonal relationships between various characters.
There’s an awful lot of intensely social drama; Brett spends much of his time on the lives of the people of Cutter’s Hollow (a key region in the Demon Cycle books), but the bulk of the drama here is all about interpersonal relationships and people skills. There is a lot of talk about love, dating and babies here and though this sets up the characters for the more exciting scenes, it does drag the pace a little. They do make the more exciting sequences all the more rewarding however.
Much of the action comes from various exploits involving the violent land of Krasia. Those wanting to know more about the two ‘Deliverers’ Arlen and Jadir should be warned; The Skull Throne is not really about them. The Skull Throne of Krasia is still empty thanks to events of previous novels, and the prophecy still stands; whoever sits upon the throne will have the power to end the demon war and save the world. Instead, we see a new villain in Jayn, a man with a chip on his shoulder and a lust for power. As his growing comes ever closer to power, his enemies scrabble around to form the alliances they need to avoid annihilation.
They are plenty of action-packed key scenes peppered throughout the book. The demons are mostly added as a spice here; Brett is setting up his world and the characters in order to tell his epic fantasy tale in a way that is both personal and global. It’s a page-turner, and quite possibly the best so far.
If it weren't for the fact that we have to wait for the conclusion, we’d have given this top marks. But we’re going to knock a point of off for making us wait. Read this and join us in eagerly anticipating the next book.
THE SKULL THRONE (THE DEMON CYCLE BOOK 4) / AUTHOR: PETER V. BRETT / PUBLISHER: HARPER VOYAGER / RELEASE DATE: JANUARY 28TH