April 19th, 2008, 01:50 PM
I can see in the dark
Hmm. I read the Briar King a while ago, and I think I gave up when I got fed up with the twee characters.
Do they get a bit more gritty, or are the goody goody guys always goody goody?
April 19th, 2008, 03:18 PM
I found the books good but kinda bland, i read them all but only because i bought them all before i read the Briar King. The world is very detailed and some of the characters as well but i thought that none of them really evolved no matter what happened to them.
***Mild Spoilers bellow***
Also too many problems are resolved too easily, like how do the good guys kill a huge monster that cant be killed by conventional means? give the characters that encounter them a magic arrow that can kill anything, or if the bad guys have the good guys dead to rights and how do they escape? turns out that guy next to the bad has magical powers never really shown untill they were needed. ( i wont post any others because im new here and i dont know how to hide spoilers yet )
April 19th, 2008, 05:49 PM
Sitting beside me, right now, is a copy of The Born Queen. I intend to start it later today, and look forward to it very much, [though part of that is probably because this is the first time I've really gotten to sit down with a book in almost a month.] I've quite enjoyed the series up to this point, though I thought an overly frenetic pace and sense of cluttering weakened The Blood Knight.
While he's not my favourite current epic fantasist, one thing that I find very appealing in Keyes's stuff is that he gives his good characters permission to ... well ... be good, without making them completely morally simple. Don't get me wrong: I love The First Law, and ASoIaF, etc, but I'm starting to get very weary of the privilege sometimes given to antihero stories, which frequently concern characters who are to one degree or another badass. It seems to me that "gritty" is occasionally used as a synonym for "really good", and I like that Keyes steps away from that without by any means turning the story into a trip to Disney Land.
Anyhow, I hope to return later to add my two cents on The Born Queen for any who might be interested.
Last edited by mjolnir; April 29th, 2011 at 02:05 AM.
April 19th, 2008, 06:36 PM
East Indian NASCAR dad
I dont' think that they get more gritty. I know that style seems to be the new "it" cliche of the past few years, but a fantasy that isn't 'gritty' isn't necessarily worse because of the lack of it. Not sure exactly what you mean by goody goody, but the characters do change significantly and grow in depth throughout the series without losing their fundamental goodness.
Originally Posted by horribleman
If you're looking for Lies of Locke Lamora or Prince of Nothing, this isn't it. Which doesn't mean that it still isn't good. Just different.
April 19th, 2008, 06:39 PM
I like to rock the party
The revival of this old thread inspired me to pick up the second book in this series. However, I managed to forget most of the finer details of the first, so an online plot summary may be needed to jog my memory.
April 20th, 2008, 05:37 AM
Yeah that happened too, I got the 4th book, but then figured I didn't know anything about the 1st three.
And I couldn't find any online synopsis type of thing, so I just skim-read the first three instead lol.
April 21st, 2008, 12:01 AM
I'm about halfway through The Born Queen now, and I'm enjoying it a lot. Actually, while I recall the previous books in the series being highly entertaining, I'm slightly surprised by how good this is. Far from flawless, but great fun. Detailed rambling when finished.
So far as recalling what's going on in the story when TBQ begins, I had this problem too. Since I did not have time to reread, I just read through the last two chapters and epilogue of The Blood Knight. Far from a comprehensive reminder, but a fine memory jogger, I found, as you get at least a brief look at pretty much all the major povs. I think that the disorientation that some of us are experiencing is due to the amount that's going on in The Kingdoms of Thorn and Bone; there's really quite a lot happening, far more than the quick pace and only moderate length of the tomes might lead one to believe. [This has both good and bad points imo, but more on that later.]
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Last edited by mjolnir; April 29th, 2011 at 02:05 AM.
April 21st, 2008, 02:46 PM
I think I liked The Born Queen more than most, as I thought it was excellent, and I almost gave it a perfect 10 on the blog. I was slightly disappointed in book 2, but i thought The Blood Knight and The Born Queen were a great ending to the series. Then again, i am a fan of epic fantasy, so i am definitely the target reader for this type of book.
Originally Posted by mjolnir
April 22nd, 2008, 12:55 AM
Bossfan: Another big epic fantasy fan, here, and as I've now finished The Born Queen, I can say I also liked it very much. Far more, in fact, than I liked The Blood Knight.
Speaking of which, I've finished throwing together my impressions of the novel, and they are loooong. Even I am not inconsiderate enough to post them all at once, so: For any who might somehow be interested in some longer thoughts on The Born Queen, here's the first half. I shall post the second bit some time tomorrow. [Oh, and while I tried to go easy on the spoilers there are a couple implicit in there for earlier books, so I'll issue a general warning: "Yar, here there be mild spoilarrs, maties, and be sure ye have read the farst three, afore ye stray into these watars.]:
The Born Queen, the last novel in Greg Keyes?s epic fantasy sequence The Kingdoms of Thorn and Bone, begins four months after the conclusion of its predecessor, The Blood Knight, [which in turn follows The Briar King and The Charnel Prince.] Despite this break in the chronology between books, Keyes jumps right back into the action. Up on your previous knowledge of the current goings on in the kingdoms of Crotheny and Hansa, and the King?s Forest, and that other joint the name of which eludes me? Good. Because Keyes ain?t waiting for you. The reader is pushed directly into the deep end, with an attitude that might be described as ?swim or reread, sucker?, with which fans of Steven Erikson will be familiar
The plot is jolly good fun, and seems to exist primarily to be such. I?m sure there are ?deeper? things to be pulled out of The Kingdoms of Thorn and Bone; [in particular, I noticed some interesting meditations on the nature of honour, and a nicely turned if standard and unsubtle examination of the corrupting influence of power in this last book]. However, the books are first and foremost a ripping fantasy yarn, and to approach them as anything less primal might perhaps do them a disservice. My only real criticisms of the plot are mostly wrapped up in structure, so I?ll save them until I deal with that element of the book. Except for this one, which impacts directly on the presentation of the story, and is nagging at me?
He may have done this as far back as The Briar King ? I don?t really remember ? but some time around the middle of The Charnel Prince Keyes discovered a deep and passionate love for the practice of ending chapters on cliff-hangers, and it is back in full force in The Born Queen. It is annoying. Or, rather, it is annoying when overused, which it is, often. When employed during, say, a harrowing action scene, the device keeps the reader turning pages, creating that ?gottaknowwhathappensnext!? effect that can be so pleasant to get lost in when reading. Thing is, Keyes uses it all the time, often employing the device to make the reader sweat for the characters, believing they are in danger, when really they are not. While again this keeps the pages turning, it?s a cheap trick, and you know this as you read. It lessens the experience, building an event like, say, the arrival of unexpected allies, into something falsely menacing which then looks silly on the rebound, making events that should just be more intriguing pieces of the plot look overhyped and cheesy.
The characters in The Kingdoms of Thorn and Bone could be accused of being fantasy cliches: there is a spoiled princess who grows into her responsibilities; there is a sheltered young nobleman who does likewise; there is a dashing and rakish young swordsman who ? you get the idea. I?ve never seen anything wrong with these archetypes; [after all there must have been something interesting about them for them to become archetypes]; I find that people react against the [old] forms of fantasy perhaps a bit too much on reflex these days. So long as an author can present the characters as interesting personalities, why shouldn?t they be dispossessed young royals, or heroes coming of age, or whatever? Keyes?s characters aren?t the most dynamic out there, and it?s a very good job they don?t have to hold up the book all on their own. However, I did find them very enjoyable to spend time with, and they?re complex enough to keep the story ticking over. I?ve seen some complaints about the characters in Keyes?s stories being too wholly good to get engaged with. First of all, I find this kind of disturbing: I love Tyrion Lannister, Inquisitor Glokta, and their ilk as much as anyone, and genuinely think their creators are taking the genre in new and vital directions, but if we can?t appreciate strong moral characters anymore, perhaps we all need to go back and reread Tolkien or The Belgariad or The Riftwar, [depending on personal preference], until we get it again. Moving on from that, though, I think that Keyes does an excellent job of coaxing out morally rougher aspects of his characters in The Born Queen, without destroying their essential moral centers. Whether all readers will dig the manner in which Keyes prods the narrative around to the revelation of the less appealing qualities of some of his characters is a whole other thing, and I?d venture to guess that some will regard it as rather artificial. [It involves maaaaagic, and I shall pontificate slightly more on the liberal implementation of said magic in the series later.] Ultimately, [stepping carefully around the thorny spoilers, here], this mixture of strong morality with a generous dash of modern fantasy greyness leads us to an ending that combines the magic and joy of a fairy tale?s conclusion with the melancholy and bleakness of something close to real life. Said ending comes on pretty fast, and the denounement is very short. Thus, some people, [including me], may find themselves momentarily shellshocked by the suddenness of it all, but the more I muse on it the more I find the conclusion deeply appropriate to what has come before. In particular, there is symetry to be found in the fates of some of the characters, even if it is a harsh and unforgiving symetry, [I?m thinking especially of Aspar and Anne here.] This symetry, of course, applies only to those who make it to the end.
On the whole, I would describe The Born Queen as a very plot-driven novel, in so far as there is a great deal of focus on a drive towards the end. Personal stories are certainly told, but every character has a purpose ? be it to take center stage in the final conflict, or simply to impart some crucial piece of information ? an by all that is holy they will accomplish that purpose if Keyes has to drag them to it kicking and screaming. No, that came out wrong; for the most part Keyes does an excellent job with character motivation. Even a couple of plot-centric drastic personality shifts which take place around the half way point are integrated fairly smoothly, with other characters commenting on odd behaviour etc. Yet this remains a story with a job to do, and the focus always stays firmly on the drive towards resolution. This gives the book a refreshing punch and sense of purpose, but perhaps deprives it of the depth of character that one might find in, for instance, a Robin Hobb novel.
Last edited by mjolnir; April 29th, 2011 at 02:06 AM.
April 22nd, 2008, 01:13 PM
East Indian NASCAR dad
He did it back as far as The Briar King. It was over-used back then as well, and I like it just as little now. I'm not sure if that's the publisher's doing or the authors, but it does detreact from the story. Jim Butcher, in his excellent Furies of Calderon series, has his books editted in the same fashion.
Originally Posted by mjolnir
April 22nd, 2008, 02:05 PM
Yeah..the cliffhanger chapters were the biggest negative to me throughout the series (other than I thought the Composer storyline was a little weak and unneccesary).
Radone..since we seem to like the same kinda thing, you enjoyed the Codex Alera series? I read book 1 and was just so-so on it. I have heard the remaining books are a nice improvement, though.
April 22nd, 2008, 03:06 PM
East Indian NASCAR dad
Don't mean to hijack Grey Keyes' thread, but yes, the first book in Codex Alera was by far the weakest. It certainly picked up toward the end of the first book, but still Furies of Calderon was a slightly above average book with enough promise that I read book 2. Book 2 was much, much better and the series has continued to get stronger with each subsequent novel. He's using the 'farmboy saves the world' technique, but in this case everyone else is super-powered and the farmboy has no powers except intelligence, grit, and will.
Originally Posted by bossfan2000
April 22nd, 2008, 09:49 PM
Nice to hear I wasn't the only one who found those cliff-hung chapters annoying! Here are the rest of my thoughts:
Structurally, The Born Queen, and by extension the series as a whole, may seem pretty bog standard: We?ve got a bunch of point of view characters, whose narratives proceed linearly and in parallel for the most part, complimenting and occasionally intersecting with one another. Some have referred to Keyes?s work as ?Martin light?, and while I agree with those who reject this term as one that sounds pajoritive I cansee where the comparison comes from on a superficial level: There is a medievalesque kingdom, complete with a semi-chivalric knighthood structure that belies the sordid international politics which permeate the setting. This kingdom has lost its king to filial treachery, and his surviving wife and daughter figure prominently in the main cast. However, while I?d be hesitant to lay direct comparisons of any sort on too thick, some elements of Keyes?s story actually reminded me more of Steven Erikson?s Malazan Book of the Fallen. Yes, the aesthetics of the two series?s setting and characters are entirely different, [with Thorn and Bone set within a generally faux medieval framework, and Malazan within a combination of tribal culture and the wicked cool contents of Erikson?s diseased mind]; I?m talking more about the structured nature of magic, -- the Warrens and Holds in Malazan, and the three Thrones in The Born Queen -- and the proliferation and variation of that magic?s effects within the setting. Keyes?s system is far less intricate, to be sure, but the story?s approach to it is airy and indistinct in a way similar to that of Malazan; we are not given concrete information about how most elements of magic work until relatively late in the day, and are still left to work out some of the permutations for ourselves. This may lead down the road to fantastical overload for some, as while in retrospect its clear that, [again much like Erikson], Keyes has the whole performance mapped out and under control, the sudden, rapid-fire introduction of new magical elements can seem like deus ex machina at the time. Also, while it may not seem so at first, there?s actually a lot going on in The Kingdoms of Thorn and Bone, particularly for a series that?s fairly brief and slender by the standards of fat alternate realm epics. Granted, the story is fairly straight forward in terms of chronology, but I think that here again there are minor similarities to Erikson?s saga. Villains and magical conundrums both bloom in terrible profusion, vaguely like a much slimmer and less far-reaching version of Erikson?s labyrinthine epic ? thing.
The clip at which the series moves may also be worth mentioning. No Thorn and Bone installment runs over 500 pages in hardback, and The Born Queen is the shortest. While that may not seem short, when you?re following the exploits of seven different point of view characters, who in turn have various characters attached to them and aminimum of two or three baddies a piece looking to kill them, those pages go by pretty fast. Most of the explication of the various supernatural forces that underly the plot, while it is certainly there and handled deftly, can be missed if you blink too slow, and character introspection is kept pretty much to a minimum. Peaceable, relaxed interaction between the characters is right out, particularly in The Born Queen. While I can see this being very refreshing indeed in a secondary world epic of this kind, [particularly if you?ve, say, just finished reading 600 pages of Rand All?Thor angsting about how nobody loves him anymore], it can leave the reader a little breathless and disoriented at times. The breakneck pace also seems to me slightly at odds with the broad sweep and sense of history and myth which Keyes seems to be striving for, but, again, it is refreshing. These two last points in combination may be part of the reason that some readers, [myself included], have had some trouble keeping what is going on in The Kingdoms of Thorn and Bone straight: there is really rather a lot to contend with, and it happens very fast.
Given this situation of a plot that is both fast-paced like an action flick and multi-stranded, [two things that don?t traditionally jive], I think that Keyes showed splendid judgment in moving so strongly towards the end. With the addition of any more threats / shadowy new players / major add-ons to the magic system, the entire structure of the series might have collapsed under the weight of it all, as a lot of the more supernatural elements are not really supported by a lot of exposition. Wrapping The Kingdoms of Thorn and Bone up decisively as Keyes did preserves it as a well turned tale of mysticism and forces of inexplicable power, whereas extending it much further might well have transformed it into little more than a series of plot-driven magicl lightshows and deus ex machinas.
The writing supports the fast pace of the story by being fairly fluid and easy to read. The sentences tend toward the long and flowing rather than the short and clipped, but for the most part they are very clear and informative. The lengthy bouts of surrealism later on, [a hallmark of the magical landscapes which some of the characters can access], require slightly more attention. On the whole the story is easy to read and fairly straight up in its descriptive passages, but still packs some nice imagery into the concise flow of its prose: ?The land bristles shadow, and throws off the sun.]
The Born Queen, for me, is one of those works where I could carp about a lot of little things: I?d have liked to see some other point of view characters, [particularly one Brinna], as I think what was going on in their heads is essential to the plot. By the same token, the pov pie is already divided up enough ways that, whenever something big starts going down over in one thread, at least one other thread gets lost and doesn?t get picked up again for longer than would be ideal. [The composer Leoff often took this fall in this last book.] Several major plot developments are either skated over too quickly to have the proper emotional oomph, or could be accused of being deus ex machinas hiding behind pretty magical lights. But, really, those would be little things. Because it is a good story. It may not be for everyone, but I, at least, think it is a good story. Not the best story, not a story that will ?transcend genre?, [hate that phrase], not a story that will ?revolutionize? anything, but a good story. And again, asking anything else of it would, I think, be attempting to make it into something it is not.
So, basically, two thousand words later, I thought it was a fine example of wonderfully solid epic fantasy. And its complete! In a number of volumes which can be counted on the fingers of a single hand! What more do you want!
Last edited by mjolnir; April 29th, 2011 at 02:07 AM.
May 15th, 2008, 07:59 AM
I find these books to be fairly "standard" fantasy. I've enjoyed them so far, but found little about them that particularly sticks out. I'm waiting for the last book of the series to be released in paperback, and am looking forwards to having the series finished. I've read some negative reviews though, so I'm half expecting to be a little dissapointed. Fortunately, the series as a whole has not built up any major expectations or a particular desire within me to know what happens. I expect the ending to be fairly "blagh", so I'm more looking forwards to the actual process of the characters reaching that point rather than seeing how it all concludes.
June 20th, 2008, 11:18 AM
I thoroughly enjoyed the Born Queen and I really only have a couple complaints. I think I need to reread the whole series, because the parts with Stephen seemed very random, and some of the supernatural battles toward the end were somewhat glossed over. I dunno if I was looking for a "magical light show", but had keyes put some of that dark whimsical prose to use when say, Stephen took on Hespero, I think it would have made for some juicy reading.
Also, I found with Aspar and Neil Keyes displays wonderful imagination for how they approach their violent encounters. without spoiling anything, there is a certain scene involving Aspar, some arrows, and a nice break that I thought was just such a great commentary on his character and at the same time was so badass I was blown away. Neil's thought process and reverie before his last fight was pretty compelling too. I've seen people hate on Neil a lot but I found his story to be consistently enjoyable throughout the story.
I think the main thing I like about this story is that is subtle about how good it is. By that I mean, while I found it to be very good reading I never felt like I was being beaten over the head with how great it was. The dark, horror-like aspect of it all was a nice touch too.
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