cover image Skullsworn


Brian Staveley. Tor, $27.99 (320p) ISBN 978-0-7653-8987-9

In this dramatic epic fantasy set in the same world as the Chronicle of the Unhewn Throne, Staveley (The Last Mortal Bond) explores the relationship between love and death. Acolyte Pyrre is determined to pass her trial and become a full-fledged priestess of Ananshael, the god of death. To do this, she has to kill seven people in 14 days, including “the one who made your mind and body sing with love.” Since Pyrre has never experienced love, she returns to the city of her birth to foment rebellion and reconnect with an old companion in hopes of finding a romantic spark. As she delves into the Shirvian delta and its myriad dangers alongside the handsome Ruc Lan Lac, investigating the mystery of long-forgotten gods and hidden peoples, Pyrre struggles to define love and understand what it means to serve her god. Lush, evocative descriptions sharpen the setting, which recalls Southeast Asia. Visceral action scenes and memorable characters bring this tale to life. Despite the outsize aspects of this adventure, it still feels remarkably intimate, right up to an epilogue that casts the book’s events in a whole new light. (Apr.)