Skullsworn by Brian Staveley

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Skullsworn by Brian Staveley

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Category: Fantasy
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: Olivia Tierney
Reviewed by Olivia Tierney
Summary: An exciting and brilliant novel, Skullsworn has pace, mythology, assassins and hilarious dialogue. Intriguing and detailed with great structure, Brian Staveley's novel is definitely one to read.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 320 Date: April 2017
Publisher: Tor
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-1509822959

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"Love is like killing," she said. "You do it with every part of you, or not at all.”

Pyrre is a skullsworn; one who is devoted to the God of Death. Trained as an assassin and having studied under the deadliest killers in the world since she was eight, Pyrre is about to embark upon her final trial. A trial in which success will mean elevation to the rank of priestess, while failure will mean death.

To pass the trial, Pyrre has fourteen days to kill seven individuals who fit the description in an ancient song, including the one she loves the most. One slight problem, however, is that Pyrre has never been in love… and time is running out. Returning to the city of her birth, Pyrre has fourteen days to complete her remaining killings, fall in love and then murder her beloved. Trailed by her two trial witnesses who will watch her every move and know when they've been cheated, Pyrre does the only thing she can to fall in love and put plans in motion to start a revolution.

Skullsworn is a great read. The mythology and exploration of faith in the Skullsworn world were different and intriguing to read, with pieces of ancient history revealed as the story progressed. It was complex but highly engrossing with vivid descriptions of the cruel and dirty city of Pyrre's birth. Skullsworn is very well written with the story flowing easily, while the pacing of events is impressive and just right. One of the main selling points, however, is Pyrre's smart and calculating narration and the great structuring of the novel with flashbacks providing insight into Pyrre's character. This exploration of Pyrre's past and her confessions about it throughout the story really developed her character and made her more likeable, as well as adding depth to the story.

The second selling point of Staveley's novel is the characters and the fantastic dialogue between them, especially the two witnesses, who are already a priest and priestess of the God of Death and are exceptionally different. Their contrasting attitudes and quick remarks made the story really funny at times, and so much more interesting as a result. And their fight scenes were irresistible, in fact, all the fight scenes in the book were lethal, quick and very enjoyable.

Skullsworn is a prequel to Staveley's trilogy The Chronicles of Unhewn Throne. But don't worry if you haven't read the original trilogy, I hadn't and it didn't affect my understanding of the world in which the novel was set one bit. After enjoying Skullsworn so much, I'm definitely going to read the trilogy soon!

Skullsworn is a fantastic standalone book with a very satisfying conclusion – well thought out and written incredibly well. Many thanks to the author and publisher for providing an advanced copy of Skullsworn to review!

In terms of further reading, The Way Of Shadows (Night Angel Trilogy) by Brent Weeks is a great start to a trilogy revolving around assassins, politics and magic. Well worth reading after enjoying Skullsworn!

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Buy Skullsworn by Brian Staveley at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Skullsworn by Brian Staveley at


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