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The Briar King (Kingdoms of Thorn and Bone #1)

3.71 of 5 stars 3.71  ·  rating details  ·  8,091 ratings  ·  306 reviews
In the kingdom of Crotheny, two young girls are playing in the tangled gardens of the sacred city of the dead when they stumble upon the unknown crypt of a legendary ancestral queen.
Paperback, 553 pages
Published July 2004 by Tor / Pan Macmillan UK (first published November 1st 2002)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Greg Keyes needed to torch his thesaurus, and who ever told him such a thing existed needs to be drug out into the street and shot.

“But oh ye blogger, why would thou, an English major, deny the beauty that synonyms dost bestow upon the worn, weary, and drear language?”

Because, ye ingrates– synonyms are only replacements. They don’t make worn, wear, drear language any better. They just make it ridiculous. Like putting Alexander McQueen or Prada on a scarecrow. Or a cow. And I mean a literal cow,
Understand that this author is new to fantasy and this is his first stab at writing in such a genre. So, while this was compared to George R.R. Martin's SONG OF ICE AND FIRE series, understand it doesn't come close.

That said, this is an honest start with solid promise in the future.


(1) Lots of time spent on a believable History;
(2) good cast of character;
(3) it moves;
(4) author is good at creating emotional affects; especially fear and curiosity


(1) dialogue needs work.
I am giving this 4,5 stars. This is the first book of a interesting series.

At the beginning, it takes us way back in the time when mankind were slaves to a race of powerful magic users. We get to see how we fought against them and earned our freedom, lead by a powerful witch queen. But in doing so, we did something that has a potential to come back and haunt us.

Times change, mankind moves on and forgets. Kingdoms are formed, they are fought for, grow strong, then stagnate, become too compliant
Mike (the Paladin)
Not a bad caught up right away, but it slowed down some. :

Update (originally reviewed 2009): I never followed it up, much. I started the second book and laid it aside.
The one where people are about to pay the price for some sort of unclean power used by their ancestors, as the Briar King, a figure out of myth, rises to destroy the world.

Or, in other words, six hundred pages of prologue. By the time we're done, we have the enemy (dimly known and poorly understood through mythology) and the cast of characters: a gruff woodsman and his plucky girlfriend, a monk who's the classic scholar-turned-fighter in the Blair Sandburg mode, a swordsman who's so very Italian
What is often cited as a weakness for this book is the standard, cookie-cutter characters that inhabit the story. And while I admit this is very true, I believe that Keyes pulls it off nicely. He takes those typical tropes and works them through an original and intriguing story. His dialogue and plot are great, and his world building is fantastic. The characters themselves are solid in their representation, and I hope that in further volumes of this series, they are fleshed out and given a uniqu ...more
I was very quickly carried away by the characters and the race-to-the-finish plotlies. Some developments I was able to predict, some not, but overall I bought in.

I like that one of the main character is more if an aging hero - his insights add a great deal to the storyline. I also appreciate the younger brash and somewhat naive characters who are a counterbalance to his worliness. I like that some of the good characters can be petty and vindictive, and that some of the questionable ones are mot
Shari  Mulluane
The Briar King is one of those delightful books that slowly grows on you. It starts off a bit slow, gaining in momentum, until you look up and it is 3am, and you kick yourself for all those "just one more chapter..." moments.

Not only does the story grow on you, but most of the characters do too. Notice I said most. There were a few characters that I never got in touch with, but overall I was happy with the characterization. Actually, I feel that way about the entire book. The story was great, th
Ben Babcock
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
I feel like an evil person giving this book one star, especially when everyone else seems to love it. If you are reading this review you should note that I didn't finish this book. I read about 250 pages, got bored and angry, guessed at the ending, checked to see if I was right (I was), and put it down.

Why didn't I like the book? I'm the eldest child in my family. I am very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, ve
Robin Wiley
Greg Keyes is one of my all time favorite authors. That man can create a world with physical laws, and religions, and creatures - all different from the usual goblin and elf fare. Then he does is again. Of everything he's written, this is the best series. So it's probably better to save it for last. Go read the Waterborn duo, then his Age of Unreason series (a quad), then come back and do this one - called Thorn and Bone. Keyes writes with a driving force. Each chapter is devoted to a character, ...more
This was the best first installment of an epic fantasy series I've come across since I first picked up A Game of Thrones. It is similarly presented as an ensemble story, with multiple characters alternately sharing the spotlight. Keyes has crafted an old world, filled with forgotten legends and creatures, obscure prophecies, conspiracies, courtly intrigues, and even some occasional wry humor. The story thus far is shaping up to be a masterpiece fully deserving the adjective "epic," and if the fu ...more
I liked this book but did not love it and probably will not continue the series. I must note that this is likely due to personal preference more than due to the quality of the novel. I prefer “lighter” Fantasy literature in the sense that I prefer less fighting, swordplay and graphic violence. I very much enjoy epic fantasy with extensive plot, setting and character development; I just prefer more PG rated battles. This book was by no means extreme, just not my cup of tea.

As for the book itself,
I don't know why but I went into this book expecting not to like it. I cannot figure out why. I don't remember anyone talking about this book to me but I'd been pushing it to the back of my challenge list with the other books I'm not looking forward to.

But once I started reading it I really enjoyed it. There was a lot of cliche, predictable in parts, but I enjoyed a lot as well. The not really discussed link to Roanoke. The faneways and the Briar King. Lots of things not quite explained but tha
Thanks to Amazon's Kindle Books, I downloaded this for free (on my iPhone, no KIndle here) and was rightfully rewarded for it!

I found this book to be rather enjoyable and engaging, with his fast-paced plot, endless cliff hangers and mysteries, this new world of mysterious powers, brave knights, spunky princesses and beautiful and wise queens. I loved the detailed action, and especially how the characters are so well developed, where even the third person narrative changes tone depending on which
I found it a struggle to finish this book. I both really enjoyed it and dispared in reading it. Characters were introduced, killed off, and resurected. I'm a main character kind of gal. Introduce whoever you want but I want to live in the main character's head. To read this book you have to live in at least five people's heads and some tertiary characters as well.

I think the story would have read better had we followed one character and not switched to a new character at the start of each new c
For the 1st hundred or so pages....
...the Prelude was quite interesting, but the rest was hard for me to get into. I was reading this in short spurts and it was hard for me to get into as it jumps around from character to character and sometimes I felt like I wasn't quite understanding what was written haha. It was 'okay.' I knew I would finish this book like I always do, but I don't think I will read the next book in this series.

BUT...THEN...somewhere it happened, and I felt like I was actually
Lasairfiona Smith
May 31, 2011 Lasairfiona Smith rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone that enjoys a good story
Re-reviewing based on most recent read (I reread this series every couple years).

This book is such a page turner! Keyes has written the chapters so that there is a climax at the end of nearly every chapter. The POV will then switch to another character (with another climax!) so there is always a reason to keep reading. They are also good stopping points if you really need to go to bed because you have been staying up too late to read the book. The overall flow of the book really gets you to keep
Absolutely loved this book. As if someone took all of my favourite authors: Tad Williams, Terry Brooks, & Patrick Rothfuss and mashed them together to create Greg Keyes's The Kingdom of Thorn and Bone. An epic fantasy tale with familiar character types: noble knight, young book-worm, the woodsman, the spoiled princess, the evil brother, etc. Despite all of this, you turn the pages because each character is written so fully and so well that you do not care that these are familiar places and p ...more
Sep 10, 2008 Valerie rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Valerie by: free
Shelves: fantasy-sf
I first read Keyes when someone gave me Waterborn, and I loved his use of mythology in his storytelling. When a free copy of this one came my way, I devoured it. Excellent.
I'm midway through the third book in this series and I have to say, I really like it. For YEARS I have been waiting for the next book in George RR Martin's "Song of Ice and Fire" series and until it comes out, this series is really filling the void in a very satisfying way.

It has similar elements - magical pseudo-medieval geo-political crisis, a strong royal mother, an incestuous twin, a young princess just discovering her powers and her destined place in the world, mystical monsters terrorizing
Ryan Mishap
Epic adult fantasy that does the good work of establishing a complete world with a history: humans were slaves of the Skalosi, demons of great power. The slaves rebelled, led by Virginya Dare who tapped into the demon's power and used it to defeat them. Fast forward hundreds of years and the kingdom she established is under threat from religious fanatics, an evil brother to the king, poisonous creatures haunting the forest, and the spirit of the wilderness, The Briar King.
The viewpoint shifts
I will state right off the bat that this review is only for the first half of the book. The second half might get better, but I seriously doubt it and have no intention of slogging through to the bitter end to find out. Every character introduced so far is a cliche and most of them are unlikeable. The writing itself is clumsy, with large jumps in time and action within the scenes- I'm not referring to the way Keys switches character POV every chapter. I'm referring to the way one paragraph will ...more
An epic -- set in medieval times (when else) about a kingdom that is degenerating into chaos, at which time the Briar King will arise. It's told from the points of view of several main characters. Events unfold gradually. The scene switches back and forth between characters, each one ending in suspense, which drives me a little crazy, but keeps me reading if only to find out what happens when next we come upon whoever was left hanging.

The ending is fairly unsatisfactory, as things have just begu
I enjoyed this book so much so that I've already finished the 2nd book in the series. I liked the character development and it has enough suspense that I don't know exactly what is around the corner. There are still some mysteries that I can see aren't as black and white as they may seem.
After finishing this book, I'm not quite sure how I feel about it, but I think that I enjoyed it more often than not, and I'm considering continuing to the second book to see how that goes.

This is a pretty typical fantasy novel, and it incorporates most of the traditional elements, though with a few differences at times. Things like slogging through a world that in its far away history was enslaved and chaotic (and that may be returning), political maneuvering, a legendary evil awakening, that k
Jessie Koenigsberg
Although I enjoyed The Briar King, I found the characters to be somewhat stereotypical and the plot to be unoriginal. The story was the basic journey story--the characters have to go on a "quest" to find both themselves and a source of evil that is bent on destruction. The characters then have to find a way to defeat the evil, in this case, The Briar King and those who serve him.

I found the character of Anne to be very similar to the heroines of romance novels--head-strong, stubborn, wanting her
The Briar King is the first installment within Greg Keyes series 'The kingdoms of thorn & bone' and is a truely majestic tale to get lost in, with much suspense and excitement throughout. For those readers who love Terry Goodkind, Robin Hobb and JRR Tolkien and enjoy a book that is wordy and reflects that old-style, then this is a fantastic example of literature and writing at its very best. It contains thrilling action and drama with a lot of passion, within the telling of an epic fantasy a ...more
Mar 13, 2008 Tracy rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: teen and adult fantasy readers
Recommended to Tracy by: no one
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
K. Axel
Jun 27, 2010 K. Axel rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans of George R R Martin
The Story...
People are fighting to survive in a world of war. A holter tries to make sense of the world and struggles with his love of two women. A young priest has come to learn and perhaps walk the Faneway. The empire of Crotheny is about to change and with it, the imperial family. Who will survive the war and who will fall?

This is a classic story, a story that we have read a hundred times before. But that is alright, because it works. The Briar King is very well-written and offers a lot of gr
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Gregory Keyes is a writer of science fiction and fantasy who has written both original and media-related novels under both the names J. Gregory Keyes and "Greg Keyes".

Greg Keyes was born in to a large, diverse, storytelling family. He received degrees in anthropology from Mississippi State and the University of George before becoming a fulltime writer.
He lives in Savannah, Georgia.
More about Greg Keyes...

Other Books in the Series

Kingdoms of Thorn and Bone (4 books)
  • The Charnel Prince (Kingdoms of Thorn and Bone, #2)
  • The Blood Knight (Kingdoms of Thorn and Bone, #3)
  • The Born Queen (Kingdoms of Thorn and Bone, #4)
Conquest (Edge of Victory, #1) (Star Wars: The New Jedi Order, #7) Rebirth (Edge of Victory, #2) (Star Wars: The New Jedi Order, #8) The Charnel Prince (Kingdoms of Thorn and Bone, #2) The Final Prophecy (Star Wars: New Jedi Order, #18) The Blood Knight (Kingdoms of Thorn and Bone, #3)

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