This book was just like the others in Peter V. Brett’s Demon Cycle, but it was also completely different. It was the same because it had excellent writing, great characters, and a lot of solid action. It was different because, for the first time, it felt like it was moving directly towards a conclusion. I also want to mention that I listened to the audiobook, and the reader, Pete Bradbury, was as excellent in this book as he was in the others.
The first book of the series was great at establishing the world and characters. The second book expanded on that, widening the world and giving the background and motivations of other cultures. The third book continued the world building, and started bringing the Corelings themselves into focus. In The Skull Throne, Brett seems to move world building to the background. This time around he starts moving the different pieces of the story into position for the final conflict.
I don’t want to give any spoilers, but another interesting thing in the book is that several of the primary characters from the first three books are almost non-existent here. They have their moments, and help progress the larger plot, but their lack of participation in the rest of the story is very noticeable. Another big change is that this is the first book where significant characters die. Like I mentioned above, I get the sense that this is done with a specific purpose and will spark some important decisions in the concluding book.
I was a little disappointed in the ending. Not the actual story or anything, just the fact that the last chapter felt more like it should have been an epilogue rather than part of the main book. It’s pretty disconnected from the rest of the events of the last few chapters, so the shift from that storyline was a bit jarring.
Overall, I don’t think I enjoyed it quite as much as the others as a standalone book, but I do think that it’s been the most important book in the series.