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Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Greg Keyes: The Charnel Prince

This book is the second in a planned series of four books, in the sword and sorcery fantasy genre. I posted on the first one here. As I mentioned in that post, I got the second book from the library so I could find out what happened to the characters. When I did, I checked the author's web page, and discovered that there are two more books to be published, so it will be a while before I find out what happens in the end.

All of the characters I mentioned in the previous post are around at the end of the second book, although the empress, Muriele, has been arrested by her late husband's brother, Robert, and all of them have gone through considerable difficulties. I should have included Princess Anne's best friend and servant, Austra, in this list of characters who have something admirable about them. She was an important character in both books. Another character I didn't like much, Cazio, the swordsman, shows considerable bravery, loyalty, and determination in the second book. In the first, he seemed mostly a braggart.

A new character, the composer, Leovigild Ackenzal, appears in this book. He is a good man, in many ways. The empress commissions him to write a piece of music to give all of the people, whatever station they have, some hope, as terrible things are happening. He does so. There is a fair amount of conversation on the role of music in people's lives in the book.

The Charnel Prince is Robert, who murdered his brother, the emperor, in the first book. The emperor killed him as his final act. However, Robert is brought back to life, inadvertently, by sorcery. This relates to one of the themes of both books, namely the law of death: Dead things should stay dead.

The church of this subcreated world is presented as evil indeed. The central rite of the religion, as perverted by the current church hierarchy, involves human sacrifice, and invocation of evil spirits.

I'd like to know what happens next. Perhaps I will read the next book (not published yet) and find out.

Bibliographic information: Greg Keyes, The Charnel Prince. New York: Random House, 2004.

(Normally, I post a Sunspots on Wednesday, mentioning the week's Christian Carnival. It's time for me to go to bed, and no Christian Carnival yet, so I'm posting this instead.)

Thanks for reading.

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