Wow, but it’s been a long time since I offered my thoughts on a book here. Playing Age of Conan prompted my to drag out my Conan books for a re-read, and that didn’t seem worth covering. When I started to read Greg Keye’s The Born Queen I realized I’d sort of lost the thread of the series, so I went back and re-read The Blood Knight.
Anyway…so The Born Queen brings the Kingdoms of Thorn and Bone tetralogy to a satisfying conclusion, but it sometimes feels like a frantic trip. As the pacing of the book increases, chapters get shorter, rotating through the various characters one chapter at time. It feels like you’re riding a whirlwind at times. Granted Keyes has a lot of story to tell, and I suspect he had too much for this 4th book to contain, but not enough to warrant a 5th book. As I told Angela this morning (I was up reading long after she’d gone to sleep; a typical event with this series), “I’d love to read the director’s edition of the book.”
Bottom line though: this was a great series. If you enjoy big rambling epics like Martin’s Song of Ice & Fire, you’ll probably have fun here. It isn’t -quite- as meaty as Martin, but it comes close. Keyes is a fantastic world builder. As the series starts the world is pretty pseudo-medieval ‘normal’ but as things go awry it becomes a more and more fantastical environment, and it all makes sense within the rules that Keyes built the world around.
His character development isn’t quite as strong, though its still good. Some of the characters tend to be too “purely good” or “purely evil” and there were a couple of shifts towards the end that were hard to understand. Again, these are nits, and characters like the charismatic Cazio or taciturn old Aspar White will stick with you long after you close the book.
Approaching the end of a series this long is always a bit frightening. Will all this time reading turn out to have been wasted if the author can’t pull all the strings together? That’s not a problem here, and Keyes even goes against what is currently accepted as good form, and offers an epilogue to ease us gently out of his world. Much appreciated, that was.
A great series for fantasy fans.