The Skull Throne by Peter V. Brett

The Skull Throne (Demon Cycle, #4)Disclaimer: Did not read first 2 books of this series.
Note: You can read this book without reading the earlier books in the series. People argue about “remember when you did this atrocity” and “my reasonable action was in revenge for when you did that atrocity” and “but my atrocity was totally justified” and “you left me no choice”. The back-story does not feel like info dumping but rather like people holding grudges, fueling the story.

Demons are invading the world. Only the Deliverer can save humanity! But which Deliverer?

The 4th book in the series picks up where the 3rd left off: 2 Deliverers fight, only one can return… but our heroes in single combat just fell over the cliff. Are they dead? Probably not. Are they coming back any time soon? Definitely not – so the two armies go home to do some intensive politicking over who is the new boss. The whole book is people scrambling for power or defending against war as politics – non stop action.

Political scenes can be boring, but Brett keeps them intense. With the desert tribes, totally not Muslims, political power is directly tied to “dead man’s shoes”, or a man’s (or a woman’s) ability to physically defend against an opponent rising through the ranks by killing them. Men’s political death-fights are public, in front of the gathered warriors and ‘dama’ or religious clerics. Women’s death-fights are very private, just like the rest of women’s politics.

In the green lands, totally not Midwest America, politics are less byzantine and more blunt. Still, there’s the question of who is carrying whose baby left over from last book, which comes to a head here. The desert tribes have invaded the green lands, the green lands are getting ready to fight back. There are many villages and three major cities, so who will be in charge? One of the hamlets has grown to nearly a city, maybe they should be in charge. And what about the green land fiddler who can sing the demons away, and his two sand tribe wives? Is he a power to be reckoned with, or someone to be swatted?

The epic series has many, many characters to keep track of. The book has many different view point characters, though no first-person-point-of-view. Each chapter starts with a symbol (or two or three) to let the reader know who will be the focus of the chapter.

End note: there are several key characters who OF COURSE will live through the end of the series. But not as many as I thought. Aw, I liked those guys!

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