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Skullsworn

Narrated by: Elizabeth Knowelden
Length: 15 hrs and 21 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (216 ratings)

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Summary

Brian Staveley's new standalone returns to the critically acclaimed Chronicle of the Unhewn Throne universe, following a priestess-assassin for the God of Death

From the award-winning epic fantasy world of The Emperor's Blades...

Pyrre Lakatur is not, to her mind, an assassin, not a murderer - she is a priestess. At least, she will be once she passes her final trial.

The problem isn't the killing. The problem, rather, is love. For to complete her trial, Pyrre has ten days to kill the seven people enumerated in an ancient song, including "the one who made your mind and body sing with love / who will not come again."

Pyrre isn't sure she's ever been in love. And if she fails to find someone who can draw such passion from her, or fails to kill that someone, her order will give her to their god, the God of Death. Pyrre's not afraid to die, but she hates to fail, and so, as her trial is set to begin, she returns to the city of her birth in the hope of finding love... and ending it on the edge of her sword.

©2017 Brian Staveley (P)2017 Brilliance Publishing, Inc., all rights reserved.

Critic reviews

"Brilliant." (V. E. Schwab, New York Times bestselling author)

What members say

Average customer ratings

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Great spin off

Ok, so I’m finding this book hard to review... had it been a random story narrated by Elizabeth, I’d have probably given her 5 stars for her narration as she can’t be faulted and portrays Pyrre and the other characters really well; unfortunately Simon Vance has already created a persona for Pyrre in my mind and she differs a lot from Elizabeth’s portrayal... but don’t let that put you off, Elizabeth is brilliant!
Coming in straight after I finish the Unhewn trilogy I felt a little wanting in the single character front of Skullsworn and single path of the storyline which is the complete opposite of the Unhewn multiple stories and twists and turns.
All in all, a very good book which I’d most likely give 5 stars if it was a complete standalone story and Unhewn hadn’t raised my standards so high. Definitely worth a read!!

1 person found this helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Barely made it past chapter one

Perhaps it picks up later in the book but the beginning chapter and a half was so drawn out and dull and the characters to pretentious and annoying I couldn’t continue.
Coupled with that the narrator is horrible to listen to and I felt very badly cast in terms of the age of the character.

1 person found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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I wish this was not just a one off

I have read Brian's other books but this book grabbed me from beginning to end. The narrator is a ok so one of the best I have heard.

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Loved it .... listened to it twice!

Would you listen to Skullsworn again? Why?

Yes. Brians' writing it as good as it gets in the fantasy genre if you ask me. Yes it is dark, but grimly realistic and not for the faint hearted.

What was one of the most memorable moments of Skullsworn?

I loved the character Ella, a totally amoral character living just in the moment, but lighting up the page whenever she makes an appearance.

Which scene did you most enjoy?

The ending was utterly brilliant, and an ending fit for the characters.

Any additional comments?

Brian's understanding of religion and faith and all that it entails is cleverly interwoven into his writing, It makes you think, and question both the characters actions and perhaps what goes on in the real world too. Reading Brian's books is an education in itself, so prepare to have your thinking challenged.

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Dark

narrator was good, story was good but it's a bit too dark. what did I expect though about a book about death worshipers.

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Not quite Pyrre.

If you've read/listened to the first three then you've probably got a soft spot for Pyrre. That personality doesn't see the light in this story. It's a different character entirely, bland and tuneless. The performance and a couple of reveals pull it back.

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Wonderful Read

Absolutely wonderful read. Tremendous story telling and great imagination. Different characters stories, pulled together at the right time, and with ease. Definitely as good as the Emperors Blades.
Just loved it.
I know it's not as easy as all that Mr. Staveley but, more please.
as ever
Handsome Prince

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Great addition

This is a great addition to an already fantastic series. It is not a combination of the other books but it is well worth a read.

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    5 out of 5 stars

Excellent fantasy

I couldn't resist downloading another book set in this world, having devoured Brian Staveley's previous works back to back.

I was a little apprehensive by a change of narrator, but Elizabeth Knowelden does it justice, particularly given the protagonist this time is female. I would certainly listen to another audiobook narrated by her.

The story is superb. Probably more entertaining than the trilogy that precedes it, but the preceding trilogy is essential prior knowledge, otherwise so much of the story wouldn't make sense.

Five stars. I hope another stand alone novel swiftly follows this one.

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Not impressed

If I wanted Mills and Boon I would of bought Mills and Boon, this book made me feel like a gooseberry listening to a couple on a slow date hoping I can drink really really quickly so drunken oblivion takes me.

2 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • cj0679
  • 29-07-17

Couldn't finish it

It was an interesting book with some truly well written areas to it, but overall I found myself just didn't care enough to finish it. It was neither convincing that the protagonist would be so desperately searching to find love in order to sacrifice him to her god, nor was there anything that I was rooting for. The conclusion seemed inevitable and I found that I just didn't care enough about he journey getting there to be worth my time.

I listen to a lot of books and this may be the first time that I've chosen to stop listening to a story with only two hours left.


If you weren't able to finish the unhewn thrown series, defeat nicely don't tread this on.

12 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Ryan
  • 06-05-17

Another amazing story by Brian Staveley

I thoroughly enjoyed Mr. Staveley's first trilogy and this book provides solid proof that his works are only going to get better and better. If you read/listened to The Unhewn Throne Trilogy then you'll remember Pyrre Lakatur, the somewhat mysterious and very deadly priestess of the God of Death. This book delves into her background and gives more insight into what it means to be one of the Skullsworn. This is the first time I've listened to Elizabeth Knowelden's narration and I was very impressed with her as well. I don't give 5 stars often and usually never for all three categories but it's well deserved in this case.

9 people found this helpful

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  • Heatherfeather654
  • 10-09-19

profoundly dark but beautiful

This is one of the most dark but beautiful stories I've ever read. It's definitely worth a read if you're into darker fiction. This book is a poetic masterpiece.

2 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Anonymous User
  • 15-08-19

Fantastic story

Skullsworn was on my to read list from before it was released. Elizabeth Knowelden breathes fantastic, addictive, and beautiful life into one of my favorite characters in fiction. Brain Staveley is a master with words and has created a rich, intriguing, and vivid world you can’t help but fall for. Between this and the Chronicle of the Unhewn thrown, I have found one of my favorite fictional worlds that I will, without a doubt, return to many times before Ananshael unmakes me.

2 people found this helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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  • Brandon C.
  • 23-05-18

Read Something Else

This book is not at the same level as the others. I would skip it really wish it would have went somewhere due to the world the other books made.

4 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Kevin G. Summers
  • 05-06-17

Homerun

If you could sum up Skullsworn in three words, what would they be?

This book serves as a prequel of sorts to Staveley's Unhewn Throne trilogy. Story is crisp and enjoyable, and it provides some additional depth to this fantasy world. I wasn't particularly fond of this character in the original trilogy, but the additional character development in this book has massively elevated her in my view. Quite a good book, and it could stand alone if you haven't read the other books. But you should read those as well, because they're amazing.

4 people found this helpful

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  • shawacosta
  • 04-06-17

Wow. Just wow.

Great story told through a great narrator. Her voice is exactly what I pictured for her character. The author was able to keep me guessing what would happen next even though the epilogue. Great addition to the series.

4 people found this helpful

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  • O. F.
  • 18-07-19

A meandering verbosity

Excellent writing however the entire book was a boring philosophical treatise mixed with raw senseless violence. I much prefer Tad Williams or Brandon Sanderson.

1 person found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • oana
  • 07-01-19

a delight!

Brian Staveley is a gift! Loved The Unhewn Throne series! Skullsworn is not as complex, but it is a delight nonetheless

1 person found this helpful

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  • FantasySciFiAddict
  • 13-02-20

Beautiful and Mesmerizing

First and foremost, buy this freaking book. You already know Staveley is a fantastic writer if you read his Unhewn Trilogy (which, if you haven’t, do yourself a favor) and this novel is no different. Unlike myself, because I enjoy letting all of the words sink in through every pore, anyone can pick up Skullsworn, sink their teeth in, and finish with relative ease, as it is only about 300 pages. The writing is beautiful and mesmerizing, the world-building is vividly imagined and thoroughly detailed, and the characters will bring out personal cheers and exultations from the reader.

One who is right, and one who is wrong.
A singer snared in a web of song
Deliver them, deliver them
Into his million-fingered hands.
Deliver to him a dealer of death,
Severed from life, shorn of breath.
Deliver a mother, ripe with new life.
Find the kindness in the sharpest knife.
Deliver to him a giver of names;
There are no words in his domain.
When these are safe inside his hands,
One more remains,
One more remains
Give to the god the one who made your mind
And body sing with live
Who will not come again.

This is the test/trial for our strong, female protagonist, Pyrre. She is an acolyte to Ananshael, the God of Death, and to become a priestess, she has fourteen days to deliver these seven to her God. The killing comes easy, for the most part, as she has trained for this almost her entire life, but when love enters in, will she be able to pass the trial? Pyrre has never been in or known true love, at least that is what she thinks. If she can’t complete her trial and find what love truly means, she will have to offer herself to Ananshael. She must travel through croc-infested marshes, deal with the dangers hidden within, and come across peoples thought dead or myth to prove herself to her God.

“A grape tastes like a grape? Of course not. Until you bite the grape, it has no taste. It might as well be a stone plucked from the cold current of some river in autumn: a smooth, chill orb, reticent, flavorless. You could hold it trapped between your palate and tongue forever, only the faintest hint of juice at the tiny breach where it was plucked from the stem.
You are like that grape – plump with slick, rich sweetness, with wet purple life. The truth of life is the grape’s truth: only when jaws bite down, when the skin splits, when the sun-cold flesh explodes onto the tongue does it matter. Without the moment of its own destruction, the grape is just a smooth, colorful stone. Without the foreknowledge of the woman who holds it in her hand, her anticipation, before it even passes her lips, of the mangled skin and the sweet life draining over the tongue, the grape would hold no savor.”

Like I said before, the writing is beautiful and mesmerizing and that quote just did it for me.

Last thing, and this needs to be mentioned, Elizabeth Knowelden killed the narration. With some tough Simon Vance-filled shoes to fit into, she was flawless in bringing out the essence and passion of the story. Each character stood alone with their own voice, which is what you need to make an audiobook worth the time and money invested. Kudos to her and I hope that Skullsworn is her ticket to more gigs.