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    Review of THE CHARNEL PRINCE by Greg Keyes

    Del Rey, August 2004

    The law of death has been overcome and magical creatures--creatures not seen for hundreds of years--begin to appear again. In the forest, people go savage and attack the priests and warriors who come to save them. In the Empire, the king has been murdered and his wife struggles to hold onto power. Evil priests attempt to create a new saint's walk--one that owes more to demons and evil than to anything good. The hope of the world lies with a teenage princess--who is being sought and betrayed by her father's killers. Meanwhile, a musician searches for the missing ending to a magical song he heard the day after the night of the purple moon.

    Author Greg Keyes (see more reviews of novels by Keyes) weaves together the various strands of the story--Anne the princess along with her companions, Neil the knight sent to aid her, Leoff the composer, Muriele the Queen mother. Separated by hundreds of miles, each struggles to learn the horrible secret, the deadly magic that has overcome the fundamental law of the world--the dead stay dead. Without that law, evil magic knows no bounds.

    THE CHARNEL PRINCE is a big fantasy, and Keyes does a fine job humanizing it while sustaining its size. I especially liked Leoff--and his attempts to create music in a world where destruction seems the more likely creation. I would have liked to see a bit more growth in Anne--who was a bit too whiney for my tastes, and I found Neil too one-dimensional. Still, Keyes is a powerful author. His world-building is fascinating, the battle of the morally ambiguous against evil more compelling than standard good/evil stuff, and the action frequent.

    Three Stars

    Reviewed 12/10/04

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