The Skull Throne by Peter V. Brett

The Skull Throne is the 4th book in the Demon Cycle series.
The review below contains no spoilers for this book and only very slight ones for the series.

The Skull Throne of Krasia stands empty. Built from the skulls of fallen generals and demon princes, it is a seat of honour and ancient, powerful magic, keeping the demon corelings at bay. From atop the throne, Ahmann Jardir was meant to conquer the known world, forging its isolated peoples into a unified army to rise up and end the demon war once and for all.
But Arlen Bales, the Painted Man, stood against this course, challenging Jardir to a duel he could not in honour refuse. Rather than risk defeat, Arlen cast them both from a precipice, leaving the world without a saviour, and opening a struggle for succession that threatens to tear the Free Cities of Thesa apart.
In the south, Inevera, Jardir's first wife, must find a way to keep their sons from killing one another and plunging their people into civil war as they strive for enough glory to make a claim on the throne. In the north, Leesha Paper and Rojer Inn struggle to forge an alliance between the duchies of Angiers and Miln against the Krasians before it is too late. Caught in the crossfire is the duchy of Lakton – rich and unprotected, ripe for conquest.
All the while, the corelings have been growing stronger, and without Arlen and Jardir there may be none strong enough to stop them. Only Renna Bales may know more about the fate of the missing men, but she, too, has disappeared…

I struggled a bit getting back into the story with this book. Unlike previous times I didn't reread the entire series just before starting on this one, so my memory was a bit foggy, particularly on all the many Krasian names and relations.

It's a book that's very much about power. Both political and brute force. It's also a book which doesn't focus much on what I'd otherwise perceive as the main character. This book is not really about Arlen Bales (nor his wife nor Jardir). This book is about what goes on with Leesha and Rojer, Inevra and Abban while the others are away.

Once I got back into it and defeated the nearly month-long reading-block (akin to writer's block) I couldn't stop reading. And at the same time I was terrified to read on. While these books have never been a picnic in the sun, this time it's a much much darker tale - and people get hurt. VIP people. The people you thought were surely safe. While I'm totally cool with an author doing whatever he does, certain passages did cause me to hyperventilate or in fact had me shouting at the book and the cursed heavy pages, spluttering with fury, with rage, with tears in my eyes, with eternal loss. Just writing this, recalling how it felt, made me cry. This book hits hard.

I present to you no spoilers, but a book that's every bit as worthy as it's predecessors (and almost twice as long). You might not like what happens, you might not agree with it, I certainly didn't, but I can't wait for the 5th book to come into my possession. This remains the best damn fantasy series I've ever read and I need more.

This is no fluffy story, make no mistake. We're venturing into the night and with men being men they are stupid enough to fight each other rather than just the demons that lurk in the dark.

Curse them all.

Darkness will rise
As heroes fall

Demon Cycle #4
by Peter V Brett
ISBN13: 9780007425686
768 pages / Published on March 31st 2015

Review by Iben Jakobsen, BoB, 2015


  1. I've had this series on my list since "The Painted Man" came out, and it's only because I prefer to wait until a whole series is completed, that I haven't started this yet. But it's been so hard every time a new book has come out and I've read all the wonderful reviews... You just made it even worse ;)
    I might have to start it soon after all...

    1. These books are well worth being reread over and over again, they are so excellently written! I hope you enjoy them as much as I do once you do get started on them :)


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