I got to be one of the lucky ones to get an ARC for The Skull Throne, thus shortening my wait to continue the saga (if only by a few weeks).
I haven't reviewed the previous Demon Cycle books. In (not so) short... if you haven't read them, stop reading this, get in the car, drive to your local bookstore, purchase all the books (heck, get two copies and give one set to your friend who also (for some bizarre reason) hasn't read them yet), and get reading. Now. Right now.
|FYI: In the US, The Painted Man = The Warded Man|
Growing up I happened to have quite the collection of Smurfs (as any child of the 80's should be able to confess to). I just loved the Smurfs and the world they inhabited. Gargamel and his insidious plans to capture the little blue guys, Smurfberries, Azrael (all bad guys need some comic relief), the clever naming scheme (good thing mom knew Brainy would be so smart). I had the toys, watched the cartoons, bought the clay kits to make your own Smurfs (though those were never the same as the store-bought ones). I was a Smurfs fan. It was all just Smurfin' Smurftastic.
The cartoon brought a lot of life to how I would play with my ever-growing collection of Smurfs. You see, there was the over-arching plot from the TV show of Gargamel and whatever nefarious deeds he deemed necessary to capture and use the magical miniatures. I would carry that ploy into my playtime, but that was just never enough for me. So, what did I do? Well, there had to be some additional turmoil in Smurf Village as Brainy looked to remove Papa Smurf from his seat of power. There was backstabbing as the Smurfs vied for the attention of Smurfette or over control of the Smurfberry hoard. Fights and turf wars broke out. Smurfs died (I was a weird kid). But to me, having that extra story, that additional background and motivation for each of the Smurfs served to enhance the overall story of whatever Gargamel was doomed to fail at on the next week's episode.
The Skull Throne amps up the political intrigue and espionage, deep-dives into character development, and demonstrates that the decisions one makes can have lasting repercussions.
Pete takes Smurf Village, turns the mushroom kingdom on its head, dissects it, removes its organs, moves the bits around into new, bizarre formations, and puts it back together in a way that will make the end product something to behold. Book five can't come soon enough.
I give it... the goblin ball.