The Kingdoms of Thorn and Bone

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The Kingdoms of Thorn and Bone
The Briar King, The Charnel Prince, The Blood Knight and The Born Queen

The Briar King
The Charnel Prince
The Blood Knight
The Born Queen
Author Greg Keyes
Country United States
Language English
Genre Fantasy, thriller.
Publisher Del Rey Books
Published January 2003-April 2008
Media type Print (hardcover and paperback)

The Kingdoms of Thorn and Bone is the name of a fantasy novel series by Gregory Keyes, written between 2003 and 2008.[1] They follow the story of Anne Dare, descendant of Virgenya Dare, a famed ruler who used her magic to aid the kingdom of Crotheny.[2] Her descendants rule the kingdom until a traitorous plot to overthrow them leads to tragedy.

The books generally follow the overall fate of its several protagonists and the lands from which they hail. The events recounted deal mainly with the destiny of the kingdom of Crotheny. However, several strands of plotlines sometimes lead to one another while also expanding the history, characters and events of the series. The series leans more on its character development to develop the plot from several different perspectives, but is also peppered with legends, myths, detailed world backstory, kingdoms, wars and monsters that characterize the genre.


  • Anne Dare is the youngest princess of the house of Dare, destined to become The Born Queen and follow the path left by Virginia. The princess grows from a willful child to a strong Queen with sedoi power who wishes to choose her own path. The entire series evolves around her decisions and her battle as she is encouraged and paced to claim the sedos throne.
  • Stephen Darige begins as a boy in trouble, becoming a scholar and monk of D'ef. He is the direct source of information through the series and he becomes involved with Fend, the church, Kauron and the demon Velvy when walking the sedos that changes him to Black Jester. This double character plays a part in the very final battle and though his loyalty does not change his dual nature makes it difficult to place him under "good" or "bad" and his true intentions if ending as winner are never fully disclosed.
  • Aspar White begins as the King's holter but ends up in the final battle for the thrones, though not the sedoi. Aspar changes first his own state from only caring about himself and the forest to expanding his world with Winna, the country and the entire world. His life story and destiny are disclosed to the reader as he gives up his human form and becomes the new briar king, going to the last battle as a holder of one of the three thrones, the Vhen throne.
  • Praifec Marché Hespero is a leader of the church with great ambition and a cold heart. He is part of the run for the sedoi power to keep this within the church and has more knowledge than he displays. How much he knew and planned from the beginning is not totally clear to the reader, but as he gains more power and rises in the church he becomes an enemy to all trying for the throne, Anne in particular, but also he is longing for power and hold of the world which indicates that if he wins the power the world will lose.
  • Fend is Aspar's great foe and initially the leader of the terrible offerings at the black sedoi. He and Aspar's story is slowly disclosed but Fend's character is devious and he himself wishes to become the Blood Knight which changes his status as he succeed. He is plotting with the church (Hespero) and the group around Kauron/Black Jester but most disclosing is his connecting with the Sarnwood Witch giving his war with Aspar/Briar King a new dimension in time and importance to the entire world.
  • Austra, in the beginning she is simply Anne's maid and friend but undergoes the sedoi test and has part in Anne's development and her part in the final play is important. Her loyalty is always clear and so she is one of the characters the reader trusts and they are few.
  • Sir Robert Dare, brother of the king and a cold hearted traitor to the Dare family. When he dies and still walks the land his scheming plans and his lust for devious deeds grows and strips him of his last humanity. He is behind the initial plan to murder the Dare family and also he is allied with both Hansa and the church but not all of his actions are clear, partly because of his chaotic and probably insane nature, partly because not all details are told to the reader.
  • Neil MeqVren is a fatherless fighter from the small island of Skern, but during the story he gains status of knight and is a genuine hero in the series. Ultimately he plays a key role with his pure heart and honor to change the actions of other key characters. When he meets Brinna more double characters are reviewed to the reader and another layer of truth and knowledge wrapped around the story.
  • Erren is the maid for the Queen but also an assassin trained in a coven. When she dies she becomes an informant to the Queen and thus to the reader, though communication with the dead is difficult giving also this information the uncertainty that defines most communication in this series.
  • Alis Berrye is originally the lovely and gullible mistress to the king but exposes herself as coven trained, though another coven than Erren. She is true in her loyalty to the Dares though she is also a part of a cult expelled from the old church. She and her sisters want a Dare queen to seize the throne when it emerges and so her loyalty is not to the people but to the cause.
  • z'Acatto is from the south and co-rescuer of Anne and Austria as their hardship begins. This is really not his name, and he is one of the characters whose story is told while he changes his view of the world. He is not just an old drunk but really a hero from a war and a great man who has ruled a league of men. When Cazio decides to act z'Acatto follows him and thus becomes more and more evolved in the girls part of the story.
  • The Briar King is first a scary being from a world beyond breaking through to the world and when he comes he brings terrors. But he is also the holder of the Vhen throne, created to be such to keep the balance and so he is a manifestation of a power but not actually a being. The uncertainty of his effect on the world plays a part in the characters decision making and when he dies it is a loss to the reader as well. But it is still a possibility that he was actually mad as stated by Fend and the witch, indicated by his lack of compassion for life. On the other hand he is the manifestation of life and death, the upholder of the life cycle that is the main law in his forest and in the end the Briar King saves the world.
  • The Kept is the last of the Skasloi lords kept under the castle of Eslen. When Virgenia reaches him in the beginning of the series, she condemns him to a very slow death, a slow death indeed. He has a strong presence of mind and taps on one of the thrones, not the sedoi but the Xhes, the power of warlocks. He plots to escape and has strings to the sefry around mother Um, the usurper Robert Dare and he manipulates whoever he can, The Queen Mother, Anne herself and maybe even the old Witch. From the time of Black Jester he is known as the demon Velny and so he might also have connections to the Kauron group. Many of the actions from the other characters can eventually be traced back to him and his desire to die and take the world with him.
  • The Lady of Shadows is at first a demon and an old power from the other world. She is also a guide for Anne to help her get the sedos throne and fight of enemies on the way. When Anne reaches her final power she assimilates the Lady into herself and the story indicates that this is not and never was a demon but simply a being of great power. Probably, she represents Anne herself after seizing the power and this is why she is so scary and foreign. Anne and the Lady together has power to change the world, freedom to choose the path for themselves and drive to fight for their goals slaying to reach them.
  • The Faiths are beings in the other world, with power to see needs and guide people with the ability to go to them. At first they seems scary and firm but as Anne discovers they can be flimsy and not honest. There are four of these beings known as the faiths but they are not what they seem. Really they are seers, Hellrunes, from the ordinary world sworn to a sacred duty, apparently they are born with their power which must originate from Xhes. When one of the sisters die, someone else will take her place keeping the Faiths throughout time. The fourth one, the black, is the Hansa princess Brinna and the only one to survive since the Lady of Shadows slays the other three.

The Kingdoms of Thorn and Bone is a series of four novels written by Gregory Keyes:

  • The Briar King (2003), ISBN 1-4050-3351-7
  • The Charnel Prince (2004), ISBN 0-345-44067-6
  • The Blood Knight (2006), ISBN 1-4050-3355-X
  • The Born Queen (2008), ISBN 978-0-345-44069-3