Review: The Liar’s Key

Posted: March 18, 2016 by in Books We Love (5/5 single_star) Meta: Mark Lawrence, Fantasy

It always feels good writing a review for a Mark Lawrence novel. He is a terrific writer who is constantly improving his craft. THE LIAR’S KEY (Amazon) is no exception. It’s Lawrence’s longest novel, but it is easily his best yet.

THE LIAR’S KEY takes place shortly after PRINCE OF FOOLS (EBR Review), with Jalan Kendeth and Snorri ver Snagason in possession of Loki’s Key. This key can unlock any door, according to myth. But for Snorri, he is set on opening the door to death to find and rescue his dead family. Meanwhile Jalan is… busy being Jalan.

Jalan Kendeth. Prince. Playboy. Berserker. Coward. Seeing all these defining aspects of his character was a complete joy. I still can’t help but compare Jalan to the Jorg from the Broken Empire Trilogy. The contrast couldn’t be stronger, and it makes the Red Queen’s War Trilogy, in my opinion, so much the richer.THE LIAR’S KEY really highlights Lawrence’s increased ability to write differing emotions. Where before, Lawrence wrote some of the best Dark Fantasy/Grimdark in the market, he now has a much deeper mastery of the full spectrum of emotions. THE LIAR’S KEY has so many of those really dark moments we love and expect from Lawrence, but it also has so many hysterical points too. This contrast makes the funny parts funnier, and the dark parts way more tragic.

When you add to these contrasting elements the overarching trope of the Great Epic Fantasy Quest, the resulting mix could easily have turned into mud. Instead, THE LIAR’S KEY is the richest of Lawrence’s fantastic novels. I felt like I was actually learning about the world in this novel, and that not all of it is a radioactive wasteland. The chunks of the novel showing the politics and trade, I found, were absolutely fascinating.

But at the end of the day, I always come back to character. Jalan is Jalan. Snorri is Snorri. While some pieces of them change, others stay the same. The steadfastness with which Lawrence stays true to his characters–even up to the final scene of the novel–is what impressed me the most. Never once did I feel the characters behaved out of character, even when it would have made the characters get out of a mess far easier.

Much as I loved The Broken Empire, THE LIAR'S KEY is far superior to any of those novels, both technically and in pure enjoyment. One of my favorite of 2015

I couldn’t be happier with this book. So many fantasy novels these days are a chore to get through. Even though this is Lawrence’s longest novel, the pacing made it a shockingly fast novel to read, and an absolute joy. I simply have nothing bad to say about this book.

As much as I loved The Broken Empire, THE LIAR’S KEY is far superior to any of those novels, both technically and in pure enjoyment. Easily one of my favorite books from 2015. I can’t wait for THE WHEEL OF OSHEIM (Amazon).

You need to be reading Mark Lawrence.

  • Recommended Age: 17+
  • Language: Yup. On par with prior novels
  • Violence: Plenty
  • Sex: All sorts of talk and discussion. Some of the situations are hilarious.

Series links:
PRINCE OF FOOLS: Amazon – Red Queen’s War Book 1
THE WHEEL OF OSHEIM: Amazon – Red Queen’s War Book 3

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