The Liar’s Key is the second book in The Red Queen’s War trilogy by Mark Lawrence.
Jalan, Snorri and his cousin Tuttugu have done the impossible. They survived the harrowing experience of the Black Fort, and found Loki’s key. The one key that can open anything. Snorri is determined to open the door of death and find his murdered family, Jalan just wants to go home and be a prince again. But other forces have turned their eyes upon them, eager for the key, and they care nothing for the wants of a spoiled prince and a broken Viking.
The frustrating part about reading everything from Jalan’s point of view is that every single time you think he’s learned something – loyalty, compassion, anything really – his thoughts immediately smashes the illusions. You keep on reading, and keep on hoping that he’s going to change his ways, only to be disappointed again and again. So when it seems he does do something out of love, you latch on to that. “See,” you tell yourself. “He can be a good man.” He can be, but he rarely is. He still acts a lot like a child, and when one of the main characters in the book, Hennan, actually is a child and acts more mature than he does, that’s very jarring. But you can’t help but root for Jalan, and hope that he will find himself on the right path, and stick to it.
Tuttugu and Snorri are the last surviving members of their clan, and while I can understand their need to find the door of death (mostly Snorri’s need though, Tuttugu is just along for the ride because he’s loyal), it’s hard to not feel like it’s a bad idea. If one of the scariest adversaries you’ve had is called the Dead King, maybe not open the door of death? There’s been dead people following you, harassing you, trying to murder you and you want to open a door and possibly let in more of them. On the one hand I get it: Snorri lost everything, and everyone he loved except for Tuttugu. He’s a broken man. But I couldn’t help but wish for him to forgo his quest. Settle down as foster parent to Hennan, who also lost his family.
Hennan’s a sweetheart, and I love how nondescript he was when he first arrived on the page. I had no idea he would feature so heavily in this book, but I’m glad he did. Kara is…well, I don’t know quite what she is yet. She entered their lives during a time they needed her, though not really of her own volition, and she helped them a lot. She cares about them, and Hennan. But she’s also not who she says she is, and I wonder if we’ll ever truly know where her allegiances lie and what her plans are. I’m just going to assume she’s interested in the greater good for now.