I just added The Briar King to my list of recommended or reviewed books on the right hand side of the blog. I've been meaning to do this for some time but never got around to it. Since I just bought The Charnel Prince, book two of the series, I thought I should finally officially post a review.
The Briar King is just all around excellent. It has all the heroes and villains and strange magics you need in epic fantasy. The royal family is beset by intrigue and treachery. A young noble knight must protect the realm. A ranger in the King's forest must unravel the secret of the awakening legendary Briar King and his unnatural herald. A headstrong princess escapes would be assassins and finds an unlikely protector and ally. Good stuff. The writing is crisp and moves along, the characterization is realistic and the dialogue just corny enough to be epic without being cheesy. Another good thing that the book's plot has going for it is that everyone has their own part in the tale, with their own bad guy to deal with. The different stories are loosely intertwined and do come together near the end before running off on their own again. I can't speak highly enough about Keyes and his ability to tell a great story.
Get it and read it.