Dragons have returned to the Hundred Isles. But their return heralds only war and destruction. When a horde of dying slaves are discovered in the bowels of a ship, Shipwife Meas and the crew of the Tide Child find themselves drawn into a vicious plot that will leave them questioning their loyalties and fighting for their lives.
Author: R. J. Barker
Release Date: 24/11/2020
Series: Tide Child Trilogy #2
My Chosen Format: Kindle
My Rating of ‘Call of the Bone Ships’: 5 out of 5
I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Just a quick query to anyone who regularly reads Orbit books via Netgalley: Are they, hands down, the worst publisher for you as far as formatting goes on Netgalley? This was, at times, formatted like a novel (not particularly well-formatted, but an attempt was made) and at others it looked like someone had read a poetry book one time and thought ‘yea, I’ll have some of that’.
I’ll start my review by saying that this was, without a doubt, the best fantasy novel I have read this year. Barker looked back at the story from the first book and obviously thought ‘that was great, but I can break the laws of impossibility and write a sequel that will make the first one look bland in comparison.’ And a bloody good job he did of that.
In the first fifty percent I felt there was more action, more story, more fast-moving parts in the world surrounding the story, than I got in any other novel I’ve read this year. It had me excited for the second half of the book in ways I’m not normally excited about a book.
Barker’s strength in this world is the characters. He does a sublime job of writing characters that you can’t help but to love or hate and, if he fancies it, he’ll make second-guess yourself on occasion and love certain characters you never thought you could. If anyone who has read this says they do not like the gullaime, or that they would not move heaven and earth to have a gullaime of their own, then that’s just proof that not everyone tells the truth.
It’s rare that I’m constantly thinking about characters, their motives, what they might be doing next etc … as most novels feature characters that telegraph any particular turn from good to bad/bad to good/ one or the other to grey etc … well in advance, but the characters in this trilogy are so well written that you just can’t tell. They are humans, with the same thoughts as you or I, but they live in a world entirely alien to our own and I think that bleeds through into their personalities and makes them very difficult to predict. If only every book I read kept me as enthralled with the characters as this one did.
I’m a huge lover of nautical novels and this series, being set on the ocean, delivers in ways that a lot of other ones haven’t for me. The attention to detail as far as the world outside of the ship is concerned really helps, along with the intriguing creatures that inhabit the seas beneath the ship. All in all, it creates a wonderful atmosphere that had me forgetting I was reading a fantasy at times.
The end has been set up perfectly well, leaving the reader wanting to dive straight into book three, a tad frustrating considering book 2 is only just being released this month. A good kind of frustration, though, as it’ll make getting my hands on the final instalment all the more enjoyable for having waited.
It’s a little early to say, seeing as how book three is a year or more off, but this quite easily could be my favourite fantasy trilogy to date. I can’t wait to see what Barker does with the final book, nor can I wait to see what world he turns his pen to after all is said and done with the Tide Child Trilogy.
The long and the short of this review is: buy this book. Unless you haven’t already read the first book. In that case, buy both books.