The Bone Ship’s Wake by R. J. Barker – A Book Review

Bone Ship's Wake


The sea dragons are returning, and Joron Twiner’s dreams of freedom lie shattered. His Shipwife is gone and all he has left is revenge.

Leading the black fleet from the deck of Tide Child Joron takes every opportunity to strike at his enemies, but he knows his time is limited. His fleet is shrinking and the Keyshan’s Rot is running through his body. He runs from a prophecy that says he and the avian sorcerer, the Windseer, will end the entire world.

But the sea dragons have begun to return, and if you can have one miracle, who is to say that there cannot be another?

Author: R. J. Barker

Publisher: Orbit

Release Date: 28/09/2021

Pages: 493

Genre: Fantasy

Series: The Tide Child Trilogy #3

My Chosen Format: Kindle

My rating of ‘The Bone Ship’s Wake’: 4 out of 5

Purchase: Amazon, Audible


I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

This has been one heck of a trilogy and I’m just sad it’s over. I suppose the upside is that the author won’t drag it out for ten books and cause the series to go stale. So there’s always the happy memory of that never really happening to look back on. Not to mention that happy feeling of completing a series rather than letting it linger on my to be read pile!

I’ll start by saying that, although good, it was by no means as exciting as book two. For me, RJ achieved that rare thing of making book two the best of the trilogy. For my money, this book was always going to struggle after the rip-roaring pace set in book two.

That wasn’t helped by the slow, plodding chase on the high seas that took up good portions of this book. I get why it happened and I get what the author was going for. But, for me at least, it just slowed things down and sucked my enjoyment away for good portions of it. There’s only so much worrying a character can do at the end of a chapter about getting caught in the midst of a glacial speed kind of chase before it starts to feel more commonplace than worrying for the reader. With this gripe in mind I’d say that, perhaps clocking in at nearly five-hundred pages wasn’t necessary. Some bits could have been chopped and nothing would have been lost.

There were also moments/deaths that seemed to just happen/happen with near-pointless reasons or little substantial reason for actually happening. Those moments were ringed by a lot of good, which lifted them up to some extent.

As ever, the lore surrounding the Gullaime was wonderfully done and that character, and the race as a whole, was a huge part of the enjoyment factor of this book for me. I want Gullaime merchandise.

I enjoyed the ending as it wasn’t really something I was expecting. I particularly enjoyed the feeling of coming full-circle in a round about kind of way. So hats off to RJ for that ending.

The overall tone for most of this book, I’d say a good solid two-thirds, was bleak to oppressively bleak. The situations going on within the plot, the overall mood of the crew and the events transpiring in the world at large just had so little joy in it that you couldn’t help but wonder if the characters, or some of them at least, may end up tipping over the edge out of sheer misery. It made the high points feel that much higher when they were happening in such a miasma of misery and it was just about done well enough to not feel too much to trudge through. It was a damn close thing, though.

Overall, I really enjoyed this trilogy, despite a few iffy moments in this book. I’d highly recommend anyone goes out of their way if they fancy a good nautical fantasy series as the Tide Child Trilogy certainly fits the bill.

7 thoughts on “The Bone Ship’s Wake by R. J. Barker – A Book Review

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