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“I’ll not deny the Hag my love, Let us fly to her in pride. I’ll not deny the Hag my love, For duty have I died.”

the bone shipsThe Bone Ships has to be one of the most promising and exciting starts to a series I have read in a while. This character-driven nautical fantasy is filled to the brim with intrigue, tension, mystery, imaginative and immersive world building, a motley crew of morally ambiguous characters, mystifying mythical creatures, thrilling sea battles, and, naturally, lots of epic seafaring adventures. What’s not to love?!

Now, I personally really enjoyed going into this story completely blind, so I won’t give a rundown of the plot here either. All you need to know is that you will be following a motley crew of morally ambiguous outlaws, led by the notorious and fearsome shipwife Lucky Meas, on a doomed mission to hunt down the first sea dragon seen in hundreds of years. In other words, we have the perfect recipe for drama, tension and chaos!

Whenever I had heard people talk about this book/series, they always mentioned how confusing and complicated it was. And while I agree that Barker just throws you straight into the deep end, I actually wasn’t discouraged or put-off by that at all. If anything, it peaked my curiosity and captured my imagination faster than almost any author ever has, and I was fully on-board the entire way through.

The world building is absolutely breathtaking and I loved how the world naturally opened up as the story progressed. Barker is a master at dropping just the right bits of tantalising information at just the right times, which kept me glued to the page.

I loved the concept of the bone ships and reading all about the trials and tribulations that a crew has to face on the waters.

And I am so impressed with how Barker managed to establish a world that feels so vast and lived in, even though the majority of the story is set on the Tide Child.

We get very intriguing glimpses of all the rich and diverse cultures, the deep and intriguing lore, and the mysterious fantastical creatures, so I truly loved every single minute of exploring this enthralling world.

I already mentioned that this book was not nearly as overwhelming or confusing as I thought it would be, and I think that is largely due to its intimate and character-driven storytelling. Don’t get me wrong, there are some incredibly thrilling and epic battles in here, but there is also a lot of slow and meticulous set-up which requires trust and patience from the reader. I personally really loved that the pacing is quite slow for the most part and that we are largely focused on the characters and their complicated relationships, because that allowed me to get fully emotionally invested. And as always with Barker’s stories, by the end of this book the pay-off is already proving to be more than worth it.

We explore this world through the 3rd person perspective of Joron, and I thought he was a very compelling protagonist to follow. When we first meet him, he is introduced as a somewhat weak, weary and single-minded character with a slightly mysterious and tragic backstory. I’ll admit that it took me a while to warm up to him, but his character growth proved to be absolutely phenomenal. The journey that we went on with him was incredibly moving and captivating, and we quickly got the sense that

the bone ships

the bone ships

the bone ships

the bone ships

the bone ships

the bone ships

the bone ships

the bone ships

Esmay Rosalyne

Esmay is a self-proclaimed professional book devourer from The Netherlands. While (dark) fantasy will always have her heart, she is also a big indie/self-pub enthusiast and will probably read anything if the premise sounds intriguing enough. Or, you know, if it promises complete emotional destruction. When not reading books, she is probably reviewing books, talking about books, or watching videos of fellow bookworms talking about books.

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