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Book Review: The Bone Ships

Table of Contents

A saga of honor, glory, and warfare, The Bone Ships is the launch of a new fantasy from R.J. Barker.

Two nations at war. A prize beyond compare.

For generations, the Hundred Isles have built their ships from the bones of ancient dragons to fight an endless war.

The dragons disappeared, but the battles for supremacy persisted.

Now the first dragon in centuries has been spotted in far-off waters, and both sides see a chance to shift the balance of power in their favour. Because whoever catches it will win not only glory, but the war.”

Title: The Bone Ships

Series: The Tide Child #1

Author: R.J. Barker

Page Count: 412

Genre: Fantasy

Rating: 4.0/5.0

Date Read: January 12th, 2023

I signed up for The Broken Binding subscription in Summer of 2023 and The Tide Child was the first series I received. These are simply beautiful books to display on my shelf. However, this series has also been on my radar for sometime. Starting in January 2024 I want to get caught up on the amazing books I’ve already received from this subscription service so The Bone Ships by R.J. Barker is the first up.
This is meeting another goal as it’s my January selection for the Domain Reading Challenge that Trudie Skies has going on this year. This represents my story taking place in or on the water.
The pacing seemed fairly traditional for a fantasy epic. The first half of book one seemed to be smooth and setting the tone of things without too much trouble. I will admit even though I own the beautiful TBB versions of this book, I did opt to listen to the audiobook narrated by Jude Owusu which was done very well. The second half of this one really takes off though. Things become more exciting and fast paced.
The world building was done nicely. I think that setup in the first half really began to lay the foundations for this world. There are some very contrasting cultures between the seafaring characters and those spending their time on the lang. Some of the other more unique details which I’m not sure whether are simply created by the author or are used in the real world, were some of the terms used by our seafaring characters. It didn’t take long to figure out what was going on and it did add that next layer of immersion for me. There is also a lot of political intrigue and scheming in at least the first book. I’m going to guess that continues with the series though.
The character development was also done very well. There are several relationships told really well in book one. I can usually back the leader giving out the tough love as long as it seems to go somewhere and it does in this one. I’ll try not to provide much in the way of spoilers but I will say by the end our crew seem far more capable than they were at the start of the book. Which also brings me to our character that develops the most. Where he starts off very timid and unsure of himself but becomes quite the leader in his own right.
Lastly, I wanted to point out a couple of scenes that really stood out for me. I really thought this book had some excellence battle scenes but the landing on the island gave me D-Day vibes. Certainly not in scale but the tension and drama of that scene were great! Also, within the same time of the book, the mission through the caves reminded me of Vietnam tunnel rats. Yes, I’ve read a lot of military history books and listened to a lot of stories from soldiers in those times.
All in all this book did not disappoint me at all. I’d recommend this one for any reader of fantasy who might be on the look out for a seafaring or swashbuckling type of adventure.

World Building 4/5
Pacing 4/5
Character Development 4/5

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Chad Barnard

Owner/Operator of The Hiking Reader Blog. Sharing thoughts on books and hiking trails and trying to find ways to continue to incorporate both hobbies together.

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