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Thursday, May 26, 2016

Book review: A Throne of Bones

Given that I'm plugging away at the sequel, it's encouraging to see that people are still discovering, reading, and enjoying A Throne of Bones. A book review by the Witchfinder General:
‘A Throne of Bones’ is superior and intelligent fantasy. It is like a novelisation of ‘Julius Caesar’, with a serious tone and detailed exposition – then with the acid trip of high fantasy. Where it differs from the works of the bard to Vox’s detriment is that this is not tabloid entertainment. Shakespeare is remembered precisely because he was producing the tabloid mass market entertainment of his day. Being considered vulgar by the so-called great and good did not stop the masses flocking to his plays.

‘A Throne of Bones’ has the sophistication but not perhaps the populist appeal. Intelligent, educated people who enjoy fantasy may appreciate the detailed rendering of ancient pseudo-Rome and the classical references. That will certainly stand him in good stead in parts of the fantasy niche market but does not have the sales reach of Mills and Boon or Conan the Barbarian.

Even so the writing is clear and sharp. There is no problem here with quality, exposition or characterisation. A strength of Vox’s writing is to create a cast of believable characters each with their own strengths and flaws, goals, passions and fears.

Despite its intellectual depth Vox’s work certainly appeals more than the loathesome, deathly dull cookie-cutter work of his rivals in which historical accuracy and human nature are often cast aside to match the narrative. Many people would rather read ‘Summa Elvetica’ fifty times over than have to struggle through ‘The Subtle Knife’ by Philip Pullman.

Indeed, to some extent Vox appears to benefit from the relatively unique political and religious perspectives of his work. The historic depth and reach of fantasy unconstrained by the politics of identity is (as Vox himself has argued) a rarity amidst the modern staple of virtue signalling fantasy fiction.
It's going to be interesting to see what the reaction to A Sea of Skulls will be later this year. I think I can safely say that the cultures are deeper, the action is more intense, and there is less coming-of-age and more philosophy. But then, the author is seldom a reliable judge of his own work.

What I can say is that there will be orc, elf, and dwarf perspective characters in addition to the human ones. And I will also note that I am very conscious of the problem George RR Martin created for himself by allowing his perspective characters to grow from 9 to 22.

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46 Comments:

Anonymous Coal fired brisket May 26, 2016 4:10 PM  

As a dedicated fan since Summa Elvetica, I dearly hope the reaver girl has a good end.

Blogger Desillusionerad May 26, 2016 4:13 PM  

Where is the Goblin perspective?...
We are not the same species as orcs you know! - Speciest.

Blogger VD May 26, 2016 4:18 PM  

Where is the Goblin perspective?...

They got a chapter in the first book.

Anonymous Instasetting May 26, 2016 4:19 PM  

You'd have to pay me good money to read 'The Subtle Knife'. Halfway thru it, I realize we're heading toward human sacrifice of a child, and not long after the book goes down, and doesn't get finished. 'Waterworld' was the worst movie of all time for partially this reason, and 'Children of Earth' confirmed my hatred for 'Torchwood'.

Ordinarily, I'm a controlled, civil guy, but I rather dislike these works.

On a more cheerful note, finish up your book, Vox. Me need to read.

Blogger Ben Cohen May 26, 2016 5:06 PM  

Where's the desert cat perspective?

Anonymous Leonidas May 26, 2016 5:08 PM  

Very much looking forward to "Sea of Skulls!"

Blogger Student in Blue May 26, 2016 5:08 PM  

And I will also note that I am very conscious of the problem George RR Martin created for himself by allowing his perspective characters to grow from 9 to 22.

...also known as The Wheel of Time Syndrome.

That is, it's what I've always known it as.

Anonymous MendoScot May 26, 2016 5:09 PM  

Coal fired brisket wrote:As a dedicated fan since Summa Elvetica, I dearly hope the reaver girl has a good end.

I picture her as having a delectable end.

OpenID jeffro May 26, 2016 5:10 PM  

I really want to know what happens on the werewolf front.

Blogger S1AL May 26, 2016 5:19 PM  

"...also known as The Wheel of Time Syndrome.

That is, it's what I've always known it as."

Careful, there are at least a half-dozen people on this blog who will cheerfully until you of how Rand al'Thor is the worst-est protagonist

Anonymous Pax_Romana May 26, 2016 5:21 PM  

Being bearded and a ginger, hating the sun and preferring caves and the ground, I relate best to the dwarves. I can hardly wait to see more of my favorite non-human race. I thought you did them good service in Summa Elvetica and ToB.

Anonymous Ilana Grizzlies May 26, 2016 5:22 PM  

Off topic, but interesting.

Twitter abuse - '50% of misogynistic tweets from women'

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-36380247

Anonymous Brick Hardslab May 26, 2016 5:24 PM  

Any more Hoblets or are they a one-shot deal?

Blogger Student in Blue May 26, 2016 5:31 PM  

@S1AL
Careful, there are at least a half-dozen people on this blog who will cheerfully until you of how Rand al'Thor is the worst-est protagonist

Well goodness, I wouldn't want to get them all stirred up trying to 'until' me for something like that. I don't even like the guy!

That said Rand is just pretty much a generic Gamma protag so I can't see why he qualifies for worst.

Blogger lowercaseb May 26, 2016 5:42 PM  

VD wrote:Where is the Goblin perspective?...

They got a chapter in the first book.


Typical. The Bloodfang Uncle Azogs get all the perspective, while the Eyebiters and the Broken Tusks get screwed again by the Round-Ear.

Blogger Austin Ballast May 26, 2016 6:00 PM  

It was really hard to put all the different parts together in the first book, but it kept me very engaged once I did so. I was glad it seemed to never end, but then it did.

It has been a while, but a bit more description at the start of each chapter, even a partial sentence in the subtitle, might have helped with that IIRC.

Blogger doug whiddon May 26, 2016 6:01 PM  

how about reprinting?

Anonymous Taarkoth May 26, 2016 6:03 PM  

lowercaseb wrote:Typical. The Bloodfang Uncle Azogs get all the perspective, while the Eyebiters and the Broken Tusks get screwed again by the Round-Ear.

#GoblinLivesDon'tMatter

Blogger Adam Meek May 26, 2016 6:21 PM  

My only criticism is that ATOB ended too soon, and on a cliffhanger to boot!

Anonymous VFM #6306 May 26, 2016 6:39 PM  

The crow's perspective was outstanding, a pure kill shot and a subtle answer to Rape Rape's fatal flaw.

The series is as elegant as the original light saber. Wardog's Coin's craven take on Flander's Field is just one facet of how rich and truly diverse and complex Selenoth is.

Also I really dig the Dwarves. Like, by at least two stadia.

Anonymous VFM #6306 May 26, 2016 6:43 PM  

Heh. Flanders Field. Pretty sure you knew I didn't mean the guy on the Simpsons.

Although the goblin gladiator was very funny, if lowbrow.

Anonymous Brick Hardslab May 26, 2016 6:49 PM  

I'm all in on #GreenLivesMatter.

Blogger JL Domingo May 26, 2016 7:06 PM  

One of the bigger dealbreakers for me in that Golden Compass thing was presenting the capacity to lie as a competitive advantage in a young lady.

And the less is said about what Pullman understand as Theodicy, the better.

Blogger Tim May 26, 2016 7:08 PM  

I am absolutely not a fan of science fiction or fantasy in any form. But I am looking forward to dropping whatever I am reading when A Sea of Skulls comes out to read it.

A Throne of Bones, and the related short stories, seem to have been written in exactly the way I like. Attention to detail, historical references, viewpoints from various places, depth for the main characters...

I look forward to reading it.

Blogger Aeoli Pera May 26, 2016 7:22 PM  

Lord of the Rings > A Throne of Bones > Game of Thrones

You can put that on the dust jacket if you want.

Blogger bethyada May 26, 2016 8:10 PM  

Vox, if you haven't read it, can I recommend Geoffrey Monmouth's A History of the Kings of Britain. Regardless of whether one thinks it is more fact or fiction, it has a wealth of intrigue and plot ideas. And while it covers mainly Britain, it interacts with Rome from prior to its founding to its demise (c. 500). There should be several free copies on the net though I have a pdf somewhere I am happy to email.

Anonymous Big Yard, Too Shrimpy To Mow May 26, 2016 8:23 PM  

Meh - I would rather read a ripoff of Asimov, something involving a great galactic power collapsing. Is anybody working on one?

Anonymous 5343 May 26, 2016 9:06 PM  

Big Yard, Too Shrimpy To Mow wrote:Meh - I would rather read a ripoff of Asimov, something involving a great galactic power collapsing. Is anybody working on one?

Way too subtle, Shrimpy. I bet 60% of us missed that ...

Blogger J A Baker May 26, 2016 9:28 PM  

I plan to get to Throne of Bones soon enough and the fact that there soon will.be two books in the series is great, however I've just started reading Peter Grant's Brings The Lightning and am enjoying it. I also plan on Buying the There Will Be War hardcover. It's a bit pricey for my budget, but I want to support Castalia House.

Blogger Feather Blade May 26, 2016 9:35 PM  

Student in Blue wrote:

That said Rand is just pretty much a generic Gamma protag so I can't see why he qualifies for worst.


Mostly because he won't stop meebling about... well, anything really.

Blogger Rantor May 26, 2016 9:53 PM  

22 perspective characters is a little unwieldy... But then doesn't GRRM just kill most of them all off at some point?

Blogger Steven M. Wells May 26, 2016 9:53 PM  

While I look forward to Sea of Skulls, I do wonder when we will see another book about Graven Tower in the Quantum Mortis series.

OpenID luciussomesuch May 26, 2016 10:21 PM  

"Shakespeare is remembered precisely because he was producing the tabloid mass market entertainment of his day. Being considered vulgar by the so-called great and good did not stop the masses flocking to his plays."

Must some people never shake the democratic clichés of their 9th grade English teachers? If Shakespeare were the Michael Bay of his time, he wouldn't be remembered at all.

If he were so "vulgar" why did the good and the great flock to Blackfriars, and why did Shakespeare himself cancel out daylight from so long a string of plays while he was playing there?

Hell, for all we know Shakespeare despised the freakin' Globe. Just because he uses a vast register of voices from low to high doesn't mean he didn't enjoy the consciousness of all the privilege of genius. And that's assuming he WASN'T Francis Bacon. And I don't assume he was-- but even Larry Auster was anti-Stratfordian.

Blogger Steve Mackelprang May 26, 2016 10:59 PM  

Sooner the better.

Blogger roundeye May 26, 2016 11:12 PM  

There was one aspect/plot device of A Throne of Bones I found unsatisfying. I will buy the sequel. But the short story, with the orc officer and the "little Gobbos" , that was really, really good.

I have spent the last year and a half working through the Drizzit books. The series is up and down, but mostly up. I am an eighties child, loved D n D, and even as a seventh grader walked into the TSR shop in Lake Geneva, saw Gary Gygax, got bashful and left.

Rome and D and D...good stuff.

Anonymous Takin' a Look May 26, 2016 11:15 PM  

Best of luck to you Vox.

OT-low-trust societies tend to believe in witchcraft.

belief in witchcraft erodes trust

I think as usual, the scientists get it bass-ackwards.

Blogger Jack Ward May 27, 2016 12:04 AM  

Almost time to re-read ToB in prep for the sequel. Can't come soon enough, I say.

Blogger Aeoli Pera May 27, 2016 1:43 AM  

roundeye wrote:I have spent the last year and a half working through the Drizzit books. The series is up and down, but mostly up.

Hrmm...last I checked in was the Hunter's Blades Trilogy, at which point I finally gave up on the Drizzit. Really enjoyed the first ten or so, but every character eventually runs dry of potential.

Blogger Sir Thermite May 27, 2016 2:26 AM  

Congrats, Vox on an excellent and worthy review! Having read and enjoyed ATOB, SE, and the accompanying novellas/short stories (plus buying the hardcover for my library manager sister who loves fantasy but hates Amazon's e-book stance towards libraries) my only beef is that enough time has elapsed that I may need to re-read again to properly remember the intertwining character plots before reading A Sea of Skulls. I can hear all the George Rape Rape Martin fans saying "Cry me a river (journey)" but I'm only following his story because HBO distills it into 1-hour chunks and puts real faces to all the names.

Blogger Shimshon May 27, 2016 3:37 AM  

Whatever you do, do NOT succumb to the Doritos temptation.

Blogger Cluebat Vanexodar May 27, 2016 8:12 AM  

I sure wish that I could find a hard copy.

Blogger Markku May 27, 2016 8:28 AM  

All the work necessary for a reprint is about 95% done. It only needs a little bit of attention from an artist to remove all the Marcher Lord Press logos and texts, and switch with our own. It wasn't originally designed with this possibility in mind, so they are already "burned" into the layers and need artistic effort to take out.

The only real obstacle is that we are on contractual deadlines for many other books, but not this one. So, it tends to get pushed back, time after time.

Blogger Cluebat Vanexodar May 27, 2016 1:15 PM  

Good to know. Thanks.

Anonymous MendoScot May 27, 2016 8:50 PM  

Have at it. Will preorder.

Blogger Mr. B.A.D. May 29, 2016 12:23 PM  

Meerfin gets a half chapter in the first third of A Throne of Bones.

Yeah, I've been pimping Selenoth to any readers that I come across. I feel that it is of such quality that it would serve an evangelical role for bringing the non-ilk into your other works.

I've read Summa 3 times, the 3 short stories 3 times, and I'm halfway through my second reading of ATOB.

Blogger Mr. B.A.D. May 29, 2016 12:24 PM  

This comment has been removed by the author.

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