Call of the Bone Ships by RJ Barker – A Lush, Nautical Epic Fantasy

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Thank you to Orbit for providing this novel in exchange for an honest review!

And he felt the song within, the beat of his heart, the high-pitched passage of blood through veins, the cymbal-spatter of thoughts, the crack of muscles and the groan of tendons and it was beautiful. Behind it all was some meaning, and although he could not quite fathom it he felt sure of it it, felt certain that this meaning was only a moment away from him.

My review of The Bone Ships can be found here, if you’re entirely new to the Tide Child Trilogy. 

I’ll confess, this sequel did not take me in any of the directions I was expecting at the end of The Bone Ships. I had thought we’d jump straight into the action, calling up the Arakeesians and taking down the Thirteenbern.

Instead, I’ve been given a tale steeped in espionage and cunning. The stakes have been raised, and the winds are changing. Joron will find himself flensed to the bone, losing everything he holds dear. He will be hammered and tempered into steel before he can live out his destiny… or reject it entirely and shape a different future from what has been foretold.

The moment the realization of just what was being risked hit me was singularly profound, and I am deeply, deeply curious how Barker will work all this out in the trilogy’s final book. The Hundred Isles are not what they seem, and the stakes are higher than I ever could have guessed. The implications hinted at in the events of Call of the Bone Ships are grand and epic in scale even as the cast remains small and focused.

Written in the same flowing, descriptive voice as The Bone Ships, you can be well assured you’re in excellent narrative hands. Barker explores themes such as waste, ableism, and the basic assumptions of societies. By setting his epic naval fantasy in a world steeped in perfectionism, matriarchy, and distrust, he creates a world that is engaging and refreshing. He is casual in the extreme as he subverts gender roles and expectations, allowing women readers to experience the same relaxed set of assumptions that male readers tend to enjoy in most fantasy settings.

Goodreads | Bookshop.org |  Book Depository | Amazon

About the Author

RJ Barker lives in Leeds with his wife, son and a collection of questionable taxidermy, odd art, scary music and more books than they have room for. He grew up reading whatever he could get his hands on, and has always been ‘that one with the book in his pocket’. Having played in a rock band before deciding he was a rubbish musician, RJ returned to his first love, fiction, to find he is rather better at that. RJ’s debut epic fantasy novel, AGE OF ASSASSINS was shortlisetd for multiple awards, His new work THE BONE SHIPS, has met with widespread critical acclaim. RJ has also written short stories and historical scripts which have been performed across the country. He has the sort of flowing locks any cavalier would be proud of.

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3 thoughts on “Call of the Bone Ships by RJ Barker – A Lush, Nautical Epic Fantasy

  1. I‘m glad that you liked this better than I did.
    I‘ve quite angry with the cliffhanger at the end. But I don’t want to annoy you with my negative rants 🤔 At the end I liked it, but far from 5 stars.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oof, that’s understandable! I thought the ending felt very appropriate and like a reasonable culmination of all the small things Meas had been doing to prepare Joron to become a more independent person. To me, it was definitely the payoff I’d been hoping for, even if it wasn’t what I expected.

      Liked by 1 person

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