The Bone Ships by R. J. Barker

I was press-ganged by this book for three days… taken into the hull of a ship with bilge water, murderers, and thieves. The Bone Ships is an awesome escape that feels at times a cross between Mad Max and Master and Commander. 

Built of the bones of great sea dragons and armed with gallowbows to defend the Hundred Isles, these boats are deadly weapons against raiders of the Gaunt Isles and other enemies… but the Tide Child is not one of the best. It is a blackboat, crewed by the dregs.  Populated by a foul-mouthed bird, a man-sized avian supernatural windmaker, and surrounded by any number of sea creatures to snatch them off decks… sabotage and misdeeds abound.

The leaders of this expedition: Lucky Meas and Joron Tiller. Both cursed and demoted to the scourge of the fleet, the Tide Child. Captain Joron is quickly usurped by Lucky in the first couple pages of the book, yet she installs him as her second.

A plan to take out a newly discovered dragon, an arakeesian… to take the corpse, the bones for the Hundred Isles, and quite possibly turn the sway of the war.

Barker combines the known criminality crew with their unknown and mysterious backgrounds… a treacherous channel between the motivations of the vaulted rulers and the peons in the hull.  I loved the training scenes to get the sailors into shape: to get it ready for voyage and prepare to shoot the grand bows.

I love the building of the exposition: the crew, the mythos of the setting, the sea and all that rides above and swims below. Take this adventure. You won’t regret it!

5 out of 5 stars.

Thank you to Orbit Books and the author for an advanced copy for review.

23 thoughts on “The Bone Ships by R. J. Barker

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  1. Sounds like an interesting book but something so different from my usual reads… I do have the author’s Age of Assassins on my tbr… Maybe I’ll read one of these…
    Wonderful review Paul… you surely make me wanna give the author a try…

    Liked by 1 person

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