Monday, January 28, 2013

A Throne of Bones

It took me a while to get through Vox Day's latest tome, A Throne of Bones, mostly because it's about three times as long as most of the books I read and, well, Christmas was in there too. Plus, it was on my Kindle, which seems to not be handling the current Minnesota winter all that well. But I finally made it through and I'm really glad I did.

Set in the ancient world of Selenoth, A Throne of Bones weaves an epic tale of political intrigue, war, and epic confrontations of good and evil. There are the intrigues in Amorr, where the Valerian family is trying to deal with their rivalry with the Severans. One Valerian, Corvus, finds himself thrust into the political spotlight while his son, Marcus, becomes the head of a legion in a dangerous time. Not only that, but Amorr is in chaos due to the death of the Sanctiff (an analogue of the pope in the world of Selenoth). But outside Amorr, things are no better. Wolf-men are invading the land of the reavers to the north, forcing them to seek help from their former victims, the people of Savondir. And through it all, an ancient evil is stirring, one that could completely destroy all the races.

So let's get the obvious stuff out of the way. This is the first book in Marcher Lord Press's Hinterlands imprint, one designed for more mature audiences. As the bookstore website puts it:

Hinterlands books may contain vulgarity, profanity, nudity, and/or sexual content, but never for gratuitous purposes.

So going into this, I knew what I was going to find: not your typical Christian fiction content. More mature stuff. Maybe some vulgar language, some sex stuff, and I was braced and ready. Quite the controversy has started over this new imprint. Now, having finished the book, I can give an honest opinion on the whole deal.


I honestly don't see what the big deal is. Is there some vulgar language? Yes, but not an overwhelming amount. Is there some sex in the book? Well, yeah, but between two married people and really, there wasn't much to it. Maybe it's just me, but I didn't see anything in this book to really get upset over.

So is it a good story? Yes, I think it was. It was epic in every manner of the word. Lots of characters, some rather big ideas, and big battle scenes. The characters were well crafted and interesting. Funny thing was, I kept getting the feeling that the "good guys" were all on the wrong side of the conflict. I don't know why, but that's just the feeling I got, especially with Corvus.

Now not everything is perfect with the story. While it is engaging an interesting, it didn't really seem to get out of first gear until about two-thirds of the way through. A lot of it seemed like an extensive prologue to help us understand the world and how it all was put together. It's not until Corvus starts to piece together who is doing what and why that the plot really starts to gel and pulled me along. I'm not saying that the plot elements before that were bad. Far from it. But it wasn't quite as engaging because we didn't know what the stakes were or who all the players were either.

My only other gripe relates to timeline. There were some odd chapter break choices, I thought. Without dropping any spoilers, I'd be reading . . . let's call it Storyline A. The chapter would end, Storyline B would take over and cover some time, and when we came back to Storyline A, it would pick up right where it left off. It was a little odd, but I got used to it.

So all in all, it's a good read but probably not for everyone. Personally, I'm looking forward to book #2.

1 comment:

Keanan Brand said...

Haven't read the book yet, but it's on my list.

Having to wait until about 2/3 of the book in order for the story to pick up -- sounds frustrating. I'd have pitched it a long time before that, probably.

As for chapter breaks and following different storylines, stuff like that usually doesn't bother me. After all, movies and TV shows do it to us all the time -- quick cut between scenes or storylines. If the author doesn't try to be too clever and end up getting us lost, I'm game.

Sounds like the recent hoopla over the content was mainly an uninformed tempest in a teapot.