Thursday, March 25, 2021

#Review - The Bone Maker by Sarah Beth Durst #Fantasy

Series: Standalone
Format: Paperback, 496 pages
Release Date: March 9, 2021
Publisher: Harper Voyager
Source: Publisher
Genre: Fantasy / Epic

From award-winning author Sarah Beth Durst, a standalone epic fantasy set in a brand-new world of towering mountains and sparkling cities, in which a band of aging warriors have a second chance to defeat dark magic and avenge a haunting loss.

"Durst consistently defies expectations."—Publishers Weekly (starred review)

Twenty-five years ago, five heroes risked their lives to defeat the bone maker Eklor—a corrupt magician who created an inhuman army using animal bones. But victory came at a tragic price. Only four of the heroes survived.

Since then, Kreya, the group’s leader, has exiled herself to a remote tower and devoted herself to one purpose: resurrecting her dead husband. But such a task requires both a cache of human bones and a sacrifice—for each day he lives, she will live one less.

She’d rather live one year with her husband than a hundred without him, but using human bones for magic is illegal in Vos. The dead are burned—as are any bone workers who violate the law. Yet Kreya knows where she can find the bones she needs: the battlefield where her husband and countless others lost their lives.

But defying the laws of the land exposes a terrible possibility. Maybe the dead don’t rest in peace after all.

Five warriors—one broken, one gone soft, one pursuing a simple life, one stuck in the past, and one who should dead. Their story should have been finished. But evil doesn’t stop just because someone once said, “the end.”


Sarah Beth Durst's The Bone Maker is a standalone fantasy which explores the notion of second chances and what comes next after a hero's journey. The Bone Maker introduces new characters in a new setting but is written in Sarah’s captivating narrative style and explores the themes that make her novels favorites in the genre. Like the central characters from her previous novels, The Bone Maker centers on a multifaceted, strong female protagonist who will appeal to fans of Naomi Novik and S. A. Chakraborty. 

25 years ago, during the Bone War, 5 heroes came together and defeated a notorious villain named Eklor and his grotesque army. One of their team fell saving another. 25 years later, Kreya, the leader of the team, is living life as a hermit outside of the village of Eren creating her own bone constructs while trying to find a way to bring her husband, Jentt, back to life. In this reality, the dead are burned so that evil bone workers don't use the dead's bones for their nefarious machinations. That doesn't stop Kreya who desperately wants to find a way to bring Jentt back from the dead.  

Jentt, along with Zera, Marso, and Stran, are the other four members of Kreya's team. While Kreya has been living alone, Zera has become wealthy, Stran got married and has three children, while Marso has some serious issues that make him legitimately afraid of touching another bone to see what the future may hold. Kreya knows that there is only one place that has the bones she needs to raise Jentt and that is the forbidden zone which is lined with walls, and protected by soldiers.

Zera is a bone wizard who makes talismans. She's really the face of the team who has all but vanished into the woodwork. Since people tend to love gossip, Zera's presence gives them plenty to talk about. After a trip to visit Zara, a shocking discovery is made. Their nemesis is very much alive and on the move and it appears that he has swayed numerous important Bone council members to believing he seeks forgiveness and a second chance. Kreya knows better. Kreya slowly puts her old team back together, including a very much alive Jentt, to try to make one more stand for the people of Vos.

There are three types of bone magic users in the novel; bone seers who see the future using bones, bone wizards who create bone talismans imbued with power, and bone makers. Kreya is a bone maker who uses the power of bones to animate machines and inanimate objects and have them function to her will. It's a world that seems rather primitive except for the cable cars and the magic crawling carriages. Bones are what makes everything work here from mechanical contrivances to corpses.

There was also a TON of dialogue in this book, way more than was necessary. Part of this story is told from the perspective of Zara who, as I said, is something of a celebrity. Even though Zera is secure in who she is, her constant need for attention with her sarcastic humor kind of dragged the book down a bit.
The world building could have and should have been broadened a lot more. There is this entire city supposedly has five levels to it, and yet we only get a brief glance as Kreya is proceeding through all 5 levels to reach Zara. I need to explain the ending without spoiling things for future readers. Let's just say that in the end, you have to be really strong willed not to want to stand up and say, that's it?

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