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The Throne of Bones

4.09  ·  Rating Details ·  314 Ratings  ·  31 Reviews
Imagine earthy Tolkienesque characters in a setting full of cemeteries, graverobbers, necromancers, corpse-eaters--even a huge labyrinthine necropolis. Imagine mephitic gardens where the sarcophage, selenotrope, and necrophilium bloom. Then throw in star-crossed lovers, crazed zealots, stalwart heroes, bloodthirsty renegade armies, hideous monsters, and likeable misfits. Y ...more
Paperback, 288 pages
Published August 20th 2000 by Wildside Press (first published 1997)
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Oct 11, 2012 knig rated it really liked it
Recommended to knig by: mark monday
Shelves: quirky, bizarro, 2012
Finished packing for a jolly abroad at 3 am: that’s a preposterous hour to finish anything, too late to sleep, too early to get up. Read a book, then. Never mind that I have my own Pisa book stack teetering over right next to my bed: that’s just, too…..reasonable, and not grumpy at all, one needs to throw ones weight around somehow, at 3 am in the morning. Soooo, kindle download: Brian McNaughton’s Throne of Bones (just to give Mark a chance to redeem himself).

Looks, feels, and reads like a Love
Feb 14, 2007 Robert rated it it was amazing
"Throne of Bones" is a masterpiece of dark fantasy. The book contains a collection of short stories and one novella, all of which take place in the same rich and seedy world of Brian McNaughton's Seelura: a place of sprawling urban secrets and decay, of necromancy and lust, of unfulfilled dreams and star-crossed love. Shades of Jack Vance, Clark Ashton Smith and H.P. Lovecraft are to be found in McNaughton's work, yet he manages to capture a vibrant grasp of humanity in his writing that none of ...more
S.E. Lindberg
Sep 29, 2011 S.E. Lindberg rated it really liked it
Fresh, Disturbing Escapism

I am biased toward enjoying provocative fantasy/horror, and Throne of Bones delivers a pleasantly disturbing escape that is too shocking for young adults. The first tale, Ringard and Dendra, admittedly should prove digestible to many. Less so are the next six stories, which are a connected set (the titular Throne of Bones sequence) and should prove weird and jarring even to mature dark fantasy readers (can you say "ghoul erotica"?). Here, the timid and disoriented may
Apr 21, 2016 Joseph rated it really liked it
A loosely-linked collection of short stories (one of which is, itself, a novel-length loosely-linked collection of short stories) in the tradition of Clark Ashton Smith or of Lovecraft's Dreamlands stories (especially the more ghoul-heavy portions of Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath) but turned up to NC-17.

Contains RDA of three of your four basic necros: -mancy, -phagy and -philia. (n.b. I'm not sure what the fourth necro would be.)
Nov 16, 2008 Danna rated it did not like it
Shelves: abandoned
This book was loaned to me long ago with rave reviews and was then lost in the vast pile of books in my study. When I found it again last week, I finally gave it a go. I can understand from an academic perspective why this fellow is lauded as a gifted writer and one of the greats in his genre, this title in particular being considered as foundational for ghouls as Dracula is for vampires. I knew what to expect so the gore was not surprising, and I'm typically not squeamish anyway. I definitely l ...more
Apr 19, 2011 Bandit rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Inspired by such classics as Smith, Howard and Lovecraft, McNaughton creates a unique bizarre grotesque and spellbinding world populated with the much ignored monsters that are ghouls. This book won a fantasy award, but the author blends genres and there is plenty of horror in here for horror fans. This is a collection of interconnected stories set in an unnamed place and time, yet they are written with fairly modern dialogue and teriffic sporadic humor. Vivid descriptions and good pacing make t ...more
Picked this up on a recommendation for a horror book with strong fantasy elements. The stories are about unfortunate humans who stumble upon or in many cases seek out the kingdom of the Ghouls. Who wouldn't like more stories about ghouls? I was pretty excited getting into it because the writing is really good. However, I became disgusted by the explicit bucket list of sexual depravity (rape, sodomy, bestiality, incest, and of course necrophelia) that seemed to be a part of every story that I end ...more
Arun Divakar
Jul 11, 2016 Arun Divakar rated it liked it
Every so often there is a book that I chance upon which does not hesitate even a bit in grabbing hold of me and shoving me headlong down pathways that I never dared venture.Sure I call myself a fan of horror as a genre but am I deeply read in the genre ? Well since you put it that Look at the standard props in horror that borders fantasy and there is an outpouring of certain cliches : vampires, werewolves, witches et al which are now no more scary. There was however one such deniz ...more
Gregor Xane
Apr 26, 2012 Gregor Xane rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2012
This thing just needs to be read.
Sep 07, 2011 Erika rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy
This book's got everything. Ghouls, vampires, ghosts, witches, necrophilia, pedophilia, incest, cannibalism, rape... Man, I could go on listing stuff. But I won't, read it and find out for yourself.

It's hard rating a compilation of stories, even if they're all from the same author. In my perspective this books is made of "The Throne of Bones" (main long story) and lots of filler (other short stories). The way stories intertwined going back and forward on 'The Throne of Bones' section was interes
Dec 16, 2009 Melanti rated it it was ok
Shelves: e-book, anthology, horror, 2010
I'm torn on this book.
I loved the writing style, the way the stories were put together and how most of them formed one cohesive world.
There's some wonderful and unique ideas in the book about how ghoulism works, the idea of becoming what you eat, the treatment of souls, etc.
But there's also some horrible ideas -- oddly enough, I found the necrophilia to be less disturbing than the repeated allusions to/actions of rape.
I guess I'm just more used to horror writers that work with atmosphere rather
Nov 01, 2009 C rated it it was amazing
Very refreshing.
Oct 04, 2015 Brevard rated it it was amazing
I love this book!
Call it a 3.5. Dark fantasy is a bit hard to put a finger on. It's not Lovecraftian fantasy, as it tends away from Lovecraft's combination of real world science and undefinable horror. It's different from the "gritty" trend of current fantasy in that it's more likely to embrace magic and monsters than any sense of realism. And it's not quite gothic either, though it certainly tends towards a lot of the tropes--gothic, generally, requires a certain touch of real world approach as well. A sort of ...more
The Throne of Bones is a collection of short stories by Brian McNaughton in a generally horror genre. As Alan Rodgers says in the Introduction, it is more of a Fantasy Horror in the vein of J.R.R. Tolkien. All of the stories take place in the same general geographical location, which works well to tie all of the stories together. However, each story takes place at a different place in time. They are more or less in chronological order to avoid confusion. Most of the stories are centered on ghoul ...more
Shannon Dale
Sep 01, 2015 Shannon Dale rated it really liked it
One thing they don't mention in the reviews that I've read is that there is a lot of sex in this book...and not sweet, romantic love - making. This book makes Game of Thrones look innocent.

However, if that doesn't bother you, or you can get past it, I think it's a great book. The stories are creative. The character names are amazing. Everything sort of links together. The author clearly had an incredible imagination.

I did find it a tad long. There were two short stories that I found a bit bori
Aug 18, 2016 Sohail rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This is a very shallow, meaningless and worthless book. There are some parts that are interesting, but one can not ignore the fact that this book is not horror, but the most disgusting kind of porn - necrophilia - disguised as horror. And the erotic parts are not just bad, they are extremely juvenile, the kind of daydreaming that you'd expect from a 15 year old, hormone driven boy. From a supposedly 'grown up' author, I expected a lot more. I did not expect a literary masterpiece, not even some ...more
Feb 27, 2013 Duane rated it it was amazing
Mr McNaughton in this book has managed to suffuse the worlds of his influences with enough of his own vision that it stands apart, alone, atop the hill built of the skeletons of works that came before him. It is not easy to take the characters and situations of his forebears, especially one Old Gent from providence, and give them your own voice. The tales in this book more than accomplish that goal. I read the book once, and couldn't believe that it was that good, so I had to go through it again ...more
Tazio Bettin
Nov 08, 2014 Tazio Bettin rated it it was amazing
The contrast between the sheer gruesomeness of the subject and the beauty of the prose make this book quite unique. It has the exquisite elegance of Lovecraft's best pose, albeit with a clearly more modern tint, and it's an absolute pleasure to read. Unless reading about people having sex with corpses and/or eating them repels you too strongly. This book doesn't pull punches when it comes to describing the most brutal scenes. It starts with a supernatural horror story which is disquieting but no ...more
Patrick D'Orazio
Nov 05, 2010 Patrick D'Orazio rated it it was amazing
Its obvious that I discovered this book long after many, but I am glad that I did. What a pleasurable trip down a macabre highway this set of short stories turned out to be!
I have to say, without trying to sound schticky, that McNaughton does for Ghouls what Romero does for Zombies. And yes, these two beastie types are distinctly different. I have never experienced anything ghoulish in writing and this book serves as an excellent primer on the subject.
In addition to several ghoulish stories we
Sep 26, 2011 Bill added it
This book... on the one hand, for a book of short fantasy/horror stories, it's about the best thing I can ever recall reading. I really wish I could bother describing why right now. Oh well.

On the other hand, there is a lot of corpse sex and eating in there. Because it's about ghouls.

So there you go: if you like the idea of reading a fair number of stories that hinge on ghouls eating brains and turning into people, or if you're all right with that and just like to read good fantasy/horror writi
Ryan Crampton
May 31, 2015 Ryan Crampton rated it it was amazing
To be honest i'd never heard of Brian McNaughton prior to reading a review on goodreads so when i came across a copy of this in my local second hand bookstore i thought i'd give it a go. I was not disappointed, while some other reviewers have accused the book of being full of gratuitous sex and violence (and there is plenty of both i admit) i never found it unnecessary to the development of the plot. A masterpiece of world building and winner of the world fantasy award winner (a sure sign of qua ...more
Mar 30, 2016 Todd rated it it was amazing
I'm not entirely sure why I loved this book so much, but I did. It recalls Fritz Leiber, Clark Ashton Smith, HP Lovecraft, RE Howard, Vance, etc., etc., but with a modern flair. There's horrific necrophiliac sex, there's a lot of gore, NONE of the characters are likable - it's basically a world of evil wizards, evil professors, evil innkeepers, evil mayors... basically, evil NOUNs. It's the best tribute to the early days of SFF, before horror and fantasy had their nasty breakup, that I've read.
Nov 07, 2016 agata rated it liked it
Shelves: reviewed, ebook
I'm not really sure how to review this collection. I went from "I'm amazed" to "a little bit disappointing" to "I very much hope for improvement".
At first a very delightful kind of vile and disturbing but somehow a little bit disappointing in the end. There are some gems very much worth reading and it is overall a nice take on transgression. But maybe you can take transgression only so far before it looses its thrill?
Sep 12, 2014 Denver rated it it was ok
I wanted to love it. Excellent writing and prose; a well done style and 'mood'. With all that going for it, and so clever in its execution, I just didn't enjoy any of the stories. Not for me, I suppose.
May 14, 2014 Wes rated it it was amazing
The Throne of Bones, in my opinion, is the best book on Ghouls ever written, and in a very Klarkashtonian style. I've read it several times now, and have enjoyed it more each time.
Justin Howe
Feb 16, 2012 Justin Howe rated it really liked it
Fantasy short stories for fans of Jack Vance, Clark Ashton Smith, and Fritz Leiber. Not so much grimdark as morbid and blackly comic.
May 14, 2014 Michael rated it it was ok
Read it because an author I respect recommended it. In the end it came off as gory and gross for the sake of shock rather than contributing to the story. Well written just not very engaging.
Pat rated it it was amazing
Jun 13, 2016
Chris rated it it was amazing
Jul 25, 2010
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Brian McNaughton was an American writer of horror and fantasy fiction who mixed sex, satire and black humour. He also wrote thrillers.
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“Goul or ghul, in Arabic, signifies any terrifying object which deprives people of the use of their senses; hence it became the appellative of that species of monster which was supposed to haunt forests, cemeteries, and other lonely places, and believed not only to tear in pieces the living, but to dig up and devour the dead.” 2 likes
“She screamed now. She raved. She raged through the tomb, strewing bones in her wake, tearing limbs and heads from desiccated bodies. She hated the dead. She hated the living even more, those who had abandoned her and still breathed the open air.” 1 likes
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