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City of Bones

3.99 of 5 stars 3.99  ·  rating details  ·  953 ratings  ·  81 reviews
Khat, a member of a humanoid race created by the Ancients to survive in the Waste, and Sagai, his human partner, are relic dealers working on the edge of society, trying to stay one step ahead of the Trade Inspectors and to support Sagai's family. When Khat is hired to find relics believed to be part of one of the Ancients' arcane engines, they are both reluctant to become ...more
Paperback, 356 pages
Published December 24th 2007 by (first published June 1995)
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(showing 1-30 of 1,856)
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May 29, 2014 Carol. rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans of Way of Kings
Watch out for Martha Wells–I get the feeling she is playing with a different Dungeons and Dragons set than the rest of the world. Rarely has someone in fantasy so consistently impressed me with inventiveness. In City of Bones, she does it again.

City of Bones is set in the city of Charisat, one of the few major cities remaining after an apocalypse has nearly destroyed humanity. Cities are surrounded by a hostile, desert Waste, and survivors rely on the roads of the Ancients to travel from one cit
A book that made me gleeful to read. Why? It's urban fantasy in an imagined casbah on a desolate world. It gives me a protagonist who's smart enough that when he's stupid, he'd really stupid. It teased me with the possibility of an mpreg (and you're going to have to trust me on this one) that made me think "neat!" rather than "ew." It was a mystery and and a romp at once, and half the mystery was the entire nature of their world. There were no helpless maidens, the villain was never certain, and ...more
N.K. Jemisin
I read this book after reading Ms. Wells' more recent Books of the Raksura, and I think that made for an odd reading experience: I couldn't help seeing it as essentially proto-Raksura material. That's not a bad thing, since I loved the Raksura books, and this one has the same kind of clever-yet-hapless, fish-out-of-water protagonist; the same utterly alien yet believable worldbuilding; the same breathtaking sense of beauty and almost primordial danger in every landscape.

I loved loved loved the f
I don't know what to think of this book. It's my first Martha Wells book, and I'm promised some of her others are even better: this one is beautiful in its attention to detail, its careful worldbuilding. I enjoyed a lot that this is fantasy and post-apocalyptic work at the same time: we're talking magic here, not science, not even science that looks like magic. This is what I've hungered for -- a one-shot fantasy story that isn't focused on romance or anything other than solid characters and a s ...more
4 out of 5 stars

Not the book everyone thinks of when they hear "City of Bones," unfortunately. I have no idea what that one is about, but this one is actually about bones. Cities and wastelands littered with bones and sand and an ancient mystery tied to bones (among other things) and a lot of mysticism revolving around the usage of bones, hence the relevant title.

I think most readers would give this book a 3- to 4-star rating, but for me it's nearly 5.I rarely reread a book right away after fini
I’m a big fan of a kinda-genre of literature I jokingly refer to as “anthropology-porn”. Whether it’s Colleen McCullough’s intimate portrayal of life at the end of the Roman Republic, or Walter M. Miller, Jr’s musings on the clash between faith and politics in a world struggling back from nuclear destruction, I love me some wallowing in the daily lives and exotic mores of places that were or could be in a universe next door to our own. My favorite Elric stories are those in which we catch (frust ...more
Caro Márquez
This book was like a bit slow (just in the beginning!) but rather pleasant journey and I liked it a lot, if not in terms of "amazing", then at least in terms of "quite awesome".
Also, I liked the main character, Khat, he reminded me of a Grumpy Cat a lot, and if you want to know why - go read the book so later we can argue. :P

On serious side "City of Bones" might be classified as a traditional quest fantasy novel - a team of protagonists is looking for certain artifacts and while doing so uncover
I don't remember when it was the last time I read a fantasy novel - and a standalone to boot - without a speck of infodump. The world grows naturally though characters and their position in the society and, by the end of the novel, you have a rather complete picture of this post-apocalyptic world.

A thousand years ago, the apocalypse (as a result of, you can call it, alien invasion) has turned the world in a desert - Waste - inhabited by poisonous creatures. Thinking the entire world would be af
Excellent fantasy. In a post-apocalyptic wasteland, water is scarce and humans barely cling to civilization. Thief, historian and outcast Khat is hired to find a relic for a rich Patrician…thus setting off an ever-escalating adventure. I loved the characters, who clearly had lives of their own outside of the plot, and the dialog was realistic and often funny. Add to that Wells’s gift for world-building and an exciting plot (ghosts! Ancient technology! Internecine feuding! Academic infighting!), ...more
One of my favorite re-reads every single time. Intelligent fight scenes, likeable characters with real flaws, and a plot that balances adventure and mystery, all set in a magical world where history both stretches into the shadowy past and continues to be made Live Right Now. The whole thing feels marvelously well-built and believable without ever getting self-indulgent or showy about how much effort the author put in. Even without the stellar worldbuilding and highly developed cultural framewor ...more
I suppose I should start out by saying that I'm a very picky reader. In fact, I'm so picky that I resort to writing my own novels just so I can frolic in the worlds and situations I wish I could read about. (I hope that doesn't sound cocky or arrogant - it wasn't meant to be.)

So when I come across a book like this, I become overjoyed, and it remains on my shelf until the day I die.

I admit the only reason I picked up this book was because I heard it contains a "marsupial man." Now, I don't mind
An earlier entry in the Martha Wells oeuvre, City of Bones nicely balances her intricate, almost mystery-styled plots with her imaginative world-building. It's admirable how the author manages a certain baroque richness to the prose, while maintaining a fairly action-packed, complex plot. The setting is a sort of post-apocalyptic fantasy world with a rigid caste system and strange rituals. Two outsiders stumble upon a mysterious artifact, and ultimately, a sinister world-threatening plan. The ma ...more
Vote: 3,95
Class: L-A3 (FP)

(a stand-alone Fantasy novel)

I've really enjoyed reading this book: great characters, a captivating plot and a wonderful writing style. A good "classic" fantasy with a well built world.

The world (3,75) well built and interesting, with just as much details to be convincing.

The characters (4,25) are really great, feeling ones. Well drawn and interesting they remain true to themselves from beginning to end.

The story (4,00) is well presented and captivating, even of too sl
A friend recommended I try this book, so I picked it up to read during my vacation. It's not the type of book I usually read, so it took me a little bit to get into the world the author creates. Once I got through a couple chapters, the characters really grew on me and I enjoyed watching the relationships develop. I'm holding out hope that there may be another book out there where Khat and Elen get the chance to try their luck at love with each other. Could just be the romantic in me. But this w ...more
A great post-apocalyptic fantasy world.
The characters and plot are less inspired: outcast ninja-archeologists are our heroic heroes, gritty flavour. They're inexplicably the only decent people in the setting, obviously have heroic immunity and (SPOILER I don't mind letting out, considering it should be on a warning sticker) they succeed at everything before finally saving the day. At least they're fun. Some of the other characters are decent as well. But some of the villains are gratuitously vil
Antonio Williams
It’s hard for me to pick between this novel and "Wheel of the Infinite" as my favorite of works by this author. "Wheel..." holds a special place because it was my "first" in some ways. But this novel kept me constantly intrigued by the ideas and setting. The "love" story part was very well written. And the novel ends on a satisfying, non-sappy note. I hope Wells goes back to writing her stand-alone novels because they are the ones I'm going back to and thinking about.
I too was suprised by this story. I found it hard to put down, and enjoyed all the characters. After a long dryspell, its nice to happen upon a good fantasy story.
This is one of those books that you find at a Friends of the Library sale or at the bottom of a stack in SF/F twilight zone at the back of the bookstore. Post-apocalyptic fantasy set against an Orientalist backdrop with a sexy anthropomorphic cat-man as the main character.

You know what though: it's fantastic. The setting and characters are both excellent, with a world that's both exotic and detailed enough to feel real, lots of adventure and derring-do, humor that's funny, relentless creativity,
Julia Hendon
A well imagined post-apocalyptic fantasy. The world is a dessicated rocky place in the aftermath of a mysterious cataclysm that dried up the oceans and made water one of the most precious commodities. The story centers on Khat, a member of a genetically engineered species, created by the Ancients for unknown reasons but who can survive in the Waste, outside of the surviving cities. Khat becomes embroiled in the search for Ancient relics, some of which turn out to be more important than just as c ...more
An excellent fantasy with a touch of science fiction set in an Arabian setting.

Jasmine Giacomo
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Stephanie Ricker
The last time I went to the library, I saw The City of Bones by Martha Wells, only I didn't know that was what it was. You see, when I was 10 (I think), I found a book about a golden, tiered city in a vast desert, with the most intriguing characters. It was one of my first fantasy books, and I was utterly enchanted with the idea of creating a completely new universe. I was a bit young for the book, though, and I think I put it aside, even though the images were hauntingly imaginative to my 10-ye ...more
Kagama-the Literaturevixen
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Lisa H.
City of Bones is set in long-post-apocalypse Charisat, where the city's eight levels divide the haves from the have-nots and water instead of gold is the currency by which most trade is conducted. Khat, a young krismen (a minority race created through genetic modification by the scientist-magicians of the Ancients - the technologically sophisticated, pre-apocalypse culture), is a skilled relic hunter who draws the unwanted attention of the city's Warders - magically-trained protectors of the rul ...more

This was an early volume in Wells's fuzzily-defined "monsters from outside space and time are invading" series. It concerns a relic-hunter, a scholar, and a novice wizard in a city surrounded by the Waste. The Waste is what happened last time the monsters invaded; nearly the entire planet is uninhabitable. Don't let this happen to you, kids.

Anyway, some relics show up, and life gets tense in a way that it so often does around ancient magical artifacts. (In novels, anyway. To be fair, i
The premise: ganked from Charisat is a city at the Fringe of the Waste, a rocky and treacherous area of desolation formed more than a thousand years ago when a mysterious holocaust drained the sea and destroyed the flourishing civilization of the Ancients. It is a city which survives by trade, and its most valuable merchandise is relics, artifacts from the remains of the Ancient city that once occupied Charisat's present location. Relics are priceless, and in a city where living space is ...more
Rebecca Smucker
A millennium after an ancient race has perished in the destruction of its planet by a mysterious force, two races exist on the planet. One, the krismen, were genetically designed by ancient Mages with the capability of surviving the Waste, the poisonous desert that took over much of the world after the war. They are resistant to poison, have an innate ability to sense direction, and have reproductive systems that allow them to have children only when conditions are amenable. The other race, the ...more
Oh, I am so glad this book is now available. I missed getting it when it was in print, so the ebook saved me.

Much like Wheel of the Infinite, this is a second-world story with a super-interesting protagonist.

In a world that has been nearly-destroyed, the survivors cluster in cities separated by vast swathes of Waste. Only those foolhardy or bred to it venture out into it, and even then at great peril.

We follow two men who deal in the relics of the lost civilization before them, in a sort of gre
Melissa Proffitt
Martha Wells' second book is excellent and also shows the potential she proves herself to have in later books. My favorite thing about her writing is her creation of unusual fantasy worlds--in this case, a postapocalyptic wasteland populated by city-states surviving on the habitable fringes. But it's not *our* world this setting comes from, and the apocalypse happened not because of human corruption, but as a response to what can only be called an alien invasion. Khat is a member of a race that ...more
Melissa Brammer
I really enjoyed this book! Fascinating world post holocaust where water is scarce and valued. A thief and dealer in ancient relics crosses paths with a beautiful mage in training and they work together to stop a power-mad group from unleashing destructive forces. Lots of intrigue, great character development.
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Martha Wells is the author of over a dozen SF/F novels, including Wheel of the Infinite, City of Bones, The Element of Fire, and the Nebula-nominated The Death of the Necromancer. She has a fantasy trilogy: The Wizard Hunters, The Ships of Air, and The Gate of Gods, currently out in paperback, ebook, and audiobook.

Her most recent fantasy novels are The Books of the Raksura series: The Cloud Roads
More about Martha Wells...
The Cloud Roads (Books of the Raksura, #1) The Serpent Sea (Books of the Raksura #2) The Death of the Necromancer (Ile-Rien, #2) The Siren Depths (Books of the Raksura, #3) The Wizard Hunters (The Fall of Ile-Rien, #1)

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