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City of Bones

really liked it 4.00  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,151 Ratings  ·  109 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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May 29, 2014 Carol. rated it it was amazing  ·  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
N.K. Jemisin
Jul 25, 2012 N.K. Jemisin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Sarah Anne
This was a really good book with a nice complex plot. I thoroughly enjoyed every minute of it.

Khat is a relic deal in a post-apocalyptic fantasy world where the level you live in on the tower decrees your status. Khat is a kris, which is somebody who comes from the Waste, which is even lower than the lowest level of the tower itself. The guard of a Patriarch and Warder approaches him and asks (read: demands) him to lead them into the Waste. They specifically need a kris because kris can always t
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
Caro M.
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
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
Jun 04, 2016 Athena rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: adventure & intricately developed SF/fantasy readers
Damn. That was GOOD!

I've been mainlining Martha Wells' writing since GR-friends pointed me toward her splendid Raksura series of novels & short stories: City of Bones is quite different from that but is every bit as good.

Wells writes strongly place-driven novels with well-realized characters; she's nearly created her own genre of 'soft', anthropological science fiction mixed with fantasy elements. Her world-building is extraordinarily intricate, in the case of Bones I practically felt th
This one has a big hook for me as I love stories about exploring the ruins of mysterious "forerunners". I liked Khat, and generally enjoyed the plot, though I was 'constantly' bemused over the (view spoiler) ...more
Aug 07, 2012 Brian rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Edwin Priest
This book, the May of 2016 selection for the SciFi and Fantasy Book Club here on Goodreads, was a real sleeper for me. It certainly exceeded my expectations, which I guess is pretty stupid to say, as it was a total unknown and I really had no expectations when I started it.

The story takes place on a post-apocalyptic desert world, with shades of Dune. This is mostly fantasy, but in some ways it defies classification. It is rich in plot and atmosphere, character development and world construction.
May 24, 2016 Scott rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sffc2016
Am I finally getting over my irrational hatred of all books, movies, and video games with a desert setting? This book may be a step in that direction.

List of Deserts I Hate:
* Gerudo Desert
* Koopahari Desert
* Tatooine
* desert from Prince of Persia: Sands of Time
* Erg Chebbi as depicted in Sex and the City 2: Bitches in the Sand
* desert from Journey
* all other deserts

List of Deserts I Like:
* this one maybe

As much as I dislike the million GoodReads reviews that insist "OMG the world-building was so
Rating: 3.5

The world-building was fantastic! The characters were a little flat and predictable, but I liked them well enough for the book to be enjoyable.

The story is set in a bleak desert world that is the result of some societal collapse. Not much is known about the ancients and what caused this collapse, so of course, curiosity seekers will tread territory heedless of unknown danger. The main character, Khat, is swash buckling rogue type. He has dabbled on the wrong side of the law, but is mo
Jul 30, 2007 Wealhtheow rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
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
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
The world was the best part of this book. I would love to read more about it but I think this is a standalone novel. The desert atmosphere and unique nature of the city was captivating. Mysteries, magic, ghosts, all good. Only a couple of the characters came to life but they were enough. Good 4 star book that I wouldn't hesitate to recommend.
Jun 28, 2015 Férial rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
My first book by Martha Wells and I have to say that it was a good experience.

My only complaint is that I would have been happier with less corridors and courts crossing, steps climbing, walls jumping...

I could also determine very early who the villain(s) really was/were but the plot was fabulous anyway, the world building detailed and satisfying and the

Khat was one of those characters...Remember Kaladin Stormblessed ? Says it all (I love Kaladin).

As for the rest, people have
May 09, 2016 Shan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
My first book by Martha Wells, but it won't be my last.

I want to categorize this as science fiction, not fantasy, despite the mages and ghosts and things. The world is a science fictional world - it's so complete and vivid and real, it takes my breath away. I'm glad I read it in the spring when it's not as hot here as it is in the Waste. It's not just the physical world; there's also the city and the social structure, all the complicated castes and roles. Lictors and vigils and Patricians and W
Maggie K
Jun 02, 2016 Maggie K rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed this book!
Khat is a Kris, a genetically altered human race, and a relic dealer in a post-apocalyptic desert world. When he is set up during a relic finding trek, he is drawn into a heavy action intrigue.

The writing and world building are excellent. Khat is a well done and beleivable reluctant hero.
Marsupial man
roped into a relics scheme
and a lady's bed.
I thought this was a decent sci fi/ fantasy story. It took me a little while to really get into it but once I did I couldn't wait to see what was going to happen. The last quarter of the book was really entertaining and it had a nice conclusion. If their were another book set in this world I would read it. There were some things I would have liked to have more information about and some more endepth detail would have been nice, but over all it was a solid book. I would recommend this book to fan ...more
Adi Greif
Feb 29, 2016 Adi Greif rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
As with the Raksura series, this was a fun adventure where the real brilliance lies in the play on social structure. Have you ever tried to explain to your male friends how frustrating it is as a woman to constantly have to worry about safety? Have them read this book. The main character is a man, but one who comes from a race whose bones can be used to read fortunes. He constantly must be on the lookout for his safety, and it comes across as similar to the way women have to always watch where t ...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
Sep 24, 2013 Craig rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, new-weird
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
I read this book in a group read and had never heard of it before. I was pleasantly surprised! The story is full of adventure and unexpected twists and for me it was a real pageturner. Martha Wells does an excellent job in describing an post-acopalyptic desert world. The story has a lot of interesting characters, but she gives little information about their past. Because of that the characters remain a bit shallow. The plot has too many twists for my liking. Leaving out some of those twists woul ...more
Sep 25, 2014 Francesco rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: _eng, _reviewed, fantasy
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
This book had excellent world building, but overall I’ve found the story to be a bit “repeating” instead of twists and turns. Some characters were really cool, but others ended up flat and felt nothing like they were described (view spoiler)

Overall a nice, but a little lengthy read.
Jun 15, 2013 Kristi rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Carol Wilde
Jun 27, 2016 Carol Wilde rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
One could consider this a post-apocalyptic future tale, but I lean toward identifying as a fantasy. It isn’t clear that the world involved is our earth, although it is populated with human beings – which is often done in fantasies anyway. While there is much talk about the “engines” built by the ancients, there is no scientific basis offered for this “technology”, which might as well be magic. Add functional ESP and divination of the future and the fantasy label feels appropriate.

The world creat
Nov 08, 2015 Joseph rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
This book was thoroughly entertaining, from cover to cover. I especially loved the Waste Scenery details and all the little deadly predators awaiting an untrained adventurer. I vaguely remember another member mention the author in a reference to Dungeons and Dragons and I couldn't agree more. Every 10 pages or so the party was forced to roll for initiative, reflex and the like. I really did enjoy this story and will have to delve a bit deeper into her other works. Great read here folks.
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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...

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