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The Valley of Bones

(A Dance to the Music of Time #7)

4.13  ·  Rating details ·  656 ratings  ·  91 reviews
With their lives drastically remodeled by World War II, the characters of The Dance to the Music of Time series continue their colorful exploits. Nicholas Jenkins, the narrarator, now in his thirties, is second-lieutenant in an infrantry regiment and life in the army is examined at startingly close range. Like its predecessors, this volume in the series is witty, sparkling ...more
Hardcover, Large Print, 284 pages
Published January 1st 1999 by ISIS Large Print Books (first published 1964)
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Not Dry.

What I mean is that the title of the Seventh period of The Dance seems to be based on a passage by Ezequiel, but the epithet Dry has not been selected out of the original text.

The Valley of Dry Bones

The hand of the Lord was on me, and he brought me out by the Spirit of the Lord and set me in the middle of a valley; it was full of bones. He led me back and forth among them, and I saw a great many bones on the floor of the valley, bones that were very dry.  H
Algernon (Darth Anyan)
Jul 12, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016
Well, Nick Jenkins, you're in the army now! and a change of tune is in order for the seventh installment of the Dance. The almost carnival atmosphere of high society saloon intrigues and romantic entaglements is replaced by a darker, bleaker, all-male world guided by endless regulations and tedious routines. Powell, through the eyes of his perennial narrator Nick, is still able to find humour in his surroundings and in his fellow officers, but the laughs sound hollow when the outcome is more tha ...more
Vit Babenco
Dec 22, 2015 rated it it was amazing
“The hand of the Lord was upon me, and carried me out in the spirit of the Lord, and set me down in the midst of the valley which was full of bones… Behold, I will cause breath to enter into you, and ye shall live. And I will lay sinews upon you, and will bring up flesh upon you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you, and ye shall live; and ye shall know that I am the Lord…” Ezekiel 37.
Anthony Powell portrays the army as a legion of resurrected dry bones serving to the god unknown and s
Jun 27, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: lit-british

The General carried a long stick, like the wand of a verger in a cathedral, and wore a black and brown checked scarf thrown carelessly about his neck. A hunting horn was thrust between the buttons of his battle-dress blouse.

or, if you prefer,

Takes place: First half of 1940.
Jenkins in his early 30s.
Book published: 1964. Anthony Powell was in his late 50s.

Significant characters (view spoiler) that visit the narrative: Ralph Barnby, Ge
May 18, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2016
“War is long periods of boredom punctuated by moments of sheer terror.”
-- old combat adage


Powell's 'The Valley of Bones' is a war novel that has nothing to do with war. Well, that is not right, there are signals that the war is beginning and the Nazis are invading countries in Europe. Nick Jenkins finds himself in command of a platoon training for war with the Germans. His company is a company whose officers are all primarily bankers and whose enlisted ranks seem filled with miners. Instead of
Diane Barnes
Jul 05, 2016 rated it really liked it
Now WWII has started, and Nick is thrown into a completely different society. Military life is not exactly what he had thought, by turns boring and insane, with some strange characters in the mix. This installment goes in a much different direction from earlier ones, while still keeping us in the loop with familiar characters from the past. Still enjoying this series immensely, and looking forward to #8.
I thought of this book when I was reading New Moon last week. In Stephenie Meyer's novel, the heroine is abandoned by her boyfriend, whom she believes to be the love of her life, and goes into a black depression. Meyer completely chickens out of describing what this is like. The early parts of the book are arranged as a diary; she just presents four months as empty, with no entries at all. Well, given the general level of her writing skills, she no doubt made a good pragmatic decision, but it is ...more
Jun 17, 2014 rated it really liked it
Another Powellian delight

The Valley of Bones is Volume 7 of "A Dance to the Music of Time" and is yet another great instalment in this wonderful 12 novel series.

I am now finding it harder and harder to read other books as I work my way through the "A Dance to the Music of Time" novels. Indeed I have now concluded that this effort of will is beyond me and, as far as possible, I am going to exclusively read this series until that sad day arrives when I turn the last page of Volume 12.

The Valley
Oct 20, 2015 rated it really liked it
This sequence of novels continues to delight. This time, Nick is dealing with the tedium and inefficiencies of being in the army in the early days of the war, nowhere near any active service. The problem of not knowing what a codeword means is wonderfully illustrated when Nick is on phone-answering duty in the Company Office.

"It was Maelgwyn-Jones, Adjutant of our Battalion.
'Fishcake,' he said."
After repeats of this:

"'Fishcake, I tell you ...'
I know Leather and Toadstool ...'
'Fishcake has tak
Connie G
In "The Valley of Bones" Nick Jenkins is a Second Lieutenant in the army. Set in 1940, his regiment has been training in Wales and Northern Ireland. The regiment, composed mostly of former Welsh bankers, has not seen any action yet. Powell includes lots of military humor in this book, as well as some philosophical thoughts about war.

When Nick is on leave from an Aldershot training course, he visits his wife and catches up on the news of his old friends in London (characters from previous books).
Katie Lumsden
Sep 30, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 5-stars
I really enjoyed this reread. It's a really interesting examination of army life in the Second War World.
Kim Kaso
The author caught the quotidian nature of serving in the military, the monotonous routine combined with serving with a variety of personalities. Petty politics exacerbate everyday life. Another good entry in the series.
Sep 18, 2009 rated it it was amazing
The seventh novel in Powell’s series, “A Dance to the Music of Time,” starts with narrator Nick Jenkins in basic training in the army at the beginning of WWII, first in England, then in Ireland. The title refers to the passage in Ezekiel where the prophet has a vision of a valley of dry bones in which the scattered bones assemble themselves, become enfleshed, and turn into a mighty army. Basic training introduces a whole new cast of characters to the series, each carefully delineated. Much less ...more
This is the seventh novel in the sequence of twelve books of the series "A Dance to the Music of Time."

It was published in 1964, it is the first of the war trilogy, poignantly capturing the atmosphere of the time whilst offering a subversively comic view of Army life.

Its sequel is "The Soldier's Art."

4* A Question of Upbringing (A Dance to the Music of Time, #1)
4* A Buyer's Market (A Dance to the Music of Time #2)
4* The Acceptance World (A Dance to the Music of Time, #3)
4* At Lady Molly's (A
Jun 30, 2014 rated it really liked it
The Valley of Bones is the seventh book in Anthony Powell’s epic twelve novel sequence. With this novel, Powell leaves behind the familiar London streets, the society of large houses and clubs that in the previous six novels we spent so much time. War has come to Europe, and changed everything for many people. As the novel opens in 1940 we find Nicholas Jenkins a Second Lieutenant in Wales. Here we are introduced to a host of new characters including Jenkins’ commanding officer Captain Gwatkin a ...more
Mar 02, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
‘No porridge?’
‘No porridge, sir.’
General Liddament pondered this assertion for some seconds in resentful silence. He seemed to be considering porridge in all its aspects, bad as well as good. At last he came out with an unequivocal moral judgement.
‘There ought to be porridge,’ he said.

In my review of The Kindly Ones, I said that the carnival of Europe was over after that heartbreaking day in September 1939. Here, however, in the 7th volume of Powell's Dance to the Music of Time, the carousel is
Aug 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The book mostly documents army life during WWII. However did we win?
Jan 27, 2011 rated it it was amazing
THE VALLEY OF BONES, the seventh volume of Anthony Powell's sequence "A Dance to the Music of Time" sees World War II well under way. In early 1940 Nicholas Jenkins is assigned as a subaltern in a Welsh infantry unit, which is soon posted to Northern Ireland. The Dance perennially exhibits to the reader comical and grotesque personalities, and anyone who has ever done military service knows that nowhere else do you meet such a variety of odd people in such a short time.

Thus we meet Gwatkin, a b
Tom Ewing
Dec 27, 2014 rated it it was amazing
A pleasure to return to Anthony Powell's series, which begins its wartime, 'Autumn' trilogy with a novel centred on the haphazard bureaucracy of the early Second World War and an almost entirely new cast. As is usually the case, the arc of one particular character gives the book its individual shape within the sequence - in this case, the truncated military career of Rowland Gwatkin, Welsh bank employee turned eager officer.

While the narrator, Nick Jenkins, has joined up out of duty and reacts
Dec 28, 2010 rated it really liked it
This installment widens the series' social lens: Nick is in the army now, and those that come under Powell's probing gaze are no longer part of the upper class or intellectuals or those Nick has known since childhood--in fact, only a few regular characters appear briefly in this novel. Powell's insights on human nature remain compelling, and we get more of Nick's feelings of boredom and depression (he's not--yet?--in active combat) as the machine grinds him down and he fulfills his unglamorous, ...more
Jun 28, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 1001-books
For me, the beginning of three books that make up the war trilogy section of A Dance to a Music of Time was an entertaining read with more of a tendency to farce than any of the previous novels so far. I wondered if this was the result of Powell’s own experience in the war.

Those of you hoping for any action sequences will be disappointed. Nick Jenkins sees no combat service and is, instead, involved in a series of bureaucratic posts that seem, to me at least, interminably dull occupations.

May 26, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned
Third time through, this time on audio. I had forgotten (or never realized -- not sure which) how funny this volume is. As others have pointed out, the vast array of characters developed in the first six novels are not all that prominent. In a way, I think this novel is the pivot point away from the more insular world of the interwar England and the pointer to the larger world of the war and postwar world to come. It's also a way to show the tedium of military life away from the front and the sh ...more
May 01, 2011 rated it it was amazing
I love this series. It's as rich as any fiction I've read and the deeper one goes into the 12-novel cycle the better it gets.
Nov 30, 2014 rated it it was ok
Shelves: british
And the gossip and ennui moves to the war...
Matthew Hunter
Yet again, an infinitely lovable book from Anthony Powell. The Valley of Bones is the seventh installment in Powell's twelve-novel series A Dance to the Music of Time, and the first part of what's called the war trilogy. The entire book is set in the British Isles during the early months of World War II. Tedium and mounting fear of invasion impact all forms of relationship.

Powell uses the backdrop of war on the Continent to unleash some of his best character development work to-date. Perfect exa
Jan 02, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
My first completed book of the new year. And a good one it was. This series continues to impress this reader. My favorite quote from this volume:
I was impressed for the ten thousandth time by the fact that literature illuminates life only for those to whom books are a necessity.

I totally relate to the character Nick Jenkins frustration in trying, in vain, to convey the beauty and power of literature to those who simply do not read books. This, alas, seems to be the vast majority of people i
Apr 10, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
War begins. The boredom and absurdity of military life. The loosening of class barriers and sexual norms.
Jul 01, 2014 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
David Mcangus
Mar 23, 2013 rated it liked it
With Britain on the precipice of full immersion into WW2. I thought it might give Powell the chance to expand his style and take his characters into environments they wouldn't be comfortable with. The jolt of living a relatively upper class existence and at once being thrust into a situation where they would be interacting and depending on people from all walks of life, I found an interesting prospect. Unfortunately that is yet to happen. Despite the drastic change in situation, the style and fo ...more
Judi Moore
Feb 18, 2011 rated it it was amazing
I have found all 7 of these volumes of A Dance to the Music of Time glorious and unputdownable. Mr Powell's sentence construction is oddly un-modern (he uses many, many commas) but that doesn't matter. Not an awful lot happens in each book (I'm a big fan of plot) but time and again I find it's 4 in the morning and my eyes refuse to focus on the next paragraph. I have 2 more volumes on the 'to read' pile (goody) and then I await Christmas when my kindly brother will supply the final 3. They're ab ...more
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Anthony Dymoke Powell CH, CBE was an English novelist best known for his twelve-volume work A Dance to the Music of Time, published between 1951 and 1975.
Powell's major work has remained in print continuously and has been the subject of TV and radio dramatisations. In 2008, The Times newspaper named Powell among their list of "The 50 greatest British writers since 1945".

Other books in the series

A Dance to the Music of Time (1 - 10 of 12 books)
  • A Question of Upbringing (A Dance to the Music of Time, #1)
  • A Buyer's Market (A Dance to the Music of Time #2)
  • The Acceptance World (A Dance to the Music of Time, #3)
  • At Lady Molly's (A Dance to the Music of Time, #4)
  • Casanova's Chinese Restaurant (A Dance to the Music of Time, #5)
  • The Kindly Ones (A Dance to the Music of Time, #6)
  • The Soldier's Art (A Dance to the Music of Time, #8)
  • The Military Philosophers (A Dance to the Music of Time, #9)
  • Books Do Furnish a Room (A Dance to the Music of Time, #10)
  • Temporary Kings (A Dance to the Music of Time, #11)

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