Sheffner's Reviews > A Throne of Bones

A Throne of Bones by Vox Day
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really liked it

Surprisingly good. Can’t wait to read the sequel. The story has a great number of characters, multiple storylines and several philosophical dialogues on the morality of war, the value of honor, how to choose a spouse, etc. Many characters face difficult decisions - moral, political, strategic, familial. If you don’t enjoy Dickens or Neal Stephenson or similar writers who create long, complex stories which include multiple characters and storylines, philosophical and moral inquiries and a slow buildup, this is probably not for you. If you are a purist who objects to writers messing with history (placing Republican Rome in Middle Earth, for instance), this is probably not for you. Some Christians may also object to the portrayal of the Church or to the mixing of Christian theology with mythical and pagan elements. (Well, some did with Tolkien and C.S. Lewis.)

Prior to reading this, I had partly read only some of Vox Day’s comics, so was not expecting much but I was pleasantly surprised. The writer is clearly knowledgeable in Roman military and political history, in battle strategy, in Latin, French and some Scandinavian language and myths (Icelandic? Norse?). I read this immediately after reading Neal Stephenson’s “The Diamond Age” and found some of the dialogue rather similar in style: formal and with a Victorian sensibility. But like Stephenson, Vox Day also does soldiers’ banter and also a convincing interlanguage of an Icelandic (or it Viking?) girl learning to speak English. Remarkable for what I thought was a novice writer.

The moral dilemmas are tough, in some cases brutal, with different possibilities and their consequences considered in detail. In one case, for example, a military commander must decide what to do with a walled town that murdered 12 of his men taken as hostages: does he sack the town (which will take time he does not have and cost him more of his soldiers’ lives), slaughter innocent peasants living in the environs (which conflicts with his Christian ethics) or ignore the injustice and risk a mutiny?

I have a minor quibble with the style which is sometimes overly wordy, revealing a nerdish attention to detail; “over the cobblestones of the street”, are the last three words really necessary? And “he kissed Romilia twice, once on each cheek” could be more succinctly expressed as “he kissed Romilia on each cheek.” In several other places there was an unfortunate and unintended alliteration or assonance: “terrified Tera”, “ready already” and “his sword was of the sort that...”, which sound awkward to the ear and which should have been caught by the editor.

The novel ends satisfactorily but leaves several threads untied which hopefully will be picked up in the sequel, “Sea of Skulls”.

Overall, a complex and highly satisfying yarn told with knowledge and intelligence and style by a writer who clearly loves history, literature and philosophy.

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Reading Progress

January 1, 2020 – Started Reading
February 12, 2020 – Shelved
February 14, 2020 –
February 17, 2020 – Finished Reading

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