D.M. Dutcher 's Reviews > A Throne of Bones

A Throne of Bones by Vox Day
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Dec 07, 2012

really liked it
bookshelves: fantasy
Read from December 07 to 12, 2012

It's a good if long epic fantasy that was better than I expected. While the edginess doesn't bother me, there might be an issue for some with how thin the Christianity is in the book, considering the publisher. One of the stronger Marcher Lord Press books in terms of craft, though.

The book starts off as the soldiers of one of the legions of Amorr face off against a goblin army. One particularly brash officer challenges a goblin leader to a duel, and while he wins and routs them once the army backs him up, he finds he has a harsh price to pay for it. Meanwhile in the nation proper, intrigue abounds, and builds to the point where the nation itself is in peril. But they are not the only ones in danger: across the sea come refugees fleeing from another monstrous army, and orcs are spotted on the move too. There's a purpose behind all this, and men, elves, and dwarves may have realized it only too late.

It's hard to sum it up since so much goes on in the book. At 800 pages, it's long, and the first MLP hardcover release. The length doesn't feel too tedious though, with only the start of the book dragging a bit. Once it gets past discussing the upcoming goblin fight, it gets much better, as each new character has their own story and part to play.

The world is very interesting too. It's sort of a fusion of Rome and medieval Europe-imagine Rome with its legionnaires and patricians with a church like in Thomist times and Vikings mingling with supernatural creatures like elves and werewolves. The main focus is on Rome though, and it adds a lot to the book by setting it apart from the generic fantasy land it could be. It's not just the gladiators and phalanxes, but he gets the ethos of each nation and group right. You get inside their heads, and it's well done indeed.

I also found that it fixed something that I didn't like about Game of Thrones. One of the issues I had with the first book in that series was that the supernatural and fantasy aspects felt tacked in, as opposed to purely human drama. Vox though always makes the fantasy part noticeable if not prevalent. This isn't just "let's make it fantasy because we really want to tell a historical fiction story and ignore the parts we don't like," but magic and fantasy have as much a part to play as the intricate machinations between nobles. If anything, you wish there was a bit more focus on it. The elves in particular.

There are some issues, but they are minor. One issue is that if you don't like long books, you'll have issues with it. There's no padding though-it's simply long because it tells a grand story with a lot of characters, and if anything I kind of wish even more focus was given to some of them.

There's also the edginess. This is also the first book in the Marcher Lord Hinterlands imprint, which is for works that may contain things that offend some people. Marcher Lord is a Christian Speculative fiction press, so the edginess is more in line with traditional fantasy stylings. It's similar to secular novels. There's a lot of (period accurate) violence, and realistic attitudes towards sex and other things for the time. I didn't mind the edginess as it was in the book. To be honest, given Vox's views as a pundit, I was worried it would be more edgy than it was, in bad ways. But it's restrained and it's in service of the novel. Just don't buy it for your grandmother who likes to read Donita K. Paul.

The last issue is the Christianity. Honestly, it feels very thin in the book, and this easily could have been published as straight up secular fantasy. It's there, but in general it feels more about a Roman morality-a classical paganism-about town, city, and country than a particularly Christian one. This is partly due to that he is focusing on kings, soldiers, and patricians as opposed to plebians and the rest, and their values dominate the book. There is one of the consuls who is a Christian, but he's too captive to events to really show his faith apart from one scene resolved by a deus ex machina. But the ethos in the book felt to me more about martial values than Christian ones. A couple of Christian interjections from other characters feel a bit tacked on, as they didn't show any leanings to faith before hand. It doesn't harm my enjoyment of the book, and considering this book feels like a fantasy spin on the fall of Rome it may be warranted, but it's a head's-up for the more devout.

All in all, it's a good, epic fantasy novel. It was better than I expected. If you like more traditional Christian fantasy fare that is clean and more aggressively spiritual (if not evangelistic) you may not like this. But people who like well-written fantasy and Christians who are okay with more realism and edginess to their books will probably enjoy it quite a bit.
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Reading Progress

12/07/2012 page 100
11.71% "It's a slow start but gets much better as it goes on. The christianity seems thin, but this is a massive book so maybe it will be developed further on later."
12/09/2012 page 600
70.0% "Still pretty good. Vox gets into the mindset of classical pagans well. Christianity though still isn't much a player in the book, since most of this is from the view of eductated pagan statesmen. It earns its edgy badge though."
02/10/2016 marked as: read

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