Call of the Bone Ships – RJ Barker

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Dragons have returned to the Hundred Isles. But their return heralds only war and destruction. When a horde of dying slaves are discovered in the bowels of a ship, Shipwife Meas and the crew of the Tide Child find themselves drawn into a vicious plot that will leave them questioning their loyalties and fighting for their lives

Call of the Bone Ships is the follow-up to RJ Barker’s excellent The Bone Ships. We’re back once again on the high seas following the adventures of Joron Twiner, Lucky Meas and their ship, The Tide Child.

There’s less world-building setup this time round as you’d expect from the second book in a trilogy, so we’re straight into the action. The crew of The Tide Child come across a ship with a cargo of dying slaves, a gruesome discovery that will set Meas and Twiner on a mission which will pit them against the fleet of the Hundred Isles.

Barker’s writing is, as ever, a delight to immerse oneself in. He clearly has a love of nautical adventures, and you can almost feel the sea spray on your face and the deck sway beneath your feet as you read. I won’t spoil too much (or indeed anything) about the plot, but there’s action, adventure, derring-do and danger at every turn.

There’s one sequence towards the end of the book which had me on the edge of my seat, and I only realised afterwards that I had been tensed up from being so much part of the action. Not many authors can do that to me, to lose me so completely in the scene that you emerge blinking from the other side.

And we get to find out a little more about the mysterious gullaime, the bird-like creatures who can summon the wind to power your ship. They’re a brilliant invention and a key part of Barker’s world, and I loved finding out a bit more about them.

Look, it’s a fabulous book. If you’ve read the first, then you know what you’re letting yourself in for (or at least you think you do…) and you’ll need no encouragement from me to read this. If you haven’t read The Bone Ships, then what are you waiting for? Get thee to a bookshop, pronto.

Highly recommended. And book 3 can’t come quickly enough.

Call of the Bone Ships by RJ Barker is published by Orbit Books and is out now. Many thanks as ever to Nazia Khatun at Orbit for the advance copy for review.

Author: dave

Book reviewer, occasional writer, photographer, coffee-lover, cyclist, spoon carver and stationery geek.

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