Of Bone and Thunder, by Chris Evans

21412311After reading so much historical fiction, it felt strange to dip back into the realm of fantasy. Instead of Victorian or post-war manners, I got dragons. Instead of lengthy descriptions of architecture or clothing, there were descriptions of magic systems and non-human sentient species. On top of all that, Chris Evan’s Of Bone and Thunder doesn’t sound—at first blush—like a book that would attract my attention. Still, how can you pass up a book that was billed as Vietnam with dragons?

Whatever universe you’re in, war is hell. For the various narrators of Of Bone and Thunder (the grunt, the spy, and the flyer), the war against the Forest Collective is a disaster. No one really knows what they’re fighting for. The enemy are everywhere. The landscape is a horror of jungle and heat. Even after the king who ordered the war dies, they fight on because no one in command is willing to admit defeat.

Of Bone and Thunder is divided into three parts. In the first, we get the lay of the land like a new soldier. In the second, things get worse for everyone. In the third, things really go to hell as the Forest Collective goes all out against the invaders. Evans somehow manages to raise your sympathy for the narrators, but not for the war they’re fighting. As I read, I worried that Jawm and Vorley and Carny might not make it to the end of the page—but I wasn’t rooting for them to win the war.

The advertising for this book was entirely accurate. There are many events and character types that are direct analogs for things that happened during the Vietnam War. I was a little bothered that I could see them so easily at first. The analogs struck me as cliché. But after a few chapters, I was interested to see what Evans was doing with the familiar events and characters by porting them into his fantasy world. While it’s not entirely original, Of Bone and Thunder is far from cliché. If you like military history or war novels and you like fantasy, this book will be perfect for you.

I received a free copy of this ebook from NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review. It will be released 14 October 2014.

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