REVIEW: The Bones of the Old Ones by Howard Andrew Jones
BRIEF SYNOPSIS: Dabir and Asim find themselves battling dark sorcery again, but this time, the stakes are much bigger than one city.
PROS: A fast-paced, intriguing tale with engaging characters.
CONS: While it is a stand-alone novel, it is much more enjoyable if the first has been read.
BOTTOM LINE: I only hope we’ll see many more like this, and that Sword and Sorcery’s new face is here to stay.
Barely recovered from their adventures in The Desert of Souls, Dabir and Asim have settled into their new home in Mosul. All seems well, until the stable-boy, Rami, finds a Persian noblewoman lost and in danger on the streets and brings her to his masters for help. Najya’s tale of murder, kidnapping and dark sorcery is enough to convince the pair to take her to the caliph. A man claiming to be her father, the man Najya claims kidnapped her, attempts to stop them, and Dabir discovers that the situation is worse than even Najya dreamed.
An ancient evil has been summoned back into the world, a spirit of winter who wants to open the gates to its land and unleash a new Ice Age. Dabir, Asim and Najya find themselves in the middle of a supernatural war between the spirit and a cabal of ancient sorcerers with names straight out of legend: Enkidu, Lamashtu, Erragal. Hopelessly outmatched, their only chance is to find four weapons carved from the bones of a Titan, but to do so, they must trust the sorceress who cost them so much in the Desert of Souls. And Najya may not be quite what she seems.
Faced with animated wooden warriors, brutal weather, prehistoric beasts and spirits, and doomsday cults, the humans race to save the world from endless winter.
The Bones of the Old Ones (now available for pre-order) is a fast-paced, rich tale melding Middle Eastern and Greek mythology, horror, romance and heroism. Jones doesn’t shy away from showing the horror of war and treachery, and the bodies stack up quickly and often gruesomely. His world is worth spending a great deal of time in, seamlessly blending the real and the fantastic. The setting is vivid, without being patronizing, realistic yet still beautiful, and men and women alike are complex and changeable.
Jones is a skilled storyteller, with clean, strong prose and a good eye for pacing. This book is not easy to put down. He is also sensitive to the culture and history behind his fantasy, and has done his research. (Be sure to read the afterword, it’s got all sorts of juicy tidbits.)
Desert of Souls was an excellent introduction to Dabir and Asim, but The Bones of the Old Ones is a damn good tale that not only pays homage to the masters, but sets its own print on the genre. I only hope we’ll see many more like this, and that Sword and Sorcery’s new face is here to stay.
Filed under: Book Review
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