Genre: Fantasy — Sword and Sorcery
Series: The Book of the Black Earth #3
Publisher: Pyr (February 27, 2018)
Length: 515 pages
My Rating: 4.5 stars
Blade and Bone is a violent, jarring, adrenaline rush of a story which generates near constant action and excitement. I’m almost ashamed to admit I had to take it with me to work and hide it under the edge of my desk, so I could keep reading. This sword and sorcery tale an exhilarating extravaganza that is totally engrossing.
Picking up the story of Horace and Alyra, Jirom and Emanon, about three to four months after the ending of Storm and Steel, it is immediately apparent that things in the Akeshian Empire have gone to hell. Our first view of the new world shown through the eyes of Lord Pumash of Nisus who witnesses first hand the horrors unleashed by the new Manalish of Erugash and Chiresh, as this conqueror completely destroys Nisus, turning its inhabitants into undead minions; Pumash himself becoming an unwilling servant of a being so powerful death itself is an instrument of his will.
Meanwhile, along the border of Akeshia, Jirom leads the remnants of the rebel forces, determined to find a way to help the people of the land throw off the yoke of their Akeshian overlords. Horace part of the growing band, though he himself feels pulled in another direction by dreams and a longing to undertake a far different task; only his feelings for Alyra keeping him tethered to the group. And though Jirom needs the magic Horace brings to the fighting, even he does not know if his friend’s heart is truly in tune with his own.
Suddenly, though, the guerrilla war of the rebels turns far more deadly, as the undead minions of the Manalish appear. These hordes unstoppable, causing the rebels to flee into the desert. Every moment thereafter one of deadly pursuit where even a moment rest, a second of hesitation, will allow the dead to swarm over them. Horace blaming himself, feeling that his use of magic has drawn their enemies to their hiding places, and so he leaves, trying to draw the pursuit away while following his premonitions of some place he must go to in order to save not just his friends but the entire world.
I have to say Jon Sprunk absolutely delivers with this third volume of The Book of the Black Earth. The author staying true to his greatest strength as a writer: the ability to write compelling, thrilling, and understandable action. The magic, adventure, zombies, fights, emotions, diverse characters all delivered in a blistering pace which never lets you feel safe putting the book down. Blood and Bone truly a tour de force of sword and sorcery spectacle and fun.
Other the aforementioned amazing Sprunk action scenes, what really stood out to me about this narrative was the actual growth of the characters. No, there were not pages of deep contemplation or emotional angst. Instead, the author gave brief flashes of insight into these people. A scene here. A comment there. An emotional choice made. Horace, Alyra, Jirom, and Pumash slowly, meticulously molded into complete people with fears, hopes, desires, sorrows, and needs. Their true personal feelings shining through as they make rapid decisions, take action, and struggle to accomplish goals and live their life in a time of horror and sudden death.
I’d also be remiss if I didn’t give a little love to the magic in this narrative. You could say it goes hand-in-hand with my praise for the overall action, but the use of magic is a little different than the concept for it, and while Sprunk doesn’t recreate a Sanderson magic system, his zoana comes to full fruition here, maturing into a compelling though mysterious force, which is quite an exciting spectacle to read about.
The only criticism I’d level against the book are a few head-scratching decisions by our main characters, especially Horace and Jirom, and a few too many lucky coincidences. Honestly, everyone makes dumb decision at times, but our two comrades do it a few too many times in my opinion. As for the lucky breaks, let’s just say they do add up by the end of the book.
To sum up, I have to state yet again Blood and Bone is a damn fine fantasy tale filled with terrifying events, a bit of gore, loads of action (both sword and sorcery), and characters which really hit their stride. And the ending . . . well, I’ll just say I can’t wait to see what Sprunk has in store for the next book.
I received this book from the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review. I’d like to thank them for allowing me to receive this review copy and inform everyone that the review you have read is my opinion alone.