Call of the Bone Ships by R.J. Barker

Title: Call of the Bone Ships.
SeriesThe Tide Child #2.
Writer(s)R.J. Barker.
Publisher: Orbit.
Format: Paperback.
Release Date: November 24th 2020.
Pages: 528.
Genre(s): Fantasy.
ISBN13:  9780316487993.
My Overall Rating:

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Previously in The Tide Child series:
The Bone Ships by R.J. Barker.


There are stories out there that effortlessly draw you into deeply-imaginative worlds, irresistibly complex and mesmerizing, fiendishly stunning and vivid, wonderfully immersive with its peculiar yet charismatic characters. The writers of these tales put in all of their blood, tears, and sweat to bring this world to life and drag you into an intricate narrative web with no desire to leave it, somehow making you willingly become the prey to devastating twists and turns, putting you through the wringer as you grow attached to the characters, these worlds, and their endeavour. Sometimes that’s all you really want from these stories. With the wonderful success of his Wounded Kingdom trilogy under his belt, writer R.J. Barker continues his seagoing adventure Tide Child trilogy with the sequel to The Bone Ships, Call of the Bone Ships.

What is Call of the Bone Ships about? Still set in the Hundred Isles, Shipwife Meas and her crew of the Tide Child continue their perilous journey to create a haven for the people while a war develops on the horizon between rival nations. Unfortunately for them, their latest discovery isn’t one of the ancient exotic dragons that have returned to roam the seven seas once again but a horde of dying slaves hidden within the bowels of an odd ship. As they uncover the mystery surrounding these vulnerable and starving individuals, the crew is drawn into a terrifying conspiracy that will force them to reevaluate their own existence, their loyalty towards one another but also their willpower to survive their horrid predicament and fight for survival.

“The women and men do not know it yet but they have volunteered to join us. Their shipwife is dead, and as of now so are they. And the dead belong to me.”

— R.J. Barker

It is an understatement in itself to think that writer R.J. Barker put in an enormous amount of research into this trilogy. There is enough to feed a famished sea dragon with the amount of character development, world-building, and seafaring details. Where the first book quickly establishes the many lore elements that propel this story towards danger and triumph as well as presenting a crew that had nothing to lose in the first place, being a vessel for the dead, this one further develops the relationship between these characters, making them fight for the things they believe in while working on the respect they believe they’re due. As their attachment to their naval family grows, their adventure becomes one with greater risks, forcing them to choose between loyalty and survival when the moment finally comes knocking on their doors.

Notwithstanding the inevitable surprises that come with writer R.J. Barker’s glorious imagination, especially in the form of species, wildlife, and setting, he does not make any exception once again to plunge into his understanding of his character’s emotional depth to remind us that Shipwife Meas, Joron, and the crew are human at the core, that they still encompass emotions ranging from fear to joy, and that their journey is bound to lead them deep within themselves to find the answers that will guide them towards safety. His ability to balance the technicalities of navigating on the sea, the continuum of emotional range, and the mysteries deriving from mass “human” trafficking is what makes this another stark display of stellar story-telling. What you have here is an adventure raging forward into themes of trust, loyalty, promises, and honour. What you have here is another excellent book but writer R.J. Barker.

Call of the Bone Ships is a visionary and action-packed sequel embracing navel warfare amidst treacherous sea creatures and where only honour and perseverance will steer these heroes towards glory.

Thank you to Orbit books for sending me a copy for review!




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