REVIEW: The Bone Ships by R.J. Baker

As winner of the 2020 British Fantasy award, The Bone Ships charts the course as captain of modern-day seafaring warfare. This first installment of the Tide Child trilogy starts within an endless war, fought with boneships built from ancient dragons. Rumors of dragon sightings whirl the nations of the Hundred Isles into turmoil. A new dragon hunt begins. R.J. Baker makes waves with his richly detailed world in The Bone Ships.

The Bone Ships The Bone Ships is told from the perspective of Joron Twiner. As shipwife to a black ship, Joron’s fate is the exact same as his criminal crew-death. Sentenced to serve on a black ship where every mission is suicide, his only hope to earn his life back is to accomplish a truly grand heroic act. An act such as capturing the first sighted live dragon, an arakeesian, in centuries.

New boneships cannot be built without the bones of an arakeesian. With only recycled parts available, the number of boneships are dwindling and becoming smaller. These boneships turn the tide of battle. They are paramount for the coming war. All will hunt the last live arakeesian.

Joron’s enemies number greatly between rivaling Guant Islands to other black ships. Fearsome monsters of the deep are all too known for attacking ships. However, his deadliest foe is aboard his ship. The people of Hundred Isles see the world through anger. Life on rock and sand is difficult, even worse is life on the sea. The crew of the Tide Child are ruthless and have scheming minds. Shipwife in name only, Joron’s command lacks respect among his hardened crew.

While danger is consistently lurking, The Bone Ships features rich worldbuilding. I loved discovering the horrors of the corpselights and the awful beakwyrm creatures. Life aboard a ship is especially emphasized. From learning the drills of spinning and loading the bows, and the superstitions surrounding the windtalkers, the first half of The Bone Ships ensures the reader will learn fleet life.

One character is the embodiment of fleet, as if born to the sea. Lucky Meas Gilbryn steals the page with her seafaring knowledge and attitude. While we are not privy to her point of view, understanding her through Joron’s perspective is like watching a legend begin.

She was a storm, a fury, like the Mother had come among them to wreck her havoc and demand her justice.

Joron Twiner embarks on a nautical journey for the ages. By cannon fire or sea dragon, his ship sails towards death. The Bone Ships answers the call for any reader seeking fantasy seafaring adventure.

Read The Bone Ships by R.J. Baker

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Carrie Chi Lough

Carrie Chi Lough

Carrie resides in Colorado with her other half and their puppy, Irwin. She is always searching for dark SFF and horror.