The fantastical battlefield comes to life in Of Bone and Thunder. Chris Evans brings to life a world where injustice and dragons are spoken of in the same sentence. Mix fantasy with a realistically miserable landscape and it reads like a W.E.B Griffin novel.
Of Bone and Thunder is the story of Thaum Jawn Rathim, whose idealized view of the war clashes with its harsh realities and his realization that victory may cost him everything…of conscripted soldier Carny, awash in a hallucinogenic haze of fear and anger…of Breeze, the red-haired graduate from the Royal Academy of Thaumology, certain she can transform the very nature of warfare—if only she can win the trust of the man holding her fate in his hands…and of Ugen Listowk, a veteran crossbowman who finds solace in the darkest shadows of the jungle and whose greatest fear is failing the men he leads into battle.
Plunging deep into the heart of a moral and mortal darkness, these reluctant soldiers struggle for survival and for meaning amid a blazing drama of blood and magic. They will duel a ghostly enemy, fight to understand their roles in a sprawling maelstrom, and ultimately wage the war their way—not for glory or the Kingdom, but for one another.
There are many highs and lows in Of Bone and Thunder. Unfortunately, most of the best aspects are in the first third of the book, leaving the rest to go downhill. The biggest success is that Evans has readers asking the same questions as the characters. The most poignant of these is whether or not the all-encompassing war is worth the effort.
The characters are decent, if somewhat jumbled together. There are instances where whole groups of people are named and killed before the reader finds one identifying feature of anyone in that group. This is unfortunate given that much is said about each loss, leaving me wondering how a reader can mourn a character they never knew. The main character Jawn is a bit boring and never really caught my interest. For me, the most interesting character was Vroly, a sexist dragon flyer who has to get over himself to partner with a female mage. The dynamic between the two of them is a bit push and pull/ new school vs old school but makes for some interesting conversations.
There are some beautiful details at the beginning of the novel such as tattoos that show a mage’s training and the eagerness of those who don’t quite understand the impact of war. I can’t stress enough how it starts to fall apart about halfway through. First and foremost, so many different groups of people are introduced that we can never tell whose job is what. Then the whole plot becomes convoluted and one starts to realize that there really wasn’t much of a plot to begin with. The first few chapters are beautifully written and only left me wondering why the rest of the book becomes so jumbled.
Ultimately, the differences in quality left me just feeling like Of Bone and Thunder was a bit too long for what it was and lacked focus. Fans of action packed novels will miss much in the way of action; the story is mostly dialogue of people at war rather than their actions. This made it become a story that was simply ok and one I can neither recommend nor tell readers to stay clear from.