Call of the Bone Ships, RJ Barker – Book Review

Hello Humans! Welcome back to another review along the lines of ‘could this sequel possibly live up to the first book?’ I read and adored The Bone Ships back in 2019 and a year on was still thinking about it ALL THE TIME. So you can imagine how excited I was to get to read book two…

Goodreads Summary:

A brilliantly imagined saga of honour, glory and warfare, Call of the Bone Ships is the captivating epic fantasy sequel to RJ Barker’s The Bone Ships.

Dragons have returned to the Hundred Isles. But their return heralds only war and destruction. When a horde of dying slaves are discovered in the bowels of a ship, Shipwife Meas and the crew of the Tide Child find themselves drawn into a vicious plot that will leave them questioning their loyalties and fighting for their lives.

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First things first – is a reread necessary? I personally went back and reread The Bone Ships because I knew I needed a refresh – I think you would get enough of a sense of what’s going on if you just leaped into book two – but there is a lot of specialised terminology in this world and you might need to rely heavily on the glossary at the back. So re-read if you can and if not just expect a little bit of a tougher time getting into it.

Those expecting book two to pick up right where The Bone Ships left off – well that’s not what you’re going to get. Some time has passed between the two books and honestly this story goes to places I genuinely don’t think you’ll be expecting. I say that as someone who has a fair knack for predicting the endings of books before they happen – the path this book takes is neither straight nor narrow. Be prepared for an adventure. I won’t go into any real detail because it’s book two after all but suffice to say IT LIVES UP TO BOOK ONE.

The setting continues to be phenomenal. I mentioned specialised terminology – it’s there because Barker has really created a world with such specific religious ideas and rules that it needs a whole other set of jargon to talk about it. In this book that is particularly interesting as we see more of a clash of ideas and you see how deep set some of the prejudices and ideologies these characters hold are. If you’re looking for rich detailed world building this is a great series to go for!

While the book is still primarily focused on Joron one of the things that I absolutely loved was that we got to know some of the side characters even better in this book. Don’t get me wrong, seeing Joron’s development across the book – especially if you’re reading straight on from the end of book one – is truly impressive and he’s a remarkably likeable character. But it’s the side characters that truly made this book for me. I will forever love Gullaime – so much, Meas is an inspiration and on top of that there are oodles of other characters with whom one can fall in love in this story. This book even more than the last really had the sense of a crew and all the difficult dynamics that has. There’s found family in there but also that thread of ‘what is it to be responsible for a ship and for its crew’ which is profoundly great.

That being said, beware, for this book might just wreck you – pun intended. There were moments so emotional that I woke up my wife because I was so upset for these characters. I may have neglected to mention that I ended up staying up until a ludicrous hour reading this book because I needed to know what happened. Yeah, maybe read in the spare room if reading at night. I personally love a book that can make me feel things and this book does it masterfully well. The only other story I’ve experienced that with this year was Empire of Gold and I do not make comparisons to Daevabad lightly.

Put simply, this book is exceptional. This series is wondrous. I cannot recommend it highly enough. I absolutely cannot wait to hear what happens next and for my heart to be ripped apart yet again. It’s phenomenal. Go read it now.

My rating: 5/5 stars

I received a free digital review copy of this book from the publisher. All opinions are my own.

Call of the Bone Ships is out November 26th!

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What say you? Will you be reading this? Say yes in the comments below!


One thought on “Call of the Bone Ships, RJ Barker – Book Review

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  1. Yes!! I am in the middle of this right now and I can barely tear my eyes away. I’m absolutely loving ALL the characters. It’s rare to find a book where each character is so well developed, even with only a sentence or two. He’s a truly gifted writer😁

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