A review by debchan
The Bone Ships by RJ Barker


The Bone Ships is a book about legends and the men and women who are drawn to something greater than themselves.

This was such an expertly and well-written book. The worldbuilding was fascinating and intricate. Barker left no detail behind and wove in the language with ease and tact that left me breathless and wanting more. Each instance of jargon and specific insight was so different from our world. For example, the sun is called Skearith's Eye. It was refreshing to see this, unlike most fantasy books that take for granted that the sun is called the sun.

Joron Twiner is the main character and his character journey was spellbinding. He was a boy without a father, the man condemned to the blackships. And through it all, Joron learns how to be a better person. He is someone who learns from his mistakes and shines even brighter for it.

When Joron is challenged to a duel by Lucky Meas Gilbryn, one of the most important women in the Hundred Isles, he is brought along into a journey that he never thought possible. Joron becomes the second-in-command to Meas on the Tide Child, his former ship. As Meas said, it is a weak name for a weak ship. But with her guidance, with her fierce command, her unflinching resolve, and her unfailing loyalty, she makes the Tide Child worthy of a legend that will carry forth to be told through generations and generations.

I never thought I would be interested in ships, but the way Barker writes, draws you in until you cannot help but keep reading. It is a book about a legend and the men and women who were in it, the nations that fought so hard to protect its people, and the people who destroyed it. It was a slight commentary on the societal differences between those who grasp and hold onto power and those who will never even gain a fistful of it, but grasp at any chance to progress into the ranks of those who will always be more powerful than them. Even those with power - the Kept - struggled and worked so hard to always be in favor of the Bern, the women who controlled the Hundred Isles.

I would recommend this book for anyone who enjoys high fantasy and anyone who is willing to be fully immersed in a beautiful world. I would compare this to [b:The Ruin of Kings|39863237|The Ruin of Kings (A Chorus of Dragons #1)|Jenn Lyons|https://i.gr-assets.com/images/S/compressed.photo.goodreads.com/books/1530209192l/39863237._SY75_.jpg|61659494] by Jenn Lyons in terms of complexity of worldbuilding. While this is not Young Adult fantasy, it is still quite similar to [b:The Merciful Crow|36483378|The Merciful Crow (The Merciful Crow, #1)|Margaret Owen|https://i.gr-assets.com/images/S/compressed.photo.goodreads.com/books/1541789805l/36483378._SX50_.jpg|58194201] by Margaret Owens, by character development and intricacies. For the overall feel of epics and legends, I would recommend it for those who liked [b:The Shadow of What Was Lost|22878967|The Shadow of What Was Lost (The Licanius Trilogy, #1)|James Islington|https://i.gr-assets.com/images/S/compressed.photo.goodreads.com/books/1507308087l/22878967._SY75_.jpg|42428433] by James Islington.

The Bone Ships draws you in and places you in the world of the Hundred Isles, in a land where the sea rules the land, and where might makes right. Also, there are dragons!