Every week has been intense this year, but I’d been looking forward to reading “Bones of the Earth” by Scott Bury for a long time, having heard a lot of good things about it. Finally I found the time, and what a fine book it is! By the way, I noticed it’s on sale for 99 cents for your kindle on Amazon right now, so go and grab it today! Here’s my review:
“Bones” is one of those books that transport you to another place and time — I love that. I devoured “The Mammoth Hunters” by Jean Auel, and when I started reading “Bones of the Earth” by Scott Bury I suddenly, happily found myself back in a world long before modern times, when the tools were rudimentary, and people lived in a close and intense and often dangerous relationship to the Earth. Set in the 6th century C.E., “Bones” is the story of a young warrior, Javor, living in the Carpathian Mountains, round about where Ukraine, Romania and Hungary share borders.
Rather than sweeping generalities, the hard-scrabble existence of these people is described in exquisite detail, their huts, their food, their weapons, their superstitions. The book begins with a fertility ceremony in which the young (fertile) members of the tribe are brought together to get going on the mating process. But in this book, scenes of haunting beauty are quickly replaced by violent pillaging at the hands of brutal raiders.
Unheeding the pleas of the villagers, the raiders lash out and kill indiscriminately, and take two of the young women with them. Javor and his friend set out to try and rescue the women. Their triumphant return from this impossible mission hints at Javor’s magnificent potential, as well as the supernatural danger that lurks in the deep forest, and foreshadows some of the themes of the book.
Rather than take you through the many twists and turns of the plot of “Bones” I would like to simply tell you what is magical about this book. Javor is an immensely likeable hero, flawed, unique, strong, courageous. Photius the mystic, an older man, Javor’s mentor, is a fascinating character study and full of surprises himself.
Danisa, the young woman they rescue along their travels in dangerous, dragon-infested parts, provides a female foil to keep Javor in a perpetual state of longing and existential confusion. The dynamics between these three main characters are constantly shifting, and perfectly intertwined with developments in the plot. The characters are three-dimensional, and sparks fly in their dialogue.
Another strength of the book lies in the monsters. The dragons play a key role on “Bones,” but these dragons were continually surprising me. Anyone who loved “Eragon” and the two sequels will revel in the discovery of the lesser known “Bones of the Earth,” which is a superior read. And there are other monsters, here, many other monsters … truly those were dangerous times Javor lived in.
All the way through the book, unexpected things kept happening, and by the conclusion of it I was so immersed in Javor’s world, I almost couldn’t stand for it to end. The perfect summer reading escape, whether for adults or teens, a richly drawn portrait of 6th century customs and traditions, a rip-roaring series of attacks and carnage and brutality, tasteful yet bone-cracking real, “Bones of the Earth” is a unique sensation. I urge the author to finish the sequel. This story MUST go on. I believe it was foretold …
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Scott Bury is a journalist, editor and writer living in Ottawa. His articles have been published in newspapers and magazines in Canada, the US, UK and Australia.
His first published fiction was “Sam, the Strawb Part,” a children’s adventure story. It can be purchased from Amazon.com. All royalties from sales of this story go to Children at Risk, an Ottawa-based charity that supports families of children with autism spectrum disorders.
The Bones of the Earth is his first novel to be published.
He has two sons, an orange cat and a loving wife who puts up with a lot. You can read more of Scott’s writing at scottswrittenwords.blogspot.com and scottstravelblog.wordpress.com, and on his website, http://www.writtenwords.ca.
Follow him on Twitter @ScottTheWriter.
A resident of Switzerland, Fred has worked as a teacher, language school manager and school owner. He has three boys and two cats and recently had to learn how to operate both washing machine and dryer. He makes frequent trips back to his native Chicago.
When not writing or doing the washing, Fred can be found walking along the banks of the Rhine River, sitting in a local cafe, or visiting all the local pubs in search of his lost umbrella.