Customer Reviews for

The Bone Palace

Average Rating 4.5
( 16 )
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  • Posted August 29, 2012

    A Gorgeous Landscape of a Novel

    Those of you that know my literary tastes know that they run toward the world-building, intricate culture fantasy side of things. I get sucked into books that paint me a landscape I can breathe in, characters I feel like I know and can see, and intrigue that pulls me along for a thrill ride.

    I can name a dozen authors whose books I will buy, regardless of title or genre, because they consistently do this.

    If you like:
    In-depth culture
    Beautiful descriptions
    Flawed, three-dimensional characters
    Strong female characters
    Necromancy
    Gothic settings and themes
    Horror (the classic kind, not the gore kind)
    Unique cultures and locales
    Place-porn
    Twisted relationships
    Difficult obligations
    Action on all scales
    Mystery, especially murder mystery
    Love, sex, adventure and madness
    And good writing...

    You should definitely read The Bone Palace. And The Drowning City (her first of the series). And probably her third book, and her fourth...

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 30, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Not perfect, but quite possibly great.

    This book has, I think, carved out a little piece of my soul.

    This is partly because it caused me to have an epiphany that, even if it isn't particularly novel, was still needed. But it's mostly because of the characters.

    They aren't Romantic heroes -- they take tumbles down passageways, and they get taken out by ignominous bumps on the head, and afterward they hurt for days or weeks, and that affects their moods and their abilities. Their lives are messy, and Isyllt admits "[I] had never set great store on honor -- it was transitory and subjective, and often directly opposed to practicality." But they live in a deeply Romantic world, where breaking an oath can literally cripple you, and the shadows are definitely filled with monsters. And so they love and they hate, they comfort and they hurt, they live and they die in epic fashion, every event a confluence of secret histories and dark magic and tangled politics.

    They are exactly the sort of cast that should be the norm in fantasy, but is sadly rare: spanning three (human) races and a wider range of cultures, at least three generations, all social classes, quite a few sexual orientations (hetero-, homo-, and bisexual, plus polyamorous), the able-bodied and those with various disabilities, and three genders (male, female, and hijra, which includes androgynes, FTM, and MTF transgenders). Even the non-human race we see a decent amount of (the vampires) reflects this diversity. And while I'm sure that having more women than men as named characters was deliberate and pointed, for the most part this diversity is simply a reflection of how any city (including fantasy cities like Erisín) looks. It gives Downum's city a wonderfully organic feel, because it's clear that every person the viewpoint characters see has a history, a life outside the needs of the narrative.

    And in this novel that wonderful, diverse, non-Romantic cast starts out investigating a couple of mysteries and ends up neck-deep in nefarious machinations against the kingdom -- a plot I always enjoy. The politics are delightfully twisty, and Downum makes it clear that the politics are always personal. There are no characters acting purely out of a lust for power or sheer evilness; all are doing what they think is right, based on the trauma in their past and their conflicting desires. It's not a perfect novel -- some readers will likely want more info about how the magic works, and I found some of the descriptions repetitive -- but right at the moment it feels like a great novel, one I will treasure.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 23, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    fascinating investigative fantasy

    In 499 Ab Urbe Condita in the royal city of Erisin, corpses are not a rare occurrence; but a dead prostitute wearing the ring of deceased queen has no precedent. Police Inspector Khelsea Shar shows the Necromancer Agent of the Crown Isyllt Iskaldur the body of the whore who possessed a regal signet and had no violent marks. Reluctantly Isyllt investigates who magically murdered the woman, and how and why she had the ring. To her chagrin, the case leads to the tombs below the city where the revolting vile vrykoloi vampires reside in lightless lairs.

    Her inquiry spins worse than she imagined even with the vrykoloi involved as Isyllt learns a truth she must conceal from her King. Apparently a dead sorceress plans to return to take the throne; and she has support from Isyllt's former lover Kiril and the Crown Prince Ionais' mistress Sevedra Severos; as well as unknowing dupes.

    Staying at home in her second Necromancer's Chronicles, Isyllt has once again moral selections to make as espionage, politics, insurgency and military merge with magic in a fascinating investigative fantasy. Isyllt is a great protagonist because of her moral fiber as she must select between choices that she abhors. Readers will relish her brisk adventures as home proves as harrowing as her stay in the Drowning City, but worse because it is home.

    Harriet Klausner

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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    Posted March 29, 2012

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