Karn Korlundsson is a gamer. Not a riddle solver. But in order to rescue his best friend, Thianna Frostborn, he will need to travel to the faraway city of Castlebriar (by wyvern), learn how to play a new board game called Charioteers (not a problem), decipher the Riddle of the Horn, and tangle with mysterious elves.
Meet Desstra. She’s in training to join the Underhand—the elite agents of the dark elves. When she crosses paths with Karn, she is not all that she appears to be.
Everyone is chasing after the horn of Osius, an ancient artifact with the power to change the world. The lengths to which Karn will go in the name of friendship will be sorely tested. Who knew that solving a riddle could be so deadly?
The novel includes instructions for playing the board game Charioteers. Visit ThronesandBones.com for additional games, maps, character profiles, and more!
Praise for Nightborn
“Anders presents a captivating world.” —Kirkus Reviews
”[A]n adventure story with good pacing, well-drawn characters, and engaging action scenes.” —Booklist
Praise for Frostborn
“Future fans of Tolkien and George R. R. Martin can happily cut their serial-fantasy teeth on this first book of an eventual series.” —Kirkus Reviews
“A fun, fast-paced, and highly enjoyable tale.” —Garth Nix, bestselling author of the Abhorsen trilogy
“A powerful, fast-paced tale. . . . The setting is rich, the characters well-defined, and the danger ever-paramount.” —Publishers Weekly, Starred
“An excellent choice for readers new to the genre. The themes of staying true to oneself, teamwork, and individuality will resonate with readers.” —School Library Journal
“The most delightful fantasy I have read in ages. . . . Put me on the waiting list for book two!” —Amy Plum, international bestselling author of the Die for Me series
About the Author
Lou Anders is the recipient of a Hugo Award for editing and a Chesley Award for art direction. He has published over 500 articles and stories on science fiction and fantasy television and literature. A prolific speaker, Anders regularly attends writing conventions around the country. He and his family reside in Birmingham, Alabama. You can visit Anders online at louanders.com and ThronesandBones.com, on Facebook, and on Twitter at @ThronesandBones.
Read an Excerpt
The outside world was the best kind of terrifying.
Small and quick, Desstra darted from shadow to shadow under the light of the moons. Her teammates crept silently through the trees on either side. She felt exposed in the open air. So vulnerable without tons of rock overhead. But the unfamiliar night sky excited her, and the smell of victory kept her focused. They could win this.
Desstra sensed a pressure against her leg and froze. The trip wire was stretched taut across her shin. An ounce more force and it would snap.
She knelt carefully. She caught the thin wire between thumb and forefinger, holding it still as she moved her leg away. Her gaze followed the line to a bent tree limb. A small cluster of spider egg sacs balanced on the branch. The sacs were the size and shape of rotten fruit. No baby spiders here. They would be filled with poison, acid, gas, or something equally nasty. Breaking the wire would send them hurling her way.
It was a crude trap, hastily constructed. The ones she’d set showed more finesse. Hard to detect, harder to disarm.
“What’s the delay?” growled a voice to her right--Tanthal. Of all the dark elves who lived in the caverns of Deep Shadow, she liked him the absolute least. Couldn’t he see that she had narrowly avoided a trap? Probably saw and didn’t care. Tanthal was always critical of her. He was snide and superior. She hated that they were teammates, even if he was one of the two best students in the school.
Tanthal came up to her, a sneer on his pale face. She indicated the trip wire.
“We are in something of a hurry,” he said.
“How very helpful of you to point out the obvious.”
“If you’re done wasting time here--”
“Don’t get your tips in a twist,” Desstra taunted, but then her own sharp ears twitched. Tanthal noticed and stopped speaking. He was arrogant but far from stupid. The Wyrdwood held worse dangers than rival classmates.
There--a shadow in the tree ahead.
Desstra’s right arm whipped forward even as her left shoved Tanthal aside. He rolled gracefully and came to his feet. Then his lips parted in surprise when he saw the dart buried in the ground where he had stood.
A grunt of pain, then a dark elf dropped heavily out of the foliage. Desstra’s own slender dart gleamed where it stuck in the elf’s neck. He lay facedown.
“Is he--?” Tanthal began.
“Paralysis,” Desstra answered. “Diluted hemlock. He’ll be okay when it wears off in a few hours.”
Tanthal looked as if he might kick the unfortunate elf. She pushed Tanthal aside and rolled her stricken opponent over so he wouldn’t suffocate in the last of the winter snow.
“You’re too soft,” said Tanthal. “Leave him. We have a game to win.”
He stepped over their fallen rival. Desstra gritted her teeth and followed. Tanthal was right on both counts. A stronger poison would have been within the rules. And the stakes were too high not to play to win.
Tonight was the final exam, the culmination of two years of training. The classes had been sent into the Wyrdwood and pitted against each other in a contest that would test all their skills--stealth, sabotage, speed, combat, strategy. And an ability to operate on the surface. Only the winning team would graduate and join the elite members of the Underhand, the secret order that protected the people of Deep Shadow and acted as their eyes and ears in the world above. It was the highest honor, not to be cheaply earned.
Desstra, Tanthal, and a female elf named Velsa were all that remained of their team. They slowed as they approached the enemy camp. Desstra flattened herself against the trunk of a tree and peered through its branches. She saw the black banner where it fluttered atop a spear standing alone in a glade. There was no one around. No one she could see. Guards would be hidden nearby, and the area would be rigged with snares and other hazards.
She caught Tanthal’s eye, then pointed overhead and hoisted herself into the branches. When she was high enough, she climbed slowly out upon a limb. Balancing on her heels, she reached in her satchel for a spool of spider’s silk. The thread was amazingly thin but strong as steel. Her specially treated gloves could handle the web without it sticking to her fingers. She let it spool out, dangling the web level with the banner. The wind caught it and carried it toward her target. When the line brushed the banner, it adhered instantly.
Desstra waited while her teammates readied their weapons. Then she gave a quick jerk on the spider silk, yanking the banner, spear and all, from the ground. She caught it in one hand, then leapt from the tree. Around her, three rival elves broke from cover. Time to run.
Tanthal’s mace collided with one opponent’s skull. The student fell, sprawling, and didn’t move. But another elf was directly in front of Desstra, arms spread wide and wicked stilettos in each hand. His smile told her just how easily he expected to subdue her.
Desstra planted the spear in the snow, using it to vault into the air. As she soared over the surprised elf, she let something fall from her satchel.
The egg sac broke at her opponent’s feet, spattering a sticky fungal paste all over him. The paste swelled rapidly, turning into a nasty yellow foam that would hold him tight until it dissolved.
Desstra allowed herself a moment of pride. The object now was to get the stolen banner back to their own base camp. Her classmate Velsa would run interference for her. Desstra would carry the prize. Tanthal had balked at that--he’d wanted that honor for himself--but she was unquestionably the fastest runner in their class.
Unfortunately, the remaining opponent was almost as fast, and he outdistanced Velsa easily. Desstra skipped aside from his slashing knives. Then Velsa was there, grasping but failing to slow the rival elf. Something whipped through the air between them. Tanthal’s mace. But it didn’t hit anyone. What had he been aiming at?
The trip wire snapped under the force of the projectile. The bent branch hurled its cluster of egg sacs. Enemy and teammate were both showered in an explosion of choking gas. They went down together, clutching their throats and gasping.
It was all Desstra could do not to lob her own egg sac at Tanthal.
“Don’t just stand there after I saved you,” he said, bending to retrieve his mace. “We need to keep moving.”
Desstra hesitated, reaching into her satchel. She might have an antidote for Velsa.
“Leave her,” barked Tanthal. “She’d rather bear the pain now than fail to graduate due to your misplaced kindness.”
Now they were two. They ran on.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Really keeps you wanting more
Nightborn (Thrones & Bones 2) by Lou Anders was a fantastic follow up to its predecessor, Frostborn. We are once again immersed into a world of magic and mythical creatures, and are once again shown the value of true friendship. Where book 1 showed us the growing friendship between Karn and Thianna, Nightborn shows us the value of the friendship that these two characters have. That through thick and thin, and with whatever is on the line, the friendship and loyalty that Karn has for Thianna supersedes everything else. Picking up where Frostburn pretty much left off, the book opens up with Karn learning more about the trade business. But to his surprise, a creature from the past snatches him up (literally) and carries him off to face an “old” friend who has some rather unfortunate news. Karn’s best friend, Thianna, may be in trouble and it has something to do with another Horn of Osius. Karn has no other choice to accept this mission because the fate of his friend is all that he cares about. And it’s during this new adventure that Karn encounters the dark elves. A species not be taken lightly. Trained to move like assassins (silent and deadly), they give Karn a run for his money. And it’s amongst these dark elves that the paths of Karn and Desstra cross. With twists and turns, the fate of these two characters are intertwined, and both find something that they were not expecting. I thoroughly enjoyed both the books in these series, and am positive that young middle grade readers everywhere will get caught up in this action filled adventure. With characters that are easily likeable (or easy to hate), and a storyline that will grip you from the very beginning, there is a little bit of something for everyone! I especially love that characters from the first book made an appearance (a significant appearance at that). It made the story all that more enjoyable for me. What did I love the most about this book? The conversations that Thianna had with the dragons/wyvern/other creatures had me giggling out loud. I found the writing to be witty and addicting. I can’t wait to see what author, Lou Anders, has in store for us in the next installment! Fans of How to Ride Your Dragon and The Balance Keepers series by Lindsay Cummings will be instantly hooked in the Thrones & Bones books!
Synopsis- Karn Korlundsson was quite happy learning to manage his family’s huge farm. So Karn didn’t understand why a wyvern (a small dragon-type thing) had to come out of the sky and kidnapped him from a local trading market. When he gets to the home of Orm, a giant linnorm (a type of dragon), Karn finds out that Thianna Frostborn, his half-giant friend, while on a mission for Orm, got captured by an enemy force. Orm says that she was looking for another Horn of Osius for him. The Horn can control reptiles, like wyverns and lizards, and Orm wanted to destroy them (for the safety of such reptiles listed). Orm now wants Karn to look for it too, but all Karn wants to look for is Thianna. Unfortunately, Karn soon finds out that finding Thianna and the horn isn’t his only problem. What I Thought- This was a great sequel to Frostborn. I like that it still has the great adventurous feel of Book 1. Sometimes you don’t get that in a series – but this carries it off very well. The message in the story about friendship is awesome, and subtle enough so that you don’t realize that you are learning a lesson. Karn is a great character that you really connect with. His friend was kidnapped, and he wants to rescue her – nothing will stop him. But throw in a giant dragon, and a promise too, and you have an adventure! Thianna was a good character, but you would think that her traveling the world would make her more street-wise, and less newbie-like when it comes to things. Her character was still awesome. The story had a lot of twists and turns. It was fun to read. I think that this is an amazing series! *NOTE* I got a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review
The Fun Fantasy Continues! *I received a copy from the publisher for an honest review* This review has slight spoilers in it from book 1 if you have not read it. I want you to be aware! Ahhh, back to the complicated lives of Karn and Thianna! I love it! From Book 1, Frostborn, we met our duo. We had a backstabbing uncle who tried to kill Karn so he could inherit the family farm. He was taken care of by Helltoppr and Karn and his family were okay in the end. We had Thianna, who is a half giant/half human who had women tracking her after she blew a horn that was her mother's. Because of that horn, Karn and Thianna were running for their lives and ran into a dragon, Orm. The dragon and other creatures of the same type, we found out, were controlled with the horn. The goal of the women who were hunting Thianna in the first book was to get the horn so they could still control the creatures. The creatures, however, wanted the horn destroyed. That was done! Come to Book 2, Nightborn, we found out there's a second horn. Yowzas! The dragon, Orm, sent Thianna on a quest to find and destroy the horn. Karn was also recruited after Thianna went missing. As Karn went on his long journey to find his friend, he found more riddles and a new "friend." The new friend, Desstra, was a dark elf that we met in the beginning of Nightborn (hence the title). She had disguised herself as a wood elf to fit into the city they were in. He thought she was a friend trying to help him find Thianna, but she was part of a group of dark elves trying to find the second horn. Thianna and Karn were eventually reunited. She had been held captive by the group of dark elves. The pair were together, but left by the dark elves to be killed. Of course, they escaped! They're an awesome duo! All through their quest to find the horn, they met more people and challenging situations. Their friendship was the top priority. Karn looked for Thianna and didn't hesitate because she was his friend. This book ended with the pair having a third person with them...Desstra! She didn't believe that she had to kill, hurt, or trick people like the other dark elves. She decided to stay with Karn and Thianna. And, they let her stay with them. The adventures and events (chariot fighting, y'all!!!) were amazingly described and I could see the images clearly in my head. This book was definitely a movie for my brain. Lou Anders is a great fantasy storyteller! I am still thoroughly enjoying this series and I cannot wait for the next book! Again, if you enjoy middle grade, fantasy, adventure, or friendship, this is a book and series for you.