Of Bone and Thunder

Of Bone and Thunder

by Chris Evans


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Now in mass-market paperback—Apocalypse Now meets The Lord of the Rings in a bold new fantasy from the acclaimed author of the Iron Elves trilogy, filled with “heroic action that keeps fans coming back” (Publishers Weekly).

A land of thick jungle and mist-swirled mountains. An enemy moving unseen beneath the lush canopy. The growing threat of thaumics—a magic wielded by few that threatens to destabilize all. The youth of a kingdom sent to fight in a faraway hell while back home, discord and disillusionment reign…

Fantasy author Chris Evans masterfully pushes the boundaries of the genre in his brilliant, groundbreaking new epic, a unique and penetrating vision channeling the cultural upheaval, racial animus, and wholesale destruction of the Vietnam War. Plunging deep into the heart of a moral and mortal darkness, reluctant soldiers in the distant nation of Luitox struggle for survival and for meaning amid a blazing drama of blood and magic. They will duel a ghostly enemy, fight to understand their roles in a sprawling maelstrom, and ultimately wage war their way—not for glory or the Kingdom, but for one another.

“Chris Evans places the broad sword-and-sorcery archetypes squarely in a new and exciting environment” (New York Times bestselling author R. A. Salvatore).

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781451679311
Publisher: Gallery Books
Publication date: 10/14/2014
Pages: 496
Product dimensions: 6.20(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.40(d)

About the Author

Chris Evans is also the author of the Iron Elves saga: A Darkness Forged in Fire, The Light of Burning Shadows, and Ashes of a Black Frost, as well as Of Bond and Thunder, and the nonfiction book Bloody Jungle: The War in Vietnam. He is a military historian and former editor for Random House and Stackpole Books. Born in Canada, he lives in New York City.

Reading Group Guide

This reading group guide for Of Bone and Thunder includes an introduction, discussion questions, and ideas for enhancing your book club. The suggested questions are intended to help your reading group find new and interesting angles and topics for your discussion. We hope that these ideas will enrich your conversation and increase your enjoyment of the book.


In his newest novel, Chris Evans rewrites the Vietnam War, using a fantasy setting to explore racial, political, and gender conflicts as well as war itself.

The Kingdom has responded to insurrection in Western Luitox with a full-scale assault against the rebel Forest Collective. Of Bone and Thunder chronicles the war through the experiences of several soldiers as they fight an increasingly unwinnable war. For thaum Jawn Rathim, the war not only brings him face to face with his own personal limitations but with the truth about his country. Crossbowman Carny Qillibrin must choose between looking out for himself and becoming part of a larger community. Sky Horse Leader Vorly Astol finds his world turned upside down by the arrival of new magical techniques as well as strange new collaborators. As the war continues without end in sight and unrest stirs at home, each character struggles to find his place in the strange world of combat, conflict, and shifting loyalties.

Topics & Questions for Discussion

1. Chris Evans dedicated Of Bone and Thunder to Vietnam War veterans. How important is your knowledge and understanding of the Vietnam War to your reading of this novel?

2. Discuss the ways in which the author uses different races (humans, dwarves, and slyts) to parallel the racial politics of the Vietnam War. How do they match up? What do these parallels highlight and what do they obscure?

3. At the beginning of the novel Jawn Rathim thinks, It’s what men did, what they always did. They went to war because there was one. There was no better way to prove to yourself and everyone around you what you were made of. (p. 17). Do you think that he still believes this by the end of the book?

4. One of Jawn’s first experiences with the slyts is the mass suicide protest organized by the peasantry. What does it teach him about the conflict, and how does that knowledge shape the rest of his combat experience?

5. How is the experience of war itself changed or complemented by the addition of magic and the supernatural?

6. There are few female characters in Of Bone and Thunder; the most notable is RAT Grunila “Breeze” Niorsmith. How do the challenges she faces in her work illustrate the status of women in the Kingdom?

7. How do the political upheavals in the Kingdom affect the soldiers’ realities in Luitox? In what ways do the Kingdom’s politics mirror American politics during the Vietnam War?

8. Which perspectives and characters did you find the most compelling? Which the least?

9. Morality is fluid for the characters: killing noncombatants, disputes with other races on their own side, and recreational use of drugs are all addressed and, in some cases, dismissed by the soldiers as inevitable. Discuss the ways in which combat changes the characters’ perspectives on ethical and moral behavior.

10. Consider the parallel journeys of thaum Jawn Rathim and Crossbowman Carny Qillibrin. Both rise to take on new responsibilities, but only after dramatic failures. How much of their failures and successes are due to their personalities, as opposed to their different positions?

11. What note does the book end on? What do you see coming next for the characters? Is the ending satisfying?

12. How does Of Bone and Thunder compare to other fantasy and/or military novels you’ve read?

13. Have you read other novels by Chris Evans? If so, how does this one compare? If not, does Of Bone and Thunder make you want to read more by this author?

14. Does Evans appear to have an agenda in writing this book? What do you believe he hopes to accomplish with Of Bone and Thunder?

Enhance Your Book Club

1. Interested in similar reading? For further reading about war: Matterhorn, Karl Marlantes; Redeployment, Phil Klay; Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk, Ben Fountain; Catch-22, Joseph Heller. Other military fantasies: His Majesty’s Dragon, Naomi Novik; the Codex Alera series, Jim Butcher; the Shadow Ops series, Myke Cole.

2. Fantasy worlds have evolved significantly in moral complexity from The Lord of the Rings and Narnia to present-day series like A Song of Ice and Fire. In many cases, good and evil are no longer clearly defined. Place Of Bone and Thunder and your own favorite books or series along the spectrum, from “well-defined” to “chaotic,” and discuss your reading preferences.

3. Divide the book club members into groups based on Of Bone and Thunder: thaums, dwarves, enemy slyts, cooperative slyts, dragon riders, foot soldiers, press. Draw your group assignment at random from a bowl or hat. Reconsider the book from the viewpoint of your new affiliation; how does it change your perspective, if at all?

Customer Reviews

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Of Bone and Thunder 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The story was very reminiscent of Vietnam for the US. The characters were very likeable really created an excellent world.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Magic mixed with fantasy, spirits, bodies into a War and in War no one wins! Interesting fast-paced book maybe just a tad too long! The book was well written – was confusing at first but once you got into it very good reading!
ToManyBooksNotEnoughTime More than 1 year ago
Interesting POVs on War in a Famtasy Setting I would like to thank Galley Books & NetGalley for granting me a copy of this e-ARC to read in exchange for an honest review. Though I received this e-book for free that in no way impacts my review. Goodreads Blurb: "Apocalypse Now meets The Lord of the Rings in a bold new fantasy from the acclaimed author of the Iron Elves trilogy, filled with "heroic action that keeps fans coming back" (Publishers Weekly). Channeling the turbulent period of the Vietnam War and its ruthless pitting of ideologies, cultures, generations, and races against each other, military historian and acclaimed fantasy writer Chris Evans takes a daring new approach to the traditional world of sword and sorcery by thrusting it into a maelstrom of racial animus, drug use, rebellion, and a growing war that seems at once unwinnable and with no end in sight. In this thrilling epic, right and wrong, country and honor, freedom and sacrifice are all put to the ultimate test in the heart of a dark, bloody, otherworldly jungle. In this strange, new world deep among the shadows under a triple-canopy jungle and plagued by dangers real and imagined, soldiers strive to fulfill a mission they don’t understand and are ill-equipped to carry out. And high above them, the heavy rush of wings slashing through the humid air herald a coming wave of death and destruction, and just possibly, salvation." This book was a slow starter for me, with too many characters being introduced only to disappear within a few pages. Luckily things began to turn around about a quarter of the way in, or maybe just a bit further. Once the bulk of the characters had been set up and were on the stage we actually began to get to know them, allowing for attachments - both positive and negative, and some few that remained a mystery all the way to the very end, and possibly beyond. The land was a character as well, eliciting strong emotions from those there on behalf of the Kingdom, plus an understood emotion on behalf of the native peoples. In its own way it acted as a metaphor for the story, with a variety of different properties that reflected each of the players, including the power players that remained safely at home and out of sight. Across this diverse landscape a horrible game of political maneuvering was played out, with little, if any, regard for the individual lives being spent as the coin of the realm. Watching the development and progression of several key players was intensely fascinating. Some of their stories were surprisingly uplifting, while others were a train wreck from which you couldn't look away. Lest you think that what you see is what you get, there were numerous surprises sprinkled throughout the characters, keeping things interesting even though the book is mired in the harsh daily realities of an unsustainable war. A war being fought for all the wrong reasons (are there ever any right reasons?), yet was continued long past the time when it was known to be un-winnable. Evans created a gripping conclusion that left me reeling, and gave me a glimpse of what war is really like. There is no real rhyme nor reason to who survives and who dies. It doesn't matter how well you fight, or how devoted you are to the cause; when your ticket gets punched how you lived your life and how you fought have no bearing. It all comes down to dumb luck. War doesn't care about anyone or anything. It isn't a means to a end, though some seem to think otherwise. It is simply an end. Period.
FeatheredQuillBookReviews More than 1 year ago
In the midst of a devastating war set in a thick jungle, with suffocating humidity, and mist covered mountains, an unseen evil is taking shape that threatens to disable an entire army. Author Chris Evans weaves together the lives of many people who find themselves in this war fighting to stay alive. There are some who see the war as a chance to achieve glory and honor - they long to be like the war heroes they hear about in stories. One such individual is Thaum Jawn Ratium. However, as the harsh realities of war hit him square in the face Jawn begins to realize that the most important thing is not to achieve glory but to find what you can do to keep the people you care about safe. On the other end of the spectrum, right there on the front lines is a soldier named Carny who, even though he knows his role in this war, continually questions the reason for the fighting. Then battling from the air on the back of a rag, the giant winged beasts that resemble dragons, a man named Vorly Astol leads a group of riders through the perilous fighting in the sky. For years it had just been Vorly and his rag Carduus but now he finds himself forced to make a relationship with a recent graduate from the Royal Academy of Thaumology named Breeze. It has become clear that Thaumatics is here to stay and even though Vorly does not like the change he can see the advantage of being able to communicate with every other rider as they are flying over the battlefield. Each of these individuals posses different skills and different reasons for being there, but they all will realize that the reason to fight is not glory but rather the person standing next to them. The twists and turns and interweaving of the characters in this story was truly amazing and I applaud Chris Evans for bringing such a story to life in such an appealing way. It is fantastic when a book continues to reveal the small details that connect different characters and how that transforms the story from one chapter to the other. That is exactly what Chris Evans did and as soon as I got started on this book it was extremely difficult to put it down until I reached the end. As the relationships were built in this story it was fun as a reader to see the characters who at one time seemed to have such a hard shell show a softer side as they slowly revealed how they felt about the people they had around them and the importance of their safety and well being. One of the best relationships in the book for me was the one between Vorly and his rag Carduus. Vorly did not see Carduus as just a beast but as his partner, a partner he respected. From beginning to end I enjoyed every chapter of this book as it took me on a wonderful roller coaster ride that can only come from a great adventure-fantasy book. Quill says: An unbelievable book that brings to life an absolutely thrilling fantasy story.