“How long have you been able to move potency?”
Pellini exhaled. “Since my senior year in high school.”
“What happened then? Did someone start teaching you?”
He cleared his throat. “Never talked to anyone about this stuff before,” he confessed, then added, “I mean, no people.”
Idris and I both tensed. “What non-people have you talked to about this?” I asked, doing my best to remain outwardly composed.
Pellini licked his lips before speaking. “Shit. I had an imaginary friend when I was little.” A flush darkened his face. “I called him …” He hesitated then took a deep breath and plunged on. “I called him Mr. Sparkly because that’s what he looked like. For as long as I can remember, until I was in second grade, he’d find me when I was in the sandpit in my backyard and take med away.”
“Wait. Away?” I asked. “Where to?” Maybe Mr. Sparkly was just an ordinary creeper?
He chewed his lower lip. “The place I saw him wasn’t like Earth,” he said. “It was like that.” To my shock he gestured toward the nexus. “Energy and colors and light.”
Throughout Nyx’s exile, she didn’t think much about all the men and women she’d beheaded, or the mullahs she’d pissed off, or the mines she’d planted, or the battles she’d lost. She thought about the ring. A bad left hook. Poor footwork. Blood in her eyes. Hornets on the mat. Because everything that happens after you climb out of a boxing ring, one-half of your face ballooning into a waxy blue-black parody of death while you spit bile and blood and some fleshy bit of somebody’s ear on the mat, slowly losing sight in one leaky eye, dragging your shattered, roach-bitten leg behind you … is easy. Routine. Just another day breathing. (p. 2)
Definitely recommended! Freaking amazing trilogy!
My reviews of:
Cover art by David Palumbo
My introduction to John Meaney came through the Nulapeiron series with the book Paradox. I was blown away by the quality of the writing. Then I placed the novel on my shelf and sort of forgot about it (I read a lot). Through my library Bone Song came to my attention. Talk about pleasant reunion with an author. This reminder led to the purchase of the remainder of the Nulapeiron Sequence and the later continuation of Tristopolis with Dark Blood.
John Meaney writes a mean book, a novel that draws me into its lair waiting to be consumed by it. And I was. Bone Song was incredibly difficult to put down. Meaney’s description of Tristopolis is beguiling and dark. Atmosphere and personalities light up like a beacon in my mind.
Considering the title of my blog Bone Song is the perfect first novel to review. In it we find the darker side of humanity described in a manner that shows us the lure of power – power-hunger – power-addiction and the concept that some people are more equal than others.
Bone Song is the first book in the Tristopolis series. Tristopolis is the city of Lieutenant Donal Riordan, the good guy in this plot. It is also a city where the dead are sent to give energy to the generators that keep the city running. Zombies, wraiths and gargoyles are only some the races inhabiting this world along with humans, and Donal manages to interact and make friends with them all.
Bone Song is supposedly a horror book but I’m not sure I agree with that assessment. It’s certainly a dark enough world, but it seems bleak rather than horrifying and creepy.
Donal has been assigned to protect an exceptional opera singer who the authorities suspect is on the hit-list of a mysterious serial killer. The job does not go well. Donal gets drawn into a world of deception and betrayal, a world where he has to find someone hidden by powerful connections.
There is murder and mayhem, but Donal shines like a beacon in this book. He’ll kill and maim if he has to, but he’d prefer it if he didn’t. His opponents (mysterious as they are) are quite different. “The end justifies the means” seems to be their motto. This does seem to be the motto of power-addicted people.
Nyx is a hero I have fallen in love with. As mentioned in my review for God’s War, I am drawn by her passion and love for the people she considers hers. Given the wrong kind of circumstances, my aspergers might have formed me into such a predator. Her emotions are easy to access, and her reasons are simple to understand.
She does her best to protect what is hers. Her ownership of both her people and her country enables Nyx to do what she considers the right thing for her country and her people.
Hurley’s Tirhani is in some ways like my Norway. Norway is a small country known for its apparent peaceful approach to life enabled by the safety of wealth. However, as exporters of arms and ammunition over whose end-location we have no control, we are also guilty of bringing war to other countries. All we have to do is look at the result of the US destruction of both Afghanistan and Iraq. Considering the US is one of our largest customers, this really isn’t something to be proud about. Yet we go about our peaceful lives without giving women and children whose men have been torn out of their lives a single thought. All weapon producing countries whose citizens live fairly peaceful lives share in this destruction.
Rhys and Inaya have settled in peaceful Tirhani hoping that Nyx will never turn up again. Understandable, really, as Nyx represents an excruciating time of both of their lives. But the Beldame rebellion brings them all together effecting a new period of needing to kill or be killed. Who needs enemies when they have a friend like Nyx. Perhaps this is the greatest difference between the three. Rhys and Inaya (and Khos) cling to the idea of not needing to involve themselves in keeping their families safe by keeping the world safe. It is the simplest path to choose in life. I venture in and out of it. Nyx dives head-on into her attempt to keep Umayma as safe as possible.
Once Rhys and Inaya seem to no longer have a choice, they to do their very best to stay alive. Most people seem to wish to live and they will go to great lengths to stay alive. Umayma can be both heaven and hell for its inhabitants. For Nyxnissia, Nasheen and Chenja it seems to be a never-ending hell.
Norway ≈ Tirhan
Angelika Rust displays one of my favorite traits in an author. She evolves and improves over time. Once a Rat shows just how far Rust has come in her writing. The only thing she continues to do that annoys me is to overuse the word “whom”.
“It’s worse than I thought,” she groaned, rolling onto her back. “It isn’t innocence, it’s honor. You’re the son of a rich bastard of a trader and a madwoman. Whom, for fire’s sake did you inherit your honor from?”
Honor is a strange concept. For one thing, honor varies from person to person. There does seem to be a common denominator across nations, namely that to be considered honorable, one must keep promises/oaths made. Nivvo seems to have honor as an in-born character trait. Such a trait makes Nivvo perfect for some roles but disqualifies him when breaking promises might be needed. There are several high-status professions, in real life and in Istonnia, involving deception and deceit, that Nivvo could not fill.
In Once a Rat Nivvo is sent on a joint mission for the Regent and Underlord of Istonnia in the hopes that Istonnia might be saved from more fighting. Being the kind of story that Once a Rat is, the likelihood of Nivvo surviving that mission is in doubt. But Nivvo accepts that as his duty. Part of that duty has to do with his promises to obey Vicco, but Nivvo also seems to feel that his relationship with the Regent obliges him to serve Istonnia as best he can.
Part of his mission terrifies him. Practical experience of slavery turns out to be completely different from the theoretical understanding of its nature.
“…, he knew they’d come back to haunt him for the rest of his life … a child, little more than a toddler, on his hands and knees, and a soldier stomping on the tiny fingers till they broke with a sickening crunch … a woman his own age, tears streaming from her closed eyes as a slave handler cut her clothes away to reveal her body to a customer … a man hugging the pole he was tied to, screaming relentlessly as a lash opened up gash after gash on his already scarred back …”
Slavery, the objectification of people taken to extremes. The real world still embraces slavery and most of us are quietly complicit in letting it carry on. Nivvo’s mission is to get to the person trying to work against slavery in Baredi and help that person succeed. But the odds are against the abolitionists.
There are some very angry people left in Istonnia. Choosing to smother his loved ones in protectiveness happens to be one of Nivvo’s greatest failings. Even Vilores is kept in the dark. Shame on Nivvo and his father for breaking that law once again.
While Nivvo is gone Cambrosi is having fun trying to stay alive. Fedoro is helping him. Someone in his organization is trying to overthrow the Underlord. If it works, then Istonnia seems doomed to enter what might become a civil war.
Plenty of action, some violence, some sex – neither very explicit.
If you were a bodyguard, how far would you go to protect your charge? Would you allow yourself to be raped? How about teaching friendly nations how your own people fight? Could you live with watching the other side maim and kill others because you needed to get your charge to a certain place? To what extent would you be able to hide all of these abilities behind a cheerful, charming and helpful exterior? Hmmmm.
These were some of the more serious sides to the story of Paragon Lost. Perhaps it is a good thing magic made it geas-like for the Blades to use all of their abilities. Sometimes life might make it difficult to do what needs to be done in order to save the reputation of a nation or the secrets of a nation.
Once a Blade is bonded to their ward, with a sword through their heart, no less, they seem to become irresistible to their objects of interest. Beaumont would probably never have had any problems in that area. The guy is charming and intelligent – a dangerous combination. Oak resembles his chosen name. Solid, both of body and psyche. Arkell appears weak, almost invisible, but he is anything but. He is also the most learned of the trio.
All three have to make difficult choices on their way to pick up Princess Tasha with Lord Wassail. Wassail’s health is terrible. But Wassail has no higher wish than that to fulfill his monarch’s charges. The four of them have to make changes to plans, travel through extremely dangerous areas and try to leave those areas without being harmed.
There is humor, tension, despair and action in Paragon Lost. Dave Duncan takes us into his imagination and gives us a great romp. This is great entertainment, but not solely entertainment.
Paragon Lost can be found at Harper Collins
Once again, my son and I have finished reading a book together. He enjoyed the first two books of the Chronicles of Elantra, which is why we just finished the third one, Cast in Secret. My son’s conclusion about Cast in Secret was to get me to begin reading the next in line. He laughed a couple of times, giggled some and seemed touched by certain parts of the story. I had similar feelings in about the same places of the story as he did.
Kaylin’s attention deficit disorder is a good thing for us, the readers. This way Sagara has an excuse to introduce us to concepts Kaylin missed in class. Even though Kaylin knows she needs to learn certain principles about magic and ought to know more about racial relationships in Elantra, she seems to struggle with the same inability to pay attention to subjects she considers irrelevant to her job as I do. In social settings this proves a problem for her, and Lord Sanabalis is clear on her being a long way from ready to meet the Emperor (unless she wishes to be eaten). Some people need to learn from experience rather than theory (well, actually, I think that most of us only get true learning through experience). Kaylin needs this more than most people. This inability to learn any other way tends to get her into trouble.
I like Michelle Sagara writing about a person like this. With one dyslexic son, one autistic son and one autistic mother in this family, we are all stuck in that mode. My reading ability, age and gender have probably all contributed to the theoretical understanding I have of people. Face to face encounters can go really well, but like Kaylin I tend to break social rules. Admittedly, some of that disobedience comes from not seeing the importance of the rules, but there again Kaylin, I and both of my sons find common ground. Other rules are broken because we do not understand them.
Words. Such a powerful tool. And what a difficult tool it is to wield. Sagara does a great job portraying the difficulties that arise from not understanding what is being taught. Kaylin has a theoretical understanding of what the Tha’laani are, but she is petrified of them. Her terror is a common one in humanity – fear of the unknown. In this sense, all humans are autistic. But just because a race is physically able to read your secrets, does not mean that they want to. Unfortunately, we humans seem wired to think that if a person is born a certain way, then that means that they wish to wield that “power” over you. We seldom stop to think that the other person might be just as afraid of us, disgusted with us or simply does not care about who and what we are. I suppose that comes from our ego-centrism.
Thankfully, Kaylin is also the kind of person who tries her hardest to face her fears. Facing our fears is so stinking hard. But sometimes a situation arises that forces us to do so. And what do we usually discover? Well … The answer is given considering the story and the obviousness of the question. In Kaylin’s case, the Tha’laani children helped her face and overcome her fears . Children are great fear-breakers that way – if we let them be.
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