Review: The Lair of Bones

Series: The Runelords: #4

The Lair of Bones is an epic and fitting conclusion1 to the Runeslords saga. It takes the story of Gaborn and Raj Ahten, of Runelords and reavers, of elemental powers and far darker things, and brings it all together in a series of rather epic journeys and battles, culminating with an epic–if bittersweet–victory of light over dark, of good over evil.

Or does it?

Overall, it’s a solid conclusion and I quite enjoyed it. If you’ve made it this far in the series, I don’t think you’ll have any problems with this particular book.

Characterwise, I really enjoyed almost all of the plotlines/character growth and change.

Gaborn and Iome’s relationship is excellent, especially the idea that he’s going to save the world–but she takes it upon herself to save him along the way. The really are just all around good guys and finally getting a decent conclusion to Gaborn’s status as the Earth King after 4 books is nice. It’s so bittersweet how Gaborn ends up doomed to flare out and die so young in order to save the world .

Speaking of relationships, I really also love Myrrima and Borenson throughout the series but especially here. Thrown together basically by chance (or a twist of magic/fate), they’re really grown together as each grows into/out of their own powers. She is Waterborn but refuses to leave him–even if he can’t at first believe that’s even possible. He loses a lot of what makes him a powerful warrior and has to learn what it means to play second to her. And all throughout, they really do end up loving and respecting one another. I do enjoy how Farland does relationships in these series.

“What’s wrong?” Myrrima asked.

“I don’t know if I can do this anymore,” he said. “I’ve seen too many Dedicates die.”

Myrrima knew what he was thinking. He had been forced to butcher Raj Ahten’s Dedicates at Castle Sylvarresta–thousands of men, women, and children in a single night. And he was thinking of his own Dedicates that Raj Ahten had murdered at the Blue Tower.

“You know,” he said softly, “the marquis was right about me. As a young man, I always wanted to be a Runelord. I wanted to prove myself, and I thought that taking endowments would make me powerful. But it doesn’t just give you power. It gives you new responsibilities, and leaves you open to…whole new worlds of suffering.”

Averan coming into her own as an Earth Warden is also fascinating, especially the (somewhat forecasted) reveal that she’s the Earth Warden of the Reavers . There’s a lot more to explore there, I hope she has a part to play in future books. She is forced to grow a lot through these books and I really feel for her. Seeing the Fall/Winter of Binnesman’s journey as an Earth Warden is powerful as well.

And then there’s Raj Ahten. Oh he’s quite the character. Starting as a baddie, I really did keep hoping he would get a redemption arc. Even as he grows more and more to serve Fire, I fully thought that all four elemental powers would be needed for something or the other. But by the end of the Lair of Bones… let’s just say that it’s a solid ending for quite the character arc.

Plotwise, it’s still only a scant two weeks over the course of two books (which is insane), with this taking only 3 days. There’s just so much going on. The journey (finally) into the underworld is epic, the reavers in their home turf and truely at battle are terrifying and the One True Master–well, let’s say that Farland truely does have a way with words.

And suddenly, Gaborn saw it.

A monstrosity appeared among the shadows, a reaver larger and more bloated than any fell mage he had ever encountered. Her feet clacked and her swollen belly groaned as she slid across the floor. A loud hissing followed as she scrabbled forward, air streaming from her vast anus.

The reek was magnificent. Gaborn could smell musty endowments, like putrid fat and rotten cabbages and moldy hair, so thick in the air that it choked him.

Vast anus. That is all.

Seriously though, I really like how believably ‘alien’ Farland made the reavers. I hope for more of that as well.

OVerall, as I said. A fitting conclusion. I know that the next book in the series is basically the first in a sequel series all it’s own with a mostly new cast and I also remember having trouble with it last time around. But it’s time to try again I think. Onward!

Random side note:

Gaborn counted the ribs, and found that it had been a girl, a small child of perhaps four or five. The girl had been curled in a fetal position with her thumb in her mouth when she died. A blanket was wrapped around her, an Inkarran blanket woven from long strands of white goat hair.

… even in this world? Men and women have the same number of ribs. Why would that be a common belief in a world without a Judeo-Christian creation mythology?

  1. Except it’s book 4 of currently 9… But the next book always involves a timeskip and mostly completely new characters, so I suppose that is fair. ↩︎