The Tower of Bones by Frank P Ryan

Rating 8.5/10
Fast pace and and intriguing story arc.

Fate has brought together four young people from our world into the enchanted world of Tir. Together Kate, Alan, Mark and Mo present a formidable new force for good in this war-ravaged world: they are Hope for the millions of oppressed peoples that live here. The four have been split up, with one of their number kidnapped, one lost and one changing almost beyond recognition, and it falls to Alan to unite them once again and restore their strength. But the Great Witch Olc, scheming in her Tower of Bones, is planning to lure Alan into a trap. And she has resurrected the demigod Fangorath, a dreadful force for malice, for her own evil ends.

This is book 2 and comes after The Snowmelt River. It continues the tale of the four Earth-born children Alan, Kate, Mark and Mo in the land of Tir. We follow the story of Kate the lovely Irish ‘lass next door’ as she is imprisoned and tortured most cruelly by the Great Witch. Meanwhile Alan and Mo are still with the cat-like Shee and the ursine Olyihiu doing everything they can to find their way to Kate in order to rescue her from her ordeal. Mark, feared dead after the battle of Ossieriel, has found himself in some kind of ‘purgatory’ but has found some way is to merge with the ship that Alan and Mo and their forces sail on, enabling him to be the ship. Having become a non-corporeal entity is frustrating to Mark and gets him thinking as to whether he die if he were somehow able to return to Earth.

New races are introduced such as the Cill who are of the element of water but live an amphibian existence that is on the verge of dying. The Gargs, who are mentioned as servants of The Tyrant in The Snowmelt River, are also assisting the Great Witch in her demonic endeavours in The Tower of Bones, but it appears that not all are happy about such servitude. Meanwhile, lurking in the shadows is the Olyihiu traitor Snakoil Kawkaw, intent on revenge.

To me, the stories of the two girls Kate and Mo are the most intriguing; there is almost the hint of goddesses about them already. Mark takes us back to where it all started but things have changed in an unexpected way, how Ryan will deal with this second front will be interesting to read. As for Alan he fulfils the role of stalwart leader well enough despite the fact that he is a teen still coming to grips with an immense power, but I am hoping that there is some internal darkness awaiting Alan, which he will find difficult to fight.

What I think Ryan does really well though are his evil characters, they are brutal and seem to get all the best lines. Because they are so deliciously foul, when one of them meets their end there is no sympathy whatsoever for them, they have only themselves to blame. The resourceful Snakaw Kakoil however, isn’t so much evil, as just plain bad, he isn’t on the side of our young heroes and their allies, but neither is he on the side of The Tyrant or any of his lieutenants, he is out for himself.

The pace of the book is ferocious, our young heroes have a lot of endurance, and they need it as Ryan doesn’t give them much time to rest. Also you can feel Ryan’s influences, the inventive races he creates and the second branch of the story that he has written for Mark’s character at the end of this second book are reminiscent of Phillip Pullman’s Dark Materials Trilogy, the epic scale and facelessness of evil is Tolkienesque, but I also caught an air of C. S. Lewis.

For this book I have given a 8.5/10, for the fast pace, the intriguing story arc of Kate and Mo and for the taste of things that are to come with Mark’s return.

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