Of Bone and Thunder by Chris Evans

Chris Evans’ Of Bone Thunder is a fantasy tale heavily influenced by the Vietnam War. Set in a jungle world inhabited by, amongst others, humans, dwarves, dragons and slyts (I do wish the author had chosen a different name for this race and hope it is not what I fear it is) it does not portray war as heroic but as ultimately pointless.

This is an interesting concept for a military/historical fantasy novel. Guy Gavriel Kay this is not but it does what it does well enough. To get an idea of the content, think of a fantasy adaptation of Stanley Kubrick’s Full Metal Jacket where dragons replace helicopters, and crossbows replace machine guns. And Evans should be commended for attempting something so ambitious and for in the main making it work. It is pretty well written and engaging and manages to emphasise the horror and futility of war through its jaded, damaged soldiers. The dialogue, aided by the humour and camaraderie of the soldiers, was good and the battle scenes were full of action and well executed. 

On the negative side (in addition the race named the slyts) I found that the war itself wasn’t explained sufficiently to understand why it is was happening and why it is still unresolved after such a long time. The characters also, I felt, lacked depth due the lack of personal back-story.

I think a lot of Western fantasy book readers will enjoy this book.

7/10 A fantasy tale heavily influenced by the Vietnam War

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