The Bone Ship’s Wake by R.J. Barker – Review

Published: September 28, 2021

Publisher: Orbit Books

Series: The Tide Child #3

Genre: Fantasy

Pages: 592 (Paperback)

My Rating: 5.0/5.0

A copy of this book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Discover a brilliantly imagined epic fantasy of honor, glory, and warfare in this action-packed conclusion to the David Gemmell Award-nominated trilogy.

Joron Twiner’s dreams of freedom lay shattered. His Shipwife is gone and all he has left is revenge. Leading the black fleet from the deck of Tide Child, he takes every opportunity to hurt the Hundred Isles he is given. But his time is limited.

His fleet is shrinking, the Keyshan’s Rot is running through his body, and he hiding from a prophecy that says he and the avian sorcerer, the Windseer will end the entire world.

But the Sea Dragons have returned, a miracle in itself, and who is to say that if you can have one miracle, there cannot be another?

RJ Barker has really knocked this WHOLE series into another category of awesome. Not to mention, it’s earned its spot as one of my favorite sea-faring fantasies of all time! It’s quite an emotional tale and honestly, I was somewhat teary-eyed by the end of it. Thanks for punching me in the soul, RJ.

It starts off with a rather traumatic scene showing Meas’s brutal torture at the hands of the religious order, which only serves to really make the reader quite anxious. I spent many pages mentally hurrying Joron along and hoping they would find Meas sooner rather than later. It was to no avail of course, since these things happen in the author’s own good time. Joron and the crew of the Tide Child are in their own series of unpleasant predicaments, running from the Hundred Isles fleet while low on supplies and with a ship that desperately needs to dock for repairs. Joron’s fame as the brutal Black Pirate has made the Tide Child a more tempting target than ever and this means there’s not a dull moment to be found. Sailing into the deadliest uncharted waters, encounters with krakens and the massive keyshan, rescuing Meas, and taking down corrupt leaders certainly keeps one on the edge of their seat. 

It’s safe to say that if you’ve enjoyed the previous books, you’ll be delighted (and maybe traumatized) by this final installment. The characterization gets better and better and the characters suffer real consequences for their choices and the choices of others. Joron is now a capable acting Shipwife, but secretly struggles with the distance his position puts between him and his crew. The life of a leader can be lonely. Meas’s lengthy capture leaves her with serious physical and psychological damage, evident in her actions later in the book. Gullaime continues to be a strange creature you can’t help but love, and it saddened me to see it be oppressed by the Windshorn and weighted down by duty. All of these elements serve as evidence of RJ Barker’s talent and kept me thoroughly hooked.

I can’t recommend this series enough! If you think pirates and sea dragons sound awesome, then you should definitely give this a try. If you’ve read this and need more RJ Barker books to fill the void, check out his Wounded Kingdom trilogy which is a great story about assassins, war, and friendship.

8 thoughts on “The Bone Ship’s Wake by R.J. Barker – Review

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