The Bone Ship’s Wake (The Tide Child #3) by RJ Barker

Posted On 30 September 2021

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My Five Word TL:DR Review : A fantastic ending to series

BoneShips Wake

I have to say that The Bone Ship’s Wake could possibly be one of the most satisfying, slightly bittersweet and tear inducing endings to a series that I can recall reading.  Put bluntly, and if you don’t have time for the rest of this review – this series is superb.  If you’re already familiar with this particular author through his Assassins (Wounded Kingdom) series then you’ll know he can write some addictive fiction loaded with lovable characters and compelling plot.  He manages to find a winning balance between light and dark through the use of great dialogue, emotional impact and humour and his characters quite simply take on a life of their own.  I never quite expected to fall so hard for a seafaring story, in fact it felt a little risky in some respects to take such a step away from the fantasy ‘norm’ but the author pulls it off and then some.  In fact, towards the final chapters I was actually cursing out loud – ‘give these characters a break for pity’s sake’ – but, my pleas went (mostly) unheard. This is an author who will pull on your heartstrings relentlessly and who refuses to take the easy option.

I don’t intend to go into the plot much here although there may be some unintentional spoilers for the earlier books so if you haven’t yet started this series take heed (also take my advice and dive into this series soon).

A year has passed since Call of the Bone Ships concluded.  Meas is captive, held who knows where and tortured cruelly.  Joron now commands the Tide Child, although, for reasons that I won’t reveal, refuses to be named Shipwife instead becoming known as the Black Pirate.  He’s not proud of many of his actions since Meas was taken and is becoming desperate to find her before the truth will out and her chances of survival disappear.  This is truly a race against time as Joron is slowly being eaten away by Keyshan’s Rot.  You could be forgiven for thinking this a tale of revenge with one man at the heart of the story relentlessly chasing what seems an unachievable goal and going to terrible depths in order to do so but, in fact, it’s much more than that.  At its heart this is a story of hope, right and wrong and the sacrifices that people make to live decent lives free of tyranny.  Also, who am I kidding, there are sea dragons, tentacled beasts, mystical foggy waters that are believed to be haunted, dark, stormy and impassable seas and impossible chases.

Predominantly this third instalment spends a good proportion of the time on the high seas.  There are chases, fantastically described as these tall ships cut through the waves, nail biting skirmishes with sea critters and lulls where the Tide Child creeps silently through foggy seas hoping to avoid detection.  There is also a dramatic return to land and a daring plan of rescue fraught with betrayal and reveals.  In fact there are so many twists and turns that as a reader you eventually start to mistrust everything and doubt everyone – this is not easy to achieve and it’s so good because it creates an enormous amount of tension as you’re reading and keeps you glued to the page and constantly on edge.

The absolute, hands down, winning element is of course the characters and the amazing character arcs that have been experienced throughout the series.  Joron makes for excellent reading. He has committed atrocities and suffers accordingly.  Surprisingly for me, particularly with Meas being such a compelling character and so easy to love, I actually found Joron and Gullaime stole the show in this final instalment – and in fact I would say that the crew of the Child Tide reached the same conclusion as I did.

The other winning elements to this.  Well, the writing is superb.  Barker seems to have crafted his very own nautical language that is both easy and immersive.  I loved the time aboard ship and the ease with which we slipped into tension and danger and then escaped barely by the skin of the teeth.  On top of this I think the way the author has taken Meas and Joron and effectively turned them into, what would appear in simple terms to be stereotypical pirates with peg legs, eye patches, talking birds perched on shoulders, etc, but then actually managed to defy convention and make them so defiantly original – well, what can I say.  It’s impressive.

Any criticisms.  Well, apart from being sad that the adventure has concluded, I confess to moments of anger at the author’s relentlessly harsh treatment of the characters (*shakes fist*)!  The only other thing I would mention is that this is a series to be relished.  It takes it’s time to become established, to grow and reshape.  Basically, patience is not only a virtue but a requirement.  This isn’t a speedy read but to quote an old adage ‘all good things to those that wait’.

In conclusion, a stunning series not to be missed.

I received a copy through Netgalley, courtesy of the publisher, for which my thanks.  The above is my own opinion.

My rating 5 of 5 stars

6 Responses to “The Bone Ship’s Wake (The Tide Child #3) by RJ Barker”

  1. Tammy

    This series is brilliant, that’s all there is to it. I’m so curious to see what Barker is going to do next!

  2. maddalena@spaceandsorcery

    Joron and the Gullaime are indeed the best characters in this story, and their interactions are always a joy to behold: much as I cared for Meas – a magnificent creation, indeed – my heart belongs to those two. And probably more to the Gullaime than to Joron… 😉

  3. Rebecca

    Wonderful review!!! I loved that Joron and Guillaume stole the show – it was well earned.

  4. pagesandtea

    I only read down to your mention of unintentional spoilers because I’ve had the first book in this series for ages now and really need to find time for it, especially now the series is finished. Sounds like one you would recommend though 😀

  5. Lexlingua

    I’m not doing very well with the slower series these days, but I *will* save it for later. Thanks Lynn!

  6. Mogsy @ BiblioSanctum

    Everyone I know who has read this has loved it. I still need to catch up, so I sort of skimmed the details, but I’m looking forward to it so much!

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