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Posts Tagged ‘California Bones’

I was hesitant to read this book. You see, osteomancers are a kind of mage who gain magic by eating parts of magical and extinct creatures, particularly the bones. At the higher levels, they also feed on each other. With this premise, I was concerned that it might be too grisly. Fortunately, the author gave just enough detail to make me shiver without disgusting me. (For comparison, I’ve never been able to finish any of the Anita Blake books.)

The setting is an alternate Earth where the above-mentioned magi have seized power and declared independence from the United States. Southern California is its own country, hemmed in by magical rivals. As a native Angelino, I enjoyed how Van Eekhout used the geography of Los Angeles and wove in all sorts of detail, such as Hollywood history and the La Brea Tar Pits. I enjoyed how familiar city and road names are connected to characters. I also enjoyed how he veered into strange but fascinating alterations like having canals everywhere instead of freeways.

As a novelist, I give him top marks for thinking deeply and carefully before putting pen to paper. There’s an unflinching quality here, similar to George R. R. Martin and C. J. Cherryh, as this author didn’t shy away from the darker aspects of his setting. I appreciate the leavening of humor to balance that darkness. I also appreciate how each character was fully thought out. Even the minor walk-ons showed quirky aspects that raised them above the stereotypical guard or passer-by.

My only complaint is the absence of dragons. Of course, dragons are real in this world. Their parts are used in the most powerful spells and constructs. Although the main character has one or two experiences where he “sees” in the form of a flying dragon, the beasts themselves are not present in this book. However, it looks like that will be rectified in the next two books.

Again, be aware there is persistent mention of cannibalism in this book. You’ll need to decide for yourself if that content is too much for you.

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