I was not familiar with Alison Croggon’s epic saga “The Books of Pellinor”, so when I picked up The Bone Queen, which is a recently written and published sequel to the 4-book “Pellinor” series, I had no idea what to expect. Fortunately for me, though, since the book is a sequel I was introduced to the characters and their stories without feeling like I was missing out on key information.
The first thing that struck me about this book was the writing. I have been yearning for deeper fiction for a while now, specifically deeper fantasy, having gotten tired of the commercial and easily digestible fantasy books that are all the rage nowadays. I definetely got what I wanted. The writing is beautiful, some might perhaps find the pace a bit slow in the beginning, but I personally relished the chance of losing myself in the beautiful narrative and the carefully-constructed words.
The fantasy in this book is not only deep and soulful, but also somewhat scientific–without losing the intuitive edge that makes magic and fantasy so alluring in stories. It pulled me in right away, and didn’t let me go until the last page. Magic and the state of a person’s soul is intimately related in this book, so whatever level of spirituality you’re at directly influences the amount of magical talent that is latent within you. Hence, the most talented magicians are usually people with well-developed and articulated souls, masters in a way, which all reminded me a bit of the jedi order without feeling like it was a complete rip-off (because it’s not, at all. There’s no light-sabers, for starters).
The characters are well-developed, and not only that, but they’re mature. They have a degree of self-awareness that I have missed seeing in the characters of recent books (what with their irritating naiveté and emotional immaturity). This doesn’t mean that the characters in The Bone Queen don’t have flaws. By all means, they do, even the most spiritually advanced magicians have some very real and serious flaws, it would be unrealistic if they didn’t. But these flaws are approached and dealt with from a mature place, through mature perspectives, and this is what marks the difference in this book.
If I have one qualm it would be the pacing of the plot. Nothing major happens for a while, which is all right because the narrative and the characters push the story forwards anyways, but then everything happens so suddenly in the last third of the book that I was left struggling to keep up with this rapid change of pace. What’s more, the conflict is resolved so swiftly in the last chapters that it felt somewhat anti-climactic.
I definetely want to buy and read the rest of the books in The Pellinor Series, which were written approximately 10-15 years ago (the first book, “The Gift”, was published in 2003). What’s more, I would like to make The Pellinor Series part of my print collection, starting with The Bone Queen which I serendipitously bought as a paperback. I usually read from my kindle nowadays and am in the process of donating a large number of my print books to free up space in my print library. I only want to keep the print books that I really like, the books I would like my children to read someday, and the books which are timeless classics. Everything else just takes up space. But The Pellinor Series, I believe, would stand the test.
I recommend this book to any fantasy fan that is interested in a deeper system of magic than what is currently displayed in the popular, recently published fantasy books of today.