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#271 John Meaney: Bone Song

John Meaney: Bone Song

Paperback: 352 pages
Publisher: Gollancz (14 Feb 2008)
ISBN-10: 0575081759
ISBN-13: 978-0575081758
Category(ies): Fantasy

Back when reviewing Resolution, I expressed some disappointment with that novel, and with the series that it concluded. So here is a new novel, possibly a new series, and the question has to be: how good is it?

My answer has to be: very good.

One of the occasional joys of both fantasy and SF is encountering really good world building: entering a setting that is totally different form our own (whatever that might be) and yet rich, self-consistent, complete. In this world, Meaney has build not just a city, but a hinterland beyond with other nations that are utterly strange, and yet are understandable. The main action occurs in the city of Tristopolis, a megalopolis where the towers rise hundreds of floors, and which is powered by a form of necromancy that is disturbingly reminiscent of nuclear power. Humans aren't the only sentient and sapient beings around either: many (if not all) of the normal mechanisms are powered by imprisoned wraiths. And yet, there's big city crime, and corruptions, even if the crimes can be rather different.

Our hero is one Lieutenant Donal Riordan, a cop. His job; to protect a visiting opera singer who comes to the opera house in order to perform. Someone out there has taken up the habit of murdering world class performers in order to steal their bodies, and therefrom extract the bones.

So, we have a setting that is, among other books I've read, most closely like Walter Jon Williams' Metropolitan. In that setting, we have a cop trying to prevent murder, and trying to find out who is behind the existing killings. And we have a relationship story behind that.

The novel doesn't end well, but it ends satisfyingly. There is a dramatic satisfaction to that ending: it works, it's the right ending. There is space left open for further stories in this setting, but no requirement for them. And Meaney does the right thing with his setting with zombies, wraiths, humans and so on: he doesn't explain it, he just shows it, as if it doesn't need explaining or linking to our world. That's the right choice.

To conclude, then, this is Meaney back on form.
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