Leading the black fleet from the deck of Tide Child Joron takes every opportunity to strike at his enemies, but he knows his time is limited. His fleet is shrinking and the Keyshan’s Rot is running through his body. He runs from a prophecy that says he and the avian sorcerer, the Windseer, will end the entire world.
But the sea dragons have begun to return, and if you can have one miracle, who is to say that there cannot be another?
The Bone Ship’s Wake is the third and final installment in R.J. Barker’s The Tide Child trilogy. This series is known for it’s sea-faring, pirate-y writing style, prophetic storyline, and characters that dynamic characters. I can safely say The Bone Ship’s Wake holds true to form.
This series has been up and down for me, as I really liked the first book (The Bone Ships). The piratey-ness was fun, and the storyline was really intriguing. Barker really hooked me with the world-building, also, creating such a unique and interesting world. When it came to book 2 (The Call of the Bone Ships), while it was a good book, it did not resonate with me as much as the first. I had trouble putting my finger on why. Maybe it was the fact that much of the book takes place on land. Or it is possible the fact that there was so much of the guillaime in the story (I think they are really cool, but I thought Call overdid it). Whatever the reason, I just did not connect as well with book 2. I was really happy having read The Bone Ship’s Wake and being able to say that connection is back and in full effect.
For me, the best aspect of this book is how emotional it is. Barker has done a phenomenal job throughout this series of making every character matter. Each one has a deep history, and their thoughts and feelings are described in detail. This storyline has been quite a journey for everyone involved, and going through it with them has allowed me to foster relationships that are irreplaceable. Then to see everything they experience in this final installation brought those feelings to 100. These characters are put through the ringer, and the book was an insane emotional roller coaster.
I was happy to see Joron, Meas, et al, were back on the sea for the most part, as well. That is where they belong! Barker’s writing is phenomenal, too, and it is easy to see when reading. The language and setting had me feeling completely immersed in the world the author created. It almost reads like a ballad (which I do not think is an accident on the part of the author). The fact that there is a prophecy involved added another layer of intrigue and depth, as well.
The one aspect of the book that kept it from a perfect rating was that there were times when decisions had to be made, and it felt a little repetitive. I do not want to get into the weeds too much with this because spoilers, but I thought in certain situations the path to a solution could have been more creative. On the whole, this did not affect my enjoyment of the book in a big way, though.
The Bone Ship’s Wake is the perfect ending to what has been a wonderfully-written pirate story. I enjoyed the easy connection with the characters, fascinating world building, and a narrative full of emotion. I highly recommend this series for fantasy readers.