Book Review: Kingdom of Bones (The Echoes Saga, #5) by Philip C. Quaintrell
Cover art illustrated by: Chris McGrath
Kingdom of Bones by Philip C. Quaintrell
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Series: The Echoes Saga (Book #5 of 9)
Genre: Fantasy, Epic Fantasy, High Fantasy
Pages: 592 pages (Kindle Edition)
Published: 6th May 2019 by Quaintrell Publishing (Self-Published)
With Kingdom of Bones, I am halfway through the super underhyped series: The Echoes Saga.
“That’s exactly why they cheer his name. He doesn’t have a dragon or supernatural advantages. He inspired them because he showed them that they could be brave too. In a moment of clarity, Inara could see the true purpose of her order like never before. Dragorn aren’t supposed to inspire; how could we when we’re considered to be something else entirely? We’re here to protect and advise, nothing more. The people need inspirations they can relate to, even attain themselves.”
I finished reading Kingdom of Bones two weeks ago, at the end of August. And it’s only now that I could finally sit and write this review. Yes, this review took me two weeks to do. Why? Because my brain could not seem to feel confident with its decision on a rating. Here is the thing. I mentioned in my August Wrap-Up video that I think The Fall of Neverdark was better than Kingdom of Bones. However, just two days after posting my wrap-up video, I must say that I’m not so sure anymore regarding that assessment. It was hard for me to decide on a proper rating for this book, and I will elaborate upon this soon, but for now, I will give it a similar rating to The Fall of Neverdark, a 4 stars rating.
“Man is the only creature who refuses to be what he is. Dragons listen to their nature and live accordingly. Orcs are the same, elves too. Man is stubborn. We can have ambitions beyond our capacity and equally lack the ambition to fulfil our capacity. We are prone to violence as easily as we are prone to love.”
First, I’ll begin this review by discussing the two elements that didn’t work for me. Kingdom of Bones is the fifth book in The Echoes Saga series by Philip C. Quaintrell. And it is also the middle book in the second out of three trilogies of the nine-books series. We, fantasy readers, know already how the second book of a trilogy often is plagued with the infamous middle book syndrome. And despite how amazing Kingdom of Bones is, it is not completely devoid of this issue. This will be completely subjective, but I found some of the POV chapters in the first half of Kingdom of Bones to feel like they’re fillers or too long for their own good before we get to the amazing parts. And secondly, I can’t believe I’m saying this, but Doran’s chapters before he converged with the other main characters in the second half of Kingdom of Bones were detrimental to the overall quality of the narrative. For the majority of the book, other than his last few chapters here, I totally didn’t feel like his chapters brought anything fruitful other than being comic relief.
“Every kingdom is built on the bones of those who came before. This is the way of things.”
These issues are why I had difficulty with settling on my rating because I certainly struggled through those parts. But at the same time, fortunately, I’m happy to say that these issues were worth persevering. Quaintrell has mentioned that he started to feel confident about his writing starting from Kingdom of Bones, and I can definitely see why. Excluding the increase in quality of his prose, what he achieved with Alijah’s POV chapters in Kingdom of Bones is something new for the series. Quaintrell dived deep into the breaking and the building of Alijah’s character in Alijah’s Lessons, and I think the Eight Lessons Alijah learned in Kingdom of Bones were some of the best chapters in the entire series so far.
“Here is today’s lesson; heroes die. The world doesn’t need people to stand up for it and die in the process. They would be called heroic, selfless, yes. Martyrs to the cause of peace… But Verda needs more than a dead hero to recall in hard times. It needs someone who doesn’t die, someone who will stand firm against the darkness and maintain peace at all costs.”
It is frankly surprising. Alijah was a new character that appeared for the first time in The Fall of Neverdark, and I did not actually LOVE the new characters over the returning characters from the first trilogy. But now, not only for Alijah but also for Vighon and Inara as well, I feel like the new characters are starting to stand on par in their presence with the returning characters. I loved it. Handling the balance of spotlights between the new and returning characters in The Echoes Saga is another thing that Quaintrell executed nicely.
“Today you’re going to learn that love gives you the strength to transform pain into power. Where others could only draw this from a chosen few that they love unconditionally, you will harness that strength and power from everyone around you. Your love for your people will give you the means to accomplish anything.”
I have always loved reading Quaintrell’s action scenes, and if you’re like me, I don’t think you’ll be disappointed with what you get here. The last 30% of Kingdom of Bones were the best action sequence in The Echoes Saga so far. It gets more incredible and epic with humans, elves, dragons, dragorns, orcs, and undead clashing with their steel and magic for supremacy. I read the final 30% of the novel in one sitting. I couldn’t put it down. And if this is a sign of the kind of action scenes we will get in future installments, I am stoked to find out how much more epic and intense the series will become.
“Those who carry swords… often believe you can only get the measure of a person if you fight them. They’re wrong. Only with words can you really dig into someone’s soul. The truth of a person must be teased out.”
Lastly, before I end this review, I am amazed by Quaintrell’s world-building. Not in the scale and originality of the world-building itself, but more in how much that goes into it considering that the author (if I’m not mistaken) is a pantser type of writer. The storyline and the revelations unshed in Kingdom of Bones felt as if Quaintrell has planned every part of his world-building since the beginning. The truth of the dragorn’s origin in Empire of Dirt was surprising already. And now we have the truth behind the Echoes of Fate.
“A wise man never knows all. Only a fool claims to know everything.”
Now you know why I struggled with my rating and writing my review for this novel. And you know what, upon further retrospection, despite some issues I had, I believe Kingdom of Bones is indeed one of the best of the series so far. I look forward to reading the next book, Age of the King, which will conclude the second trilogy of The Echoes Saga. Once again, I am surprised by how underhyped this series is.
“When I was a child… my father used to say, beware the man who brags about who he is. A lion never has to tell me it’s a lion.”
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