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Saturday, November 23, 2013

The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon

The search is on for the next great fantasy writer, especially since the most recent fantasy writer, J.K. Rowling, managed to become a billionaire on her Harry Potter series, and no doubt lots

Open the book and straightaway you encounter a two-page spread of "the seven orders of clairvoyance."  Do not skip over this or it will take you chapters to catch up with who is who.  This is not going to be any 'Game of Thrones' in terms of following what the heck is going on, but there is a higher level of complexity that what those of us whose science fiction reading is largely limited to 'The Hunger Games' and Harry Potter.

The list of  characters run from soothsayers to the much rarer "jumpers," of which Paige, our teenage heroine, is one—specifically, a "dreamwalker," who can roam in the ethereal world and affect the dreamscapes of others. Lots of lore to be gleaned from that skill.   It would be irrelevant, however, without a plausible way of bringing in the supernatural, and Ms. Shannon provides that in satisfactorily tricky fashion.

The year is 2059, and Paige lives in an England ruled by the Scion, a kind of for-your-own-protection tyranny. Her world split from ours 200 years before, when something tore a hole in reality and let through human-shaped and inhumanly attractive entities from the Netherworld called Rephaim. They insist they are here to protect humanity from other entities they brought with them, the Emim, or Buzzers. It's pretty clear, though, that the Scion has made a devil's bargain with humanity's alleged protectors.

The Rephs constantly are rounding up "voyants"—like Paige—whom they use as footsoldiers in their war against the Buzzers. The voyants are all living in hiding, except for traitors who serve the Scion. Every 10 years—echoes of folktale here—the rounded-up voyants are sent to a Rephaim stronghold called Sheol—in our world, Oxford--for the Bone Season.  The story has all the elements that you would hope for in a series projected to run 7 books, and while it is very derivative, in the sense that it is not breaking any new ground, it is also quite well done.

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