Review: “Of Blood and Bone,” Nora Roberts

Pros: Fascinating world-building; excellent characters
Cons: Part of the ending comes out of nowhere
Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Nora Roberts’s Of Blood and Bone: Chronicles of The One, Book 2 picks up a handful of years after Year One left off. Fallon Swift is approaching her thirteenth birthday. Her parents, Lana and Simon, know that on that birthday, the mysterious Mallick will return, taking Fallon away for two years to train her to be The One. Since the plague called the Doom wiped out most of the earth’s population, magic has arisen in its wake. Vicious Raiders attack anyone who might have something they want. Zealous Purity Warriors torture and execute any Uncanny (magic-wielder or inhuman) they can get their hands on. The few remnants of the government and military capture Uncannies in order to study them, blaming them for the plague that destroyed humankind. The darkness has risen upon the land, and Fallon is prophesied to lead the forces of light against that darkness. Mallick has so much to teach her, however–from sword-fighting to potions, side-long ethics lessons to magical combat–and so little time to do it in.

My only real quibble with this book is that a couple of characters relevant to the climax only show up at the last minute, out of nowhere. It feels abrupt and a bit unsatisfying. Also, spells that rhyme always seem a little silly to me, and the tone of the book isn’t meant to be silly. Other than that, I loved Of Blood and Bone.

In particular, I feel the characters are wonderful. Mallick bears only a passing resemblance to the stereotypical older male mentor, displaying his own moments of impatience and wonder, and even the ability to learn from his student. Fallon, a girl who’s being thrust into a role much older than her years, is a nice balance of young and impatient, yet wise beyond her years. I like the fact that although she is in fact stubborn and resists some of Mallick’s guidance, she isn’t stupid about it. Also, not all of her training is made up of typical montage moments–she gets to go out into the field and help the people of New Hope a couple of times, and that’s exciting and interesting.

The world-building is very good. The fact that gasoline is still in use is a little problematic, since I understand from reading plenty of other post-apocalyptics that it would go bad well before fifteen years are up. But that’s a small problem in an otherwise excellent setup. We get to see more of New Hope and how it has survived, how the town is set up, etc. Less time is spent on survivalism in this installment obviously, but it’s still touched on as needed. All in all, a really nice addition to the post-apocalyptic and paranormal genres.

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