THE BONE SHIP’S WAKE by RJ Barker (BOOK REVIEW)
The Tide Child series was a pretty damn emotional ride and this final book was definitely the hardest to get through. Rest easy the writing is as spectacular as always, cutting right to the bone when it needs to, but the content is a little harder to stomach. Meas has been captured and is being pointlessly tortured for information she has already given up. The Gullaime is still being hassled by the fanatical religious nut job who controls almost his every move. Joron has a death sentence on top of a death sentence as the rot slowly consumes him and is desperate to find his shipwife, so desperate that he will burn, pillage and plunder anyone who stands in his way without a shred of mercy. All the people Joron counted as allies are treating him like an 80’s Joe Pesci who you don’t want to piss off but at the same time you don’t really want to be friends with, let alone being entangled in whatever fate has in store for him. There is something of an addled drug addict in the way he conducts himself in this book. He is strung out and needs his Lucky Meas and as a result his demeanor shifts from rational and considerate to entirely myopic as his desires and the needs of his crew become the only star by which he guides his moral compass. It’s sad to see him this way but considering the absolute force of nature that is Lucky Meas entirely understandable.
I tell you halfway through this book I felt like I was the one that was keelhauled. Things are about as grim as could be for the Tide Child and it’s crew. Then something happens. Joron actually starts asking the right questions of the right people and, like an open festering wound that has been cleaned for the first time, things start to smell better. We’re reminded by the characters themselves that every one of them is already dead and this boat is their sentence and in that recognition of loss there is a huge sense of gain. Every day is a gift, every sacrifice is a release and every act of defiance is a big old eat me to the fickle gods and their strings of fate.
The Bone Ship’s Wake is phenomenal and a smashing way to finish the series and it answers an absolute ship load of questions abou Meas, Joron, the Gullaime and the fate of the Tide Child, the pluckiest and most murderous boat on the ocean. The cast of characters, the changes in their roles and motivations, the development over the course of the series, was done so bloody well. The fighting is superb, gliding between tense drawn out chases scenes and brutal, close quarters, spine crushing, boat on boat hardcore action. Sometimes it’s even boat on boat on boat.
All in all this is a fantastic book and a perfect way to end the series.
Goodbye Joron, goodbye Meas and goodbye Ms Gullaime.