Dragon Bones is the first book in Patricia Briggs’ HUROG duology. Ward, our main character, has lived the past seven years of his life playing the role of a simpleton, ever since his father nearly beat him to death. His pretending has kept him alive all these years, but when his father dies in a hunting accident Ward is suddenly declared the heir of Hurog. He now has to convince his remaining family and friends that he has what it takes to rule Hurog, while also keeping his eyes on the threat posed by his uncle, who he isn’t sure he can trust.
Although I’m a big fan of Briggs’ MERCY THOMPSON books, I often find myself wishing she would return to the high fantasy novels she produced earlier in her writing career. Dragon Bones and its sequel aren’t my favorite of her earlier works (in my opinion the later RAVEN duology is much better), but they do represent some of her strengths as a fantasy writer: namely, her ability to create a rich fantasy world without getting too bogged down in mythology, while also creating personable characters to populate it. Ward is definitely the sort of character you find yourself rooting for.
Briggs’ fantasy is accessible but that doesn’t mean it’s boring. The plot in Dragon Bones suffers from a certain jumpiness at times, but it moves at a quick enough pace that you don’t mind too much. Briggs isn’t quite skilled enough to write the political machinations without them coming off as clunky, but overall this book is a pleasant enough read.
I listened to the audio version of Dragons Bones, read by Joe Manganiello. I wasn’t a huge fan of the reader as his narration has a monotonous quality to it. The different characters’ voices had very little range, and the women almost none at all. If you can manage it, skip the audio and read this book the old-fashioned way.