Hall of Bones by Tim Hardie

SPFBO Status: Finalist

Rate: 8/10

Medium: ebook (426 pages in print)

Overview (No Spoilers)

In a world akin to that of Vikings, Hall of Bones follows the story of the second son to a clan chief in a family of warriors, during a time of change and upheaval for his clan. Rothgar embodies a stereotypical second son who is oblivious to the larger world around him as he has tunnel vision to his own desires and ambitions. His older brother, Jorik, fills the role of the heir perfectly, even achieving the warrior build that Rothgar lacks. Along with their sister Nuna, the close-knit family must respond to various challenges to their father’s throne throughout this tale, with sacrifices being made to fulfill their duties. One challenge soon rises above all others as the neighboring Vorund Clan makes unexpected and bloody raids far into the Reavesburg Clan territories, with rumored use of black magics. Will Rothgar and his family not only be able to keep their throne, but also their lives?

While the first book in The Brotherhood of the Eagle series by Tim Hardie is a quick read that keeps the reader engaged throughout, Hall of Bones can in no way be called a happy story. Every time there is any sense of hope for our protagonists, Hardie has an unexpected surprise waiting just around the corner to dash this optimism to pieces. That said, these plot twists serve to elevate this read, as levels of anticipation and suspense were equally heightened, especially knowing no character was safe from Hardie’s figurative chopping block. 

While the twists and turns served to propel this story into new unexpected lands, further evolving the literary world, I would have loved more details, especially regarding the magical elements. We were learning about this new skill at the same pace as poor Rothgar. Magic wasn’t actually physically witnessed in Hall of Bones till 40% of the way through, despite having been referenced as used within the wider world. I didn’t miss the fantasy elements prior to this inclusion as I was absorbed into the story on its merit alone. As such, Reavesburg and the surrounding clans shunned its use, with the lack of knowledge ultimately handicapping them. 

Overall, Hall of Bones is a tale of warriors, magic, and loyalties where no character is safe, filled with surprises that keep the reader guessing at what Hardie has in store for Rothgar and his family. 

Additional Insight (Spoilers Abound)

  • The killing of Jorik and his family was crushing but served to drive the story in a totally unexpected direction.
  • When fleeing the hoard of possessed villagers, what are the odds that Rothgar and his crew would happen upon the hut that Leif was hiding in. Also, there was so much buildup to finding Leif, but it turned out to be anticlimactic. Rothgar and he hardly talked afterward, and there were no key revelations other than he had been found.
  • Why did Blackeyes look so strangely at Etta?
  • When will Thengill tell Arissa his true feelings? Will she reciprocate them? 
  • What is Ekkill’s story? 
  • Johan’s attitude toward Joldir and Rothgar was so frustrating both for the characters and the readers. The proud ruler was not humbled by his experience in the least. When viewed through other eyes, perhaps Johan was stepping to the plate in a time of adversity. 
  • I want to know more about Etta’s background. How old is she? Who was dear to her that the durath possessing Adalrikr killed?
  • With Leif’s possessed, pregnant mother now in Reavesburg, under the care of Desta’s parents, will Desta be safe? Will Reavesburg?
  • What happened to Freydja and her family? Will the betrothal to Bandor still stand after all of this chaos and death?
  • Is Desta’s future baby actually Haarl’s?
  • I couldn’t help but draw comparisons to the Ironborn Kingsmoot (A Song of Ice and Fire) and the Reavesburg’s moot when they needed to choose a new clan chief. 
  • What is happening with Nuna? Will she grow to love Karas? Will she recognize her power? Why didn’t Etta focus on her to train? Will Karas be able to overthrow the influence of the Vorund Clan?
  • Nereth was trained by Joldir? What happened after he left to make her stray so far? Why did Nereth not attack Nuna in her dreams?
  • Karas’ enslavement was comparable to the Lord of the Ring’s Wormtongue and King Theoden. 
  • How will Djuri play a role in future installments of this story? Or is he just Rothgar’s conduit to ‘seeing’ what is going on within Reavesburg?
  • I hope that Rothgar travels to other countries (like Mirtan, Beria, or Lagash) where magic is more prevalent.
  • How do you know if someone is occupied by a durath?
  • Is Etta a durath to have lived as long as she has? Is that why she’s so knowledgeable about what Rothgar is going through? Did Blackeyes “recognize” her?
  • You’re the one who comes to me sometimes, in my dreams. You and the pretty lady…” Who is Leif referring to here? Nereth or Nuna?
  • Why wasn’t the durath escaping Dragmall able to enter Thengill? Why did it break when it touched him?
  • I didn’t care for Rothgar’s repeated comments on Damona’s appearance, such as: “​​I had been shocked to see how loosely Damona’s clothes hung from her once full and attractive figure. She was still a beautiful woman, even at forty, though with more grey in her long blonde hair than I remembered.”
  • How are Gautarr and his men doing against Adalrikr’s forces?
  • Will avatars ever be able to return to Valistria?
  • What abilities does Rothgar have with the Sight?
  • How do the runes work? How do you activate them after they’ve been drawn?

Vocabulary Builder: 

Inveigled: to win over by wiles 

Sibilant: having, containing, or producing the sound of or a sound resembling that of the s or the sh in sash

Offal: the waste or by-product of a process 

Ataraxia: calmness untroubled by mental or emotional disquiet


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