The Bone Palace by Amanda Downum

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Friday, Jun 10, 2011

Although a sequel to The Drowning City, The Bone Palace stands alone quite well. It's a dark, political, high fantasy mystery told from two perspectives: Crown Investigator and necromancer Isyllt Iskaldur; and the crown prince's mistress, Savedra Severos.

A prostitute has turned up dead, her throat slit. Sad, but hardly uncommon. The only thing that draws this to Isyllt's attention is that she was found carrying a royal treasure, and the scandal needs to be resolved before word can reach the king. The investigation leads Isyllt into the deep underground to the vrykoloi, vampiric demons, and into an odd partnership with the vrykolos Spider. She knows it's a bad idea, but bad ideas seem to be her stock in trade, lately.

Savedra, for her part, is deliriously in love with Prince Nikos, and surprisingly fond of his wife, Ashlin, even going so far as to serve as confidante and bodyguard—much to the warrior princess' dismay. Being intimately tied to the crown as she is, while Isyllt roams the streets and tunnels of the city, Vedra investigates the twisty politics of the nobles, including those of her own family. Neither of them could anticipate the betrayals revealed when they uncover both buried history and an enraged demon out for blood.

Both books in the series (and, presumably, the forthcoming sequel, The Kingdoms of Dust) are marked by intensive world-building, political machinations, and strong female characters. This is a book for the people who get a bit tired of the testosterone of George R. R. Martin and don't feel like the romantic bent of Kim Harrison.

Written by Rachel C.