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Brood of Bones by A.E. Marling
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Brood of Bones

by A.E. Marling

Other authors: Eva Soulu (Cover artist)

Series: Enchantress (1)

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Brood of Bones is a self published fantasy novel available for free on Amazon. In short, Brood of Bones is about Hiresha, a narcoleptic enchantress who’s returned to her hometown only to find that all the women there are mysteriously pregnant. It’s a fun story that combines fantasy and mystery with flashes of humor.

Enchantress Hiresha left her home city of Morimound many years ago when she first began her training as an enchantress. She had not wanted to return before finding a cure for her constant sleepiness. However, she has been called upon by the city’s Flawless due to a plague of pregnancies afflicting all woman older than twelve, including the city’s grandmothers. At first dubious as to whether or not some elaborate prank is being played upon her, Hiresha eventually begins to investigate the cause of the mysterious pregnancies. If she cannot find it, many women, especially the young and the old, will die in the coming months.

Hiresha’s probably my favorite thing about the book. She’s a powerful enchantress with good intentions, yet she is very flawed. She insists on following the rules of propriety but she is often unaware of when she has inadvertently offended someone, despite her skill at reading facial expressions. She constructs elaborate fantasies about a future life of marriage and children, to the point that she builds a mansion with specific rooms for all of her yet unborn children. She hates her constant sleepiness and believes that it prevents her from fulfilling her hopes for the future, but it is also what gives her such power as an enchantress, as enchantresses can work magic only in their dreams. She’s powerful, confident, intelligent, brave and flawed, a fascinating and different sort of protagonist.

While I didn’t find any of the other characters as intriguing as Hiresha, they were for the most part enjoyable. I particularly liked Hiresha’s banter with Maid Janny, her almost constant companion. Janny’s unafraid to voice criticism, and this leads to some funny exchanges.

“Maid Janny, it is well that you are unattractive, or you would be entirely insufferable.”

“It is well you’re rich. Or so would you.”

The world building of Brood of Bones was also impressive. When Hiresha sleeps, she enters her dream laboratory, where she feels awake and alert. In her laboratory are all the tools she needs to craft her spells, mostly in the form of multi-colored gems. There is never any lengthy exposition as to how the magic works, but you are able to deduce and understand it naturally.

Brood of Bones does have its flaws. The mystery section of the plot was a bit slow to take off, and I would have appreciated not having yet another rapey villain. On the whole however, I did enjoy Brood of Bones and would recommend it to people looking for a fun, different sort of fantasy novel.

Originally posted on The Illustrated Page. ( )
1 vote pwaites | Oct 4, 2015 |
Newcomer A. E. Marling does a bang-up job with this novel about a magic-wielder afflicted with a sleeping disorder. Her drowsiness does not equate boredom for the reader. On the contrary, "Brood of Bones" is a fantasy whodunnit, with Enchantress Hiresha cast in the role of arcane detective. The setting and the magic are skillfully portrayed; the characters are complex and not always predictable. Hiresha struggles not only with her sleeping problem, but with the past that has formed her; her position is her armor and her purpose. Maid Janny is a gem of irreverence, while the Lord of the Feasts is both charming and terrible. The deposed arbiter of the city is exasperating at the same time she is delightful, and the two city leaders (a pair of priests representing different deities) are not what they might seem. I could wish the bodyguard were better developed, but it is a small complaint. The story is told from Hiresha's point of view, depicting her insecurities and fears in a very personal, very *human* way embroidered with the mores of her particular society. I'd have given this book 5 stars but for an unfortunate (though not crippling) tendency toward repetition of information, and I am looking forward to Marling's next book.
( )
  RobinLythgoe | Jul 6, 2015 |
I found this while browsing through freebies. I liked the cover, but the description made the book sound like a train wreck. I admit, I downloaded it mostly out of morbid curiosity.

Hiresha is an Elder Enchantress, a woman who possesses powerful magic but can only use it in her sleep. Her sleeping disorder gives her great power as an enchantress but prevents her from achieving the life she most wants, that of a wife and mother. At the request of Sri the Flawless, she returns to Morimound, the city of her birth, only to discover that something awful has happened. Despite being in her eighties, Sri the Once Flawless is now pregnant. Not only that, so is every other woman and girl age 12 and up.

The city is in turmoil. Some, like Abwar, the Priest of the Ever Always, declare the pregnancies to be a divine gift. Others beat the women and girls, call them sluts, and feed them poisons to try to purge them of their pregnancies. As Hiresha begins her investigation, she learns horrifying things about the fetuses and finds herself having to make choices that could potentially bring even greater harm to the citizens of Morimound.

I wasn't sure, going in, how well the book's premise would work for me. It sounded incredibly bizarre. Marling managed to make it work, although I had to take breaks several times. The way people treated the women and girls was almost uniformly awful, the fetuses themselves were little abominations, and the villain was vile.

The things I turned out to dislike the most about this book were Marling's writing and Hiresha's drowsiness. I haven't been able to put into words what it is about Marling's writing that doesn't work for me, but Hiresha's drowsiness had a tendency to make her waking world feel surreal. She had trouble staying focused, and her clothing didn't help – in addition to wearing six dresses, she had 21 more trailing behind her, plus a golden hump strapped to her back. She moved with the aid of a cane, Janny, her maid, and Deepmand, her bodyguard. Even then, she was always one slight misstep away from landing on her face or one moment away from sweating herself into dehydration. The hump and gowns did turn out to be useful, but I'm not sure they were worth the 200+ pages they spent hampering her movements.

This book was at its best when Hiresha was asleep or in the presence of the Lord of the Feast. Sleep allowed Hiresha to enter her dream laboratory, where she could replay her memories and analyze them in the most minute detail, noting microexpressions and other things that her sluggish waking mind missed. Sleep also gave Hiresha access to her magic, which could heal terrible wounds, regrow limbs, and enchant objects and clothing. I thought that the benefits and drawbacks of her magic were well-balanced and nicely done.

Being with the Lord of the Feast had similar effects on Hiresha. Something about him (maybe instinctual self-preservation?) flooded Hiresha's system with adrenaline, which allowed her to observe the world at the same level as when she was asleep. Hiresha's conversations with him were usually a lot of fun. Unfortunately, he didn't show up until about halfway through the book. Also, he brought with him a discomfiting possible romantic subplot. He was way too obviously Hiresha's future tragic and dangerous vampire boyfriend (well, not a vampire in the traditional sense – he could create and feed upon fear – but close).

I haven't decided yet whether I'm going to continue reading this series.

Rating Note:

During the first half of this book, I disliked Marling's writing so much that I thought this would be a 2-star read. The pace picked up in the second half, and the Lord of the Feast really did make things better, leaving me torn between 2.5 stars and 3. I settled on 3 because, in the end, I can't decide whether I liked or disliked Brood of Bones.

(Original review, with read-alikes and watch-alikes, posted on A Library Girl's Familiar Diversions.) ( )
  Familiar_Diversions | Jan 31, 2015 |
I was pleasantly surprised with this one. Reading the summary left some doubts but it was actually well written with a plausible story line and unique flaws in the main character. I was able to visualize locations, scenes, and characters easily without having to wade through endless descriptions or unnecessary dialogue. Nicely done easy read.


Thank you to the author for his generosity in providing a free ebook. This in no way affected my review. ( )
  Jenn.S | Sep 25, 2013 |
Newcomer A. E. Marling does a bang-up job with this novel about a magic-wielder afflicted with a sleeping disorder. Her drowsiness does not equate boredom for the reader. On the contrary, "Brood of Bones" is a fantasy whodunnit, with Enchantress Hiresha cast in the role of arcane detective. The setting and the magic are skillfully portrayed; the characters are complex and not always predictable. Hiresha struggles not only with her sleeping problem, but with the past that has formed her; her position is her armor and her purpose. Maid Janny is a gem of irreverence, while the Lord of the Feasts is both charming and terrible. The deposed arbiter of the city is exasperating at the same time she is delightful, and the two city leaders (a pair of priests representing different deities) are not what they might seem. I could wish the bodyguard were better developed, but it is a small complaint. The story is told from Hiresha's point of view, depicting her insecurities and fears in a very personal, very *human* way embroidered with the mores of her particular society. I am looking forward to Marling's next book. ( )
  RobinLythgoe | Oct 2, 2012 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
A.E. Marlingprimary authorall editionscalculated
Soulu, EvaCover artistsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
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I never learned the knack for waking. Consciousness hung over me like a sodden rag, weighing on my eyelids and muffling my ears, yet even my stifled senses did not spare me the indignity of hearing my name screamed across a public place.
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One unexpected pregnancy is a drama; fifty thousand is citywide hysteria.

Cursed with endless drowsiness, Enchantress Hiresha sleeps more than she lives. Since she never has had a chance to raise a family, she sometimes feels like every woman is pregnant except for her.  This time, she is right. From virgin to grandmother, all the women in her city have conceived.

A lurking sorcerer drains power from the unnatural pregnancies, and Hiresha must track him by his magic.  Unfortunately, her cultured education in enchantment ill equips her to understand his spellcraft, which is decidedly less than proper.  The only person uncivilized enough to help is the Lord of the Feast, a dangerous yet charming illusionist.  Associating with him may imperil Hiresha's city, yet refusing his help will allow the sorcerer to leech godlike power from the mass births.

From the Author

"If Jane Austen collaborated with H.P. Lovecraft to write a dark fantasy, the resulting creation might bear a striking resemblance to A.E. Marling's Brood of Bones." - Dr. Frankenstein

"The protagonist is a cross between Sherlock Holmes and Liz Lemon, though decidedly better dressed." - Prof. Moriarty

"So good I ate my hat!" - Mad Hatter

[retrieved 6/1/2014 from Amazon.com]
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