City of Bones - Martha Wells

I've read a bunch of novels by Martha Wells, including the first two books of her excellent Raksura series (The Cloud Roads and The Serpent Sea), and have always wondered why she's not an author whose name gets mentioned more - she's a writer who excels at world-building and whose plots and characters are always interesting and nuanced. So, I was hardly surprised when I found myself enjoying City of Bones very much.

 

Our protagonist is Khat, who is a member of a race of people called krismen and we discover that they are the result of genetic engineering done by people wielding magic a long time previously. Khat lives in the city of Charisat and makes a living selling the relics left behind by those magic wielders and also trying to stay alive is quite an effort in a place where his people's bones are literally used for fortune telling. Khat ends up being hired because of his expertise and quickly finds himself in over his head in a scheme where the people he thinks are doing things for the right reason are actually jeopardising the safety of the entire world.

 

What I really liked about this book is the relationship between Khat and Elen, the woman who hires him, which could so easily have become yet another predictable romantic interlude. In City of Bones, however, both Khat and Elen are quite prickly and guarded individuals and continue to act according to their nature. More writers should take account of this, because it feels much more realistic (to me, at least) than throwing characters into a relationship because they 'ought to' be in one.

 

Anyway, it's a solidly-written and enjoyable read and I look forward to continuing to read more from this author - I have a bunch more of her novels yet to read so I'm looking forward to getting round to them...