Polyphonist’s #CBR5 Review #43: Bone #4 – The Dragonslayer by Jeff Smith

Bone_The_DragonslayerIn this book of Bone, we find Thorn, Gran’ma Ben, and Fone Bone travelling to Barrelhaven, and speaking the Inn, the regulars there are slowly changing sides from Lucius to Phoney Bone. On the way to the Inn, Gran’ma gets a bad gitchy (it’s like a paralyzing bad feeling on overdrive…complete with cartoon head bubbles) and they get attached by rat creatures and Kingdok. Kingdok puts a hurt on Gran’ma, which upsets the hell out of Thorn, so she grabs a sword and goes all ninja warrior on him and cuts off one of his arms. GO Thorn! After the battle, Thorn learns more about who she is and what’s happening regarding an uprising with the rat creatures to free the Locust. Thorn gets a bit upset by all this. Understandable. First she finds out she’s a princess, that dragons are real, and now the Locust King’s might be freed…in a ritual that Thorn might be courted for to make happen. She takes off on her own with Fone Bone hot on her heels. They make it to the Inn…after getting through the barricade Phoney had the townspeople had put up.

See, Phoney has now managed to convince the townspeople that dragons are real…and that he’s a dragonslayer. He plays this against their fears, which means they give him lots of stuff to “protect” them. His logic is that since dragons are peaceful, he’ll have an incredibly easy time protecting them and is simply raking in the dough. (Literally in some cases, since the town uses a barter system that includes livestock and food as currency.) Somehow, a random toddler rat creature finds its way into town and Fone and Smiley adopt him (and name him Bartleby…adorable!). They know that rat creatures (no matter how adorable) and people don’t mix, so they come up with a plan to return the baby rat creature to the mountain to his “people.” Meanwhile, the townspeople have decided they want some actual results (re: dead dragon) from the “dragonslayer” they’ve been paying. When Lucius tries to talk sense into them and expose Phoney as living up to his name, the way Phoney turns it back on him is a frustrating yet effective exercise in shaming and manipulation. Phoney concocts a scheme to get out of town an also bring all his new riches with him by saying he’ll go out and slay a dragon, all the while planning to make a break for it and return to Boneville.

Because it’s Phoney, this plan doesn’t go…well, as planned. Things happen, like a dragon showing up and the townspeople urging Phoney to kill him, rat creatures coming to thank Phoney for delivering the red dragon right into their hands (and tied up, to boot!), Thorn getting near her Turning (I’m guessing a coming of age thing where she comes into her powers) and coming to help fight off the rat creatures…and then everybody sees that it looks like the town is one fire because the town is under siege. Oy.

This was a good installment in the Bone series. I loved seeing Kingdok’s arm getting cut off cause i can’t stand kingdok. Meeting the baby rat creature was a definite highlight. I’m glad to see he’s in book 5. Phoney’s infuriating, as usual, and I can’t wait to see him get his comeuppance because he just has to. Seriously. Also, the appearances of the red dragon were quite humorous. I love his snarky, classy aloofness. I picture him being voiced by James Earl Jones were a Bone movie ever to be made. Jeff Smith’s art style continues to amuse and intrigue me and I look forward to the next installment of this wonderful series.

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Polyphonist’s #CBR5 Review #38: Bone #3 – Eyes of the Storm by Jeff Smith

bone-volume-3-eyes-storm-jeff-smith-paperback-cover-artThe third book in the Bone series gets darker, both in tone and literally in overall color of the story. Two of the main rat creatures are in hiding from their leader, Kingdok. Thorn’s having more nightmares and they’re longer and more detailed, giving her the better sense of her childhood, which Gran’ma Ben gets upset about because she subscribes to the Ignorance is Protected Bliss school of thought. The displaced Bones find themselves split up soon into the book. Smiley and Phoney go with Lucius into town to help work off the damage they did during the great cow race, and Fone decide to stay with Thorn. And therein the darkness begins.

Lucius and the boys get attacked by a herd of rat creatures on the road, Gran’ma Ben learns that Thorn has discovered meaning in her dreams, they get attacked by some rat creatures in the dark, and Thorn learns that she is actually a royal descendant. We learn that the mysterious hooded leader of all rat creatures answers to a strange dark matter, Lucius and Phoney make a wager about the loyalty of Lucius’ patrons and who can run a bar better. And lastly, Gran’ma Ben receives word that things have changed and they need to leave. So Thorn, Gran’ma Ben, and Fone pack up and set out to end book 3.

While this book gets a bit darker, it’s still by turns compelling and comical, and I really want to know what’s going on with the rat creatures and the hooded person, not to mention the nebulous, sentient blob. Curious, too, to see how things go down in the bar as it looked like the tide was turning for Phoney last we saw. And lastly, I can’t wait to see where Gran’ma Ben, Thorn, and Fone are headed. This story, like the others before it, is charming, mysterious, fun, and even when it gets dark, it’s still brimming with joy.

Polyphonist’s #CBR5 Review #37: Bone #2 – The Great Cow Race by Jeff Smith

Bone The Great Cow Race scThe second installment of the Bone series finds all of the Bones, Thorn, Gran’ma Ben, and Lucius back in town to get ready for the titular Great Cow Race. Fone Bone is incredibly happy that he gets time with Thorn, until she says she’s in the market for honey…and a cute boy. It’s heartbreaking to see Fone Bone’s cartoon heart bubble actually break and therein is part of the magic of Jeff Smith’s characters, drawing, and writing. I just love these characters, even the ones love to hate, like Phoney Bone…

…Who is up to his usual tricks in this book, trying to fix the results of the Great Cow Race so he can walk off with all the winnings. He works pretty damn hard to get the townspeople to think that Gran’ma Ben is past her prime so people won’t bet on her but instead on the mysterious mystery cow (PSmiley Bone in a comically terrible cow costume). This way, when HE bets on her, he gets all the winnings. He wants Lucius to get in on the action by betting his bar so Phoney can win that, too, but the joke is on him when Lucius gets wind of what’s going on but does bet his bar…on Gran’ma Ben. (Phoney’s jaw hitting the counter of his makeshift bet booth is fantastic!)

Meanwhile, we’re learning more about Thorn’s dreams and that they’re more than likely based on the past. Also, that when she was a little girl, she drew the map the Bones found. With one of my favorite lines in the series so far (“Hello, small mammal.”), the rat creatures find Fone Bone writing “poetries” to Thorn and move to capture him. Fone Bone runs, and in the process, more rat creatures join in the chase and eventually the cows and the rats make one huge mammal melange of chaos. Through all the adversity, guess who wins the race? Gran’ma Ben, bitches!

All in all, it was an enjoyable installment in the Bone series and I heartily recommend it to anyone looking for a solid story, excellent art, and a good dose of humor throughout. Well, you know, anyone who hasn’t read it yet.

Polyphonist’s #CBR5 Review #34: Bone #1 – Out From Boneville by Jeff Smith

bone-out-from-boneville-jeff-smithI read this graphic novel years ago and remember enjoying it, but I never finished the whole series. Since I still have a dozen or so books to read and review for this year’s Cannonball Read, I think this is the perfect time to read the series!

Starting with number 1, Out From Boneville, this series is so approachable for both kids and adults. The art style is beautifully playful and the writing is charming, funny, and believable. Well, believable for a world that has rat creatures that eat quiche, an aloof dragon, and an old woman who races cows (meaning she runs on foot in a race with the cows)…and wins. Oh, and these cute little bulby guys of the Bone species. They’re kind of like humans, but require fewer clothes to stay proper.

In the first book, we learn that Fone Bone and his cousins, Phoney Bone and Smiley Bone were run out of Boneville (literally) because Phoney Bone very much lives up to his first name and swindled most if not all of their town. An angry mob ensued, leaving the three bones lost in the forest. Fone Bone gets separated from his cousins and then gets hit by a freak unilateral layer of snow. This keeps him in the forest longer than he’d hoped, but since he’s an adorable little scamp of a Bone, he’s made friends with the possums and her babies and a leaf bug. The leaf bug Ted tells Fone he needs to find Thorn because she’s smart and can help him. He eventually does find Thorn (and falls in adorable interspecies love with her) but she’s riding some seriously repressed memories and doesn’t believe in things like dragons. Even though she was kinda raised by them. Partly.

Anyway, Thorn realizes she can’t help Fone on her own and suggests that maybe her Grandma Rose can help, as soon as she gets back from town. (Which happens to be where Smiley.) Phoney Bone gets led to Thorn’s house, too, and Fone and Phoney have a semi reunion, but realize they need to figure out how to get home. And they need to find Smiley to do that. Grandma suggests a trip into town, and besides, she’s got a cow race to run!

Meanwhile, the rat creatures and their grand hooded evil dude/tte are after Phoney but I (and he) have no clue why. They try to ambush Grandma Rose and Thorn’s house but Grandma Rose kicks some serious rat creature ass. The dragon’s involved in all of this, so is a map to somewhere mysterious, and a bunch of unanswered questions. Since there are 8 other books in the series, I have a feeling I might not get the answer all that soon. That’s okay; totally enjoyable read with a few laugh-out-loud moments. Can’t wait to get to the next one!