About Of Bone and Thunder

A land of thick jungle and mist-swirled mountains. An enemy moving unseen beneath the lush canopy. The growing threat of thaumics—a magic wielded by few that threatens to destabilize all. The youth of a kingdom sent to fight in a faraway hell while back home, discord and disillusionment reign…

Fantasy author Chris Evans masterfully pushes the boundaries of the genre in his brilliant, groundbreaking new epic, a unique and penetrating vision channeling the cultural upheaval, racial animus, and wholesale destruction of the Vietnam War. Here, in the distant nation of Luitox, which is wracked by rebellion, thaumic users copilot mammoth armored dragons alongside fliers who do not trust their strange methods. Warriors trained in crossbow, stealth, and catapult are plunged into sudden chaotic battles with the mysterious Forest Collective, an elusive enemy with a powerful magic of its own. And the Kingdom’s most downtrodden citizens, only recently granted equality, fight for the dignity they were supposed to have won at home while questioning who the real enemy is.

Of Bone and Thunder is the story of Thaum Jawn Rathim, whose idealized view of the war clashes with its harsh realities and his realization that victory may cost him everything…of conscripted soldier Carny, awash in a hallucinogenic haze of fear and anger…of Breeze, the red-haired graduate from the Royal Academy of Thaumology, certain she can transform the very nature of warfare—if only she can win the trust of the man holding her fate in his hands…and of Ugen Listowk, a veteran crossbowman who finds solace in the darkest shadows of the jungle and whose greatest fear is failing the men he leads into battle.

Plunging deep into the heart of a moral and mortal darkness, these reluctant soldiers struggle for survival and for meaning amid a blazing drama of blood and magic. They will duel a ghostly enemy, fight to understand their roles in a sprawling maelstrom, and ultimately wage the war their way—not for glory or the Kingdom, but for one another.


An Amazon October 2014 Best Science Fiction and Fantasy Books Pick

“New military fantasy—imagine the Vietnam War fought with medieval weaponry, magic and dragons. – Evans’ scenario is vividly portrayed…Memorable and deeply satisfying—a fitting tribute to those who serve.”
—Kirkus Reviews (October 1st, 2014 issue)

“OF BONE AND THUNDER is one of the few books which have blown me away. An interweaving of Vietnam combat and scenery with themes that are more commonly found in fantasy made this book both original and captivating. Different races, magic, dragons and medieval weaponry made for an every turn of the page more enjoyable than the previous…The characters within the book are well defined, each fascinating, with their own personalities, flaws and beliefs regarding the war…From action scenes to epic battles, soaring through the air on Rags/dragons or simply scouting the jungles of the enemies’ native lands; the detail with which Evans writes is so captivating and vividly descriptive, it engulfs the reader and gave me an almost cinematic experience. It would be awesome to see this turned into a movie. A fascinating story narrated from the viewpoints of several service men with different roles within the war against the “Slyts”. An incredible interlacing of their experiences which all lead to the conclusion and an action packed, heroic and emotional ending. A compelling story of courage, leadership and sacrifice. Highly recommended for lovers of fantasy and military fiction.”
—Book Bloke

“Brilliant! The literary world needs more historical fantasy like this. The moments when you see the parallels to the Vietnam War are breathtaking! The characters are engaging, the action is thrilling, and the writing is beautiful. I reread entire sections just for the pleasure of those gorgeous descriptions. I could feel the sweltering heat and the fear of creeping through a jungle hiding your enemies. More, please!”
—Book Dates: My Love Letters to Books

“Fantasy author, Evans takes a different tack with this novel set during the Vietnam War. Part historical fiction, part fantasy, the story centers on s group of soldiers caught up in a conflict they don’t understand and are little able to cope with. When they hear wings from above, is it from an aircraft or something more…..magical. A darkly beautiful novel unlike anything I have ever read.”

“What did I love? The scenery and the mixing of magic, dragons, weaponry that deserve a fantasy novel of their own. Our most captivating characters…kept me reading…the scenes were well written and imaginative. I think I did fly on a dragon while reading this, and I did that crazy mind-meld thing that Breeze and Vorly did using the crystals… OF BONE AND THUNDER is a great read…Evans combines the best of fantasy and military fiction.”
—Secret Life of a Townie

“What a great and interesting way to educate about a turbulent time in our world’s history… I thoroughly enjoyed seeing the parallels in this book, and found myself going back to read about the Vietnam War to find even more parallels. This is a history lesson wrapped up in a well written military fantasy book… The dialogue was clever and thought provoking…There were also humorous moments dropped in, emphasizing the camaraderie between the characters, and making me laugh out loud. The battle scenes were full of action and well executed, and the world was intriguing. This is a talented author, who I would love to see more from. Recommended for fans of history that want something a little different.”
—Kaora’s Corner

“OF BONE AND THUNDER channels Full Metal Jacket into a gritty sword and sorcery novel. The Vietnam War inspiration is unmistakable in the setting…There is nothing romantic about this war, regardless of what propaganda is being fed to the citizens at home. The jungle is unforgiving, the weaponry indiscriminately fatal. The enemy is made as faceless as possible, since attacks take out non-combatants along with combatants. A “win” is more likely to mean that they didn’t all die, and managed to take out some of the enemy. OF BONE AND THUNDER develops into a compelling story about lives caught up in a brutal war and the determination of those trying to survive.”
—Libromancer’s Apprentice

“Absolutely fantastic read. Loved the parallels between War in Vietnam and Fantasy. The characters were really engaging and made for a great story, good to feel so many points of war all at the same time. Utterly brilliant. I also liked the way the rags were more part of the story than the riders. Loved it.”
—Sean Reilly, Reviewer

“OF BONE AND THUNDER shows us that whether you are bearing down into the jungle on a helicopter or on a dragon, war is war. And war is horrific. All too often epic fantasy glorifies war. Noble kings, strapping swordsman, brave damsels, and a host of elves, dwarfs and what not ready to be friend or foe. Evans takes these stock characters and breathes into them a reality almost unbearable to imagine. In Evans’ world infantrymen are replaced by archers, helicopters and fighter planes by dragons, nurses with wizards, and intelligence agents by a group known as “thaums”. The setting is eerily similar to the Vietnam War as all groups converge to fight an enemy known as the “slyts” to claim a bit of land deemed important by The Kingdom. Sex, drugs, despair, hope, and boredom run rampant as we see the characters struggle to just stay alive. There are no shining glories or evils here, only the small everyday atrocities and victories that war affords them. The author shoves aside all glamour and takes us deep into the front lines in a way Lord of the Rings could never imagine.”
—The Territories

“The literary world needs more historical fantasy like this.”
—Donde Alcaba el Infinito

“This book was absolutely amazing, though I do believe the comparison to Lord of the Rings is a bit misleading. Whereas Lord of the Rings focuses on the macro image of war and the struggle between good and evil, Of Bone and Thunder focuses on war at the micro level, taking a look at the toll it takes on the participants who have little time to sit and philosophize over the morality of war or good and evil as they try to survive. It is much more Apocalypse Now, mixed with hints of Heart of Darkness. The parallel to the Vietnam War is overwhelming, but presented with enough fantastical elements that it doesn’t stray out of the fantasy genre and into purely war and military fiction. Weapons are traditional, without a single firearm. There are wizards and dragons and elementalists/magicians with the ability to manipulate energies (called thaums.) Dragons supply air travel to the troops and firepower from the air.

Readers are thrust into the middle of a war that should have been won ages ago, according to main public of the Kingdom. We meet solider Carnan “Carny” Qillibrin, a crossbowman desperate to leave the jungle and beginning to tire of the war. He and his fellow soldiers have been climbing through the mountainside jungle in search of the enemy, natives of Luitox whom the soldiers call Slyts. We follow his unit through the war and through their losses. It feels frighteningly real and Evans did an amazing job capturing the feelings of anger, futility, and despondency, but also the sense of camaraderie and responsibility that begins to form between completely people from completely different upbringings due to battle. The soldiers vary from illiterate farmers, to bards, to killers, to simple villagers and religious zealots, yet they each play a vital role in their unit, the war, and the story itself. There’s Wraith, the expert killer who might not be a good soldier, but is an expert at tracking prey and taking them out quickly and quietly. The stereotypical soldier, Big Hog, who cannot read but is a man of the earth, able to follow directions, inspire others, offer comic relief, and still maintain enough faith and hope that the war will end soon and he will make it back home to his farm. Above all, we have Carny, the protagonist of the unit and the embodiment of the everyman, a poor villager who was thrust into a war because he had nothing else going for him in life. A boy who fights because to quit would mean death and when faced with the grim truths of war in reality, as opposed to war in propaganda, turns to local narcotics to numb himself. Read more…