Crown, 2014 307 pgs
Thrones & Bones Series #1
Seeped in Norse culture and mythology, alternating points of view tell the stories of Karn and Thianna. Karn is a Norronir boy, meant to inherit his family's farm. He is interested only in playing the game Throne and Bones and looking for ways to escape farm life. Thianna is a mountain girl living in a community of giants, a child of mixed heritage with a giant father and a human mother, now passed away. The two meet at a trading post and a friendship based on convenience is formed. Karn's uncle tricks him into a near-death battle with the undead, where his father appears to be killed trying to protect him. Karn runs away in shame, meeting up with Thianna. Thianna has also run away to escape the human flying-beast riding warriors chasing her to retrieve a magical item formally belonging to her mother. The two friends have many adventure outrunning their enemies, encountering dragons, and facing inner demons. Eventually a big show-down forces Thainna and Karn to stand up to their foes. Karn must play the Thrones and Bones game of his life to save his father and defeat his evil uncle and Thianna must embrace her mother's legacy and learn to harness her beast controlling gifts. The book ends with the two friends parting ways, buts hints that a new adventure awaits.
Thanks to the popularity of the Percy Jackson books, mythology based fiction has exploded. Thrones and Bones is a natural "what to read next" for Percy Jackson fans. Anders chooses to explore the world of the ancient Vikings. The book is true to its time and setting. I felt magically transported to this world; I could practically feel the cold air as I was reading. The characters were both well developed and distinctive. It was great having both a boy and a girl, making the book an accessible read for both. As more and more of America's children are multiracial, I love that Thianna is part giant/part human. She eventually embraces the gifts of both of her heritages and overcomes the prejudice hurled at her from an ignorant few. The game Thrones and Bones is somewhat of a cross between chess and Dungeons and Dragons and Anders offers the rules in the back of the book. The title of the series led me to believe the story would be a Game of Thrones rip-off for kids. It isn't, but I'm sure the series title was intentional to give the book some instant recognition. Vikings are brave, magical and very interesting. More readable for young people than Nancy Farmer's Sea of Trolls (my favorite Viking fantasy) this book will find an audience. This is not an easy read, but will be enjoyed by smart kids who enjoy mythological fantasy.