Horizon (Bone Universe book 3) by Fran Wilde (book review).

This third book, ‘Horizon’ follows on from the second ‘Cloudbound’ book in her Bone Universe trilogy by Fran Wilde.

Kirit, Nat, Wik and Ciel are on the ground. They’ve discovered that their living city is going to die soon. They try to keep feeding their city to keep it alive, while trying to find a way to get back up in to the sky to warn everyone. Can they find a way back to their city? Can they get everyone out of the city before it collapses? Can they find a new home on the ground?

Meanwhile, Macal is still in the city above, trying to maintain peace. Fighting between towers has become such an issue, that many towers are short of supplies. Can Macal help maintain peace and order and protect his city?

The plot twist at the end of ‘Cloudbound,’ where Kirit and Nat end up on the ground and find out that the city is alive is absolutely fantastic. I know that’s a comment about ‘Cloudbound’, but I couldn’t say it in the last review, because it would have been a massive spoiler, so I’m saying it now. But aside from being one of the best dystopian plot twists I’ve read, it was followed up well in this book.

A lot of ‘Horizon’ is actually spent exploring the ground. The world-building continues to be sophisticated and engaging. Wilde does introduce a lot of new world, but this is integrated in to the story through the characters exploring the world, which works very well. Similarly, the concept of cities as creatures works extremely well, especially once they start exploring and come across younger cities.

My main criticism is that because so much of the plot is spent on exploration, this leaves less time for the establishment of the new community. There is a real issue with certain exploratory parts of the plot being quite long and other plot points being resolved very quickly, in an unrealistic way. Additionally, the ending was quite rushed.

Something that’s still strong in this book is the community dynamic. The fighting and divides definitely put strains on the community, something that Wilde takes quite a bit of time to explore.

Despite the divisions, many of the characters do genuinely care about the community as a whole. Quite a bit of time is put in to thinking about how all members of society can be evacuated by using really innovative methods to get people safely to the ground. In fact, it would have been nice if the execution of the evacuation would have been given more page time. Djon, the character who invents most of the stuff that they use to try to save people, really doesn’t get enough page time.

Speaking of characterisation, ‘Horizon’ has three viewpoint characters: Kirit who was our viewpoint character in book 1, ‘Updraft’, Nat who was our view point character in ‘Cloudbound’ and Macal, who has been a secondary character in the series so far.

This works really well for the story because the reader is able to find out what’s going on in three different places simultaneously. It is nice having Kirit’s perspective again. The introduction of Macal as a main character helped to keep the book engaging, because the reader is able to get to know him and his family and friends better.

I still find Nat quite infuriating in terms of his inability to look at broader contexts and see other peoples’ perspectives but, in this book, the situations in which this occurs make less sense.

In terms of characterisation, there is an even wider cast of characters, but we definitely pay for that way too much in terms of depth of characterisation.

Overall, I think this is a fairly good end to a series. It’s definitely worth a read if you’ve enjoyed the other two books and even if you didn’t really enjoy ‘Cloudbound’, because it’s quite different.

Rebecca Thorne

May 2019

(pub: TOR/Forge, 2019. 416 page hardback. Price: $16.39 (US), £13.99 (UK). ISBN: 978-0-76537-788-3. Enlarged paperback price: $17.99 (US))

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