19 June 2011

27 June 2011–Bone Trilogy: Quest for the Spark bk 1

Bone Trilogy: Quest for the Spark bk. 1
Written by Tom Sniegoski
Illustrations by Jeff Smith
Graphix, 2011
ISBN: 978-0-545-14102-4
$ 10.99

  Twenty years ago, Jeff Smith created three small, humanoid looking creatures with large, bulbous noses called Bones, and dumped them in a land of talking animals, dragons and magic. Smith’s series would go on to be named one of the greatest graphic novels of all time, winning awards and accolades like they were as commonplace as receiving email. In fact, Bone is a series that is very near and dear to my heart, and one that I have shared with my eldest (who incidentally became a massive fan himself). I intend to share it with my other kids when they are old enough to enjoy it, so there’s a good chance I’ll be doing a review of the series sooner or later.

  I feel it prudent to point out right off the bat that this is a novel, as in traditional prose writing, not a graphic novel. Normally, this would preclude the book from review, but due to the source material, and the fact that I chose the material to review, this is one that deserves a nod.

  As a sequel of sorts to the original series, Quest for the Spark bk 1 introduces us to Tom Elm, a 12 year old resident of the Valley, and his best friend (and Bone supporting character) Roderick, a raccoon whose parents had been eaten by Rat Creatures. As the story begins, something sinister is invading the Valley – something that visits Tom in his sleep, and attempts to keep him there. The only thing that saves him is his “lucky rock” around his neck. Waking from his nightmare, Tom spends the day distracted and disturbed by what he witnessed in his dream. The next night, in his dream he wanders into the woods outside his house, only to meet a woman who tells him of a great evil that has awoken – the Nacht. Before she can tell him more, he is attacked, forcing Tom to awake from his dream.  Unwilling to go back to sleep, Tom and Roderick go out to start harvesting turnips, only to stumble into the woods – and the woman in Tom’s dreams.

  The woman, Lorimar, is actually a forest spirit, the last of her kind. Explaining that Tom was chosen by the Dreaming, she relates the story of the Nacht, a dragon that had been a servant of the Lord of Locusts, that had survived the original imprisonment of Mim by escaping into the Dreaming. Now, with the Lord of Locusts destroyed, Nacht seeks to conquer both the Dreaming and the Waking Worlds. After hearing this, Tom ventures back to his house to discover that his family has succumbed to the sleeping sickness (for lack of a better term), in which those affected cannot be roused from slumber.

   Now teamed up with three new Bones (The great explorer Percival Bone, his niece Abbey and nephew Barclay), Randolf, a Veni Yan Warrior, the forest spirit Lorimar, and the fan-favorite  ‘Stupid, Stupid Rat Creatures’, Tom and Roderick must travel across the Valley, seeking the missing shards of the Spark – the only item that stands a chance against the all-consuming evil that is the Nacht.

Pros:  Fans of the original series will thoroughly enjoy another visit to the Valley, as well as seeing their favorite characters again. Sniegoski has managed to successfully translate the feel of Smith’s original series into a prose format, allowing readers to slip into the series comfortably.
Cons: A lot of the enjoyment comes from familiarity with the original series. While it’s not required to read Smith’s Bone series, it greatly enhances the enjoyment of Quest for the Spark. There were points in the book that I personally felt would have been more successfully conveyed had they been illustrated, but that is mostly due to wanting to see more of Smith’s artwork.

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