February 21, 2009

Review: Old Man's Cave by Jeff Smith

Old Man's Cave is the sixth book in the Bone series by Smith and marks the end of the second trilogy. The summary assumes you've read the other books in the series. If you haven't, you may want to skip to my thoughts.

My Summary: As the story begins, Smiley and Fone Bone are lost in the woods trying to make their way back to the valley after having escaped Rock Jaw. Thorn, Phoney, and a small group of villagers are trying to evade a band of rat creatures. The rest of the villagers are holed up in Old Man's Cave under the leadership of Gran'ma Ben.

After they manage to hide from their enemies, Thorn's group is approached by four Veni Yan warriors, who pledge their allegiance to the young woman and beg her to hurry to the cave to aid Gran'ma. Thorn doesn't know what to do: She wants to find Fone, and she doesn't know if she can trust her grandmother. In the middle of the night, she leaves her friends to search for the missing Bones. The others find their way to the cave.

Each side now prepares for battle. The villagers realize they'll be outnumbered by the rat creatures, the Hooded One begins to gather in its allies, and Thorn's dreams intensify. Who can be trusted? Is Gran'ma who she says she is? Why was Lucius talking to the enemy? Will the villagers turn Phoney over for sacrifice? And just who is the Hooded One?

My Thoughts: In Old Man's Cave, we learn some of the deeper legends of the valley people and several mysteries are explained. As we begin to question the motives and loyalties of characters we were once sure of, we also begin to better understand characters we once thought were shallow. Thorn is coming into her own and is no longer under the thumb of her grandmother. Meanwhile, Fone's dreams are beginning to reveal his bigger role in the valley's fate.

This entry in the Bone series is intense. It is not obvious how the various story lines are going to converge. Like many complex fantasy series, Bone encompasses several cultures and groups, each with its own desires; few characters are all good or all bad. Although the many layers of the saga are more sharply defined in this book, we don't yet have a clear sense of how the series will end.

The quality of the artwork is sustained in this volume. And I'm particularly taken with how the events of the story have changed the look of the characters. Some individuals are filled with weariness and sorrow; others stand tall with newfound strength.

This review is cross-posted to my blog Beth Fish Reads.

Published by Scholastic, 2007
ISBN-13: 9780439706353
Rating: B+

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