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Napier's Bones Paperback – March 15, 2011

3.4 out of 5 stars 13 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Murphy (Wasps at the Speed of Sound) introduces some fascinating ideas, but undercuts them with info-dumping and a muddled ending. Dom has the ability to see and control numbers. After running from a desert confrontation between two other numerates, he ends up in a small Utah town with an adjunct spirit called Billy riding along in his head. Along with a raw numerate named Jenna, Dom and Billy head north while avoiding their foes. The magic system itself is fascinating, if dubious at times, but the lengthy explanations often slow the story down. The final 50 pages then turn into a race to cram too much action into a sloppy and chaotic ending. Murphy's nifty ideas might be enough to sustain the plot for some readers, but few will come away wholly satisfied. (Apr.)
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 300 pages
  • Publisher: ChiZine Publications (March 15, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1926851099
  • ISBN-13: 978-1926851099
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #242,828 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Born in Nova Scotia, raised in Edmonton, Alberta, and followed by stints in Logan, Utah and Prince George, BC, Derryl Murphy now lives in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan with his wife and two sons. When he isn't writing, Derryl referees and coaches soccer, and continuing the soccer theme cheers on his boys as they play.

His first short story, "Father Time," appeared in Tesseracts 4 in 1992. Since then, he's sold numerous stories to magazines and anthologies. In 2005 his first book, Wasps at the Speed of Sound, came out from Prime Books. A collection of ecological science fiction stories, it holds ten reprints and one original short story. In 2009, Derryl co-wrote Cast a Cold Eye with William Shunn, a novella of ghosts and the Spanish flu which was released by PS Publishing. He has been nominated three times for Canada's Aurora Award, once for a science fiction review column he once wrote, once for his short story "Body Solar," and once for "Mayfly," a short story he co-wrote with Peter Watts.

Derryl's newest book is the novel Napier's Bones, released in March of 2011 by ChiZine Publications. A mathematical dark fantasy/suspense thriller, the novel has been called a "surprising and all too rare treat."

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
I was skeptical about reading this book. The blurb about it advertised math as some sort of positive thing, a math mystery. I am the complete opposite of math-illogical, unreasonable and I have serious trouble with anything involving numbers. I often confuse phone numbers, birth days and I am one of a handful of women who occasionally forget their own anniversary (the 3rd or the 4th).

But, I love mysteries so I forged ahead.

I should have listened to my first instinct.

The initial part of the book involves a young man named Dom who can control numbers as it they are some sort of magic surrounding him, surrounding all of us. And, I love the concept! How unique. But, I just couldn't see it. I couldn't visualize these patterns and numbers the author kept referring to.

Dom is on the hunt for a mystical historical object (which is not clearly described until the latter part of the book) and he is being hunted by some sort of mystical creature that wants said object. Along the way, Dom is aided by a spirit of some great math renown and a girl who has an untamed math magical potential. They are later helped by giant creatures of the earth, ancient beings created by numbers.

If that description has your head reeling, don't even attempt to read this book. If you were doing advanced algebraic problems in your head waiting for me to get to the point, buy the book now!

While I did struggle with some of the concepts in the book, I was very intrigued by the idea of John Napier and Napier 's bones and the adventure of capturing such a piece of mystical history. It did have me running to the computer to do some research. That part of the book, the last half, was an adventure I enjoyed very much.
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Format: Paperback
INTRODUCTION: Napier's Bones is a novel that attracted my attention for two reasons: first as being published by Chi-Zine which so far never put a book out that "felt for me" and disappointed; second the blurb is irresistible for someone who grew up with Martin Gardner's superb popular math books as huge favorites, including the irresistible Dr. Matrix, numerologist of world fame whose exploits were always fun to read, not to speak of making one wonder at the human ingenuity in finding the most abstruse patterns everywhere.

"What if, in a world where mathematics could be magic, the thing you desired most was also trying to kill you?

Dom is a numerate, someone able to see and control numbers and use them as a form of magic. While seeking a mathematical item of immense power that has only been whispered about, it all goes south for Dom, and he finds himself on the run across three countries on two continents, with two unlikely companions in tow and a numerate of unfathomable strength hot on his tail. Along the way are giant creatures of stone and earth, statues come alive, numerical wonders cast over hundreds of years, and the very real possibility that he won't make it out of this alive. And both of his companions have secrets so deep that even they aren't aware of them, and one of those secrets could make for a seismic shift in how Dom and all other numerates see and interact with the world."

OVERVIEW/ANALYSIS: "Napier's Bones" is a very entertaining and fast moving read set in a world in which numerology is power at least for the people who can sense and manipulate numbers and their patterns; the more unusual the patterns and artifacts associated with them, the more power they give to the "numerates" that possess them.
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Format: Paperback
Numerology takes on a quest. In a world where numbers contain magical properties, certain people possess varying talents in seeing and manipulating numbers in the air or within objects for protection, to cause violence, or to dupe.

A numerate's quest is to find mojos, objects packed with special numerical properties, and to use these for his own advantage. Dom, a numerate, having survived a fight against 2 other numerates in a desert, finds himself in a small town with Billy, a sort of spirit who had taken up residence in his body. With more questions than available answers, Dom meets a young numerate, Jenna, who tries to learn how to manipulate the numbers.

But there appears to be an unknown and powerful numerate determined to seek out and destroy Dom, and he is kept running to stay one or two steps ahead of this dark shadow. Things start getting a little wild at about the half way point in the book and the thrilling pace picks up, when the trio are met by an ex-communicated numerate priest who try to explain the quest they are on, a group of numbers that are able to group together to form a semi-solid shape that has the ability to speak, think and plan, Scottish giants, and familials that lead them to a series of mojos needed to thwart the enemy.

It's a pretty interesting story, but the pace is rather uneven, and after three quarters of the way through, there is too much the author appears to want to cram into the ending, making for a rather sloppy and confusing race to the finish line.
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