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Prophet of Bones: A Novel Hardcover – April 2, 2013

3.6 out of 5 stars 72 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Amazon Exclusive: Daniel H. Wilson Discusses What Makes Prophet of Bones Worth Staying Up Too Late

DanielHWilson

Daniel H. Wilson is the New York Times best-selling author of Robopocalypse, as well as seven other books including How to Survive a Robot Uprising and Amped.

Prophet of Bones is a well-written, utterly convincing thriller that left my mind reeling for days. It latched on after the first chapter and didn't let go until the last word.

Ted Kosmatka's novel is a bloody, yet profoundly introspective, thriller that's not set so much in a near-future world as in a near-alternate world. This is a place where science has proven evolution wrong and radio carbon dating shows the earth is about 6000 years old. The seamless blending of science and theology is fascinating, moreso when scientist Paul Carlsson discovers a set of ancient human bones that shouldn't exist. His quest to requite the two worlds-–to seek the truth at all costs-–will destroy his life and take the reader on a trip that is half detective work and half old-fashioned butt-kicking (with a side of biology, genetics, and paleoanthropology).

Despite the sheer fun of reading Prophet of Bones, the underlying themes are what elevate the material. You are left wondering about the shared origin of humanity, the lost branches of human sub-species, and whether knowing more really helps us understand ourselves. Is it more tempting to play God in a world where science and religion are the same thing?

Kosmatka is a full-time writer at Valve Software, the company behind the massively popular video games Half-Life and Portal. Maybe it's my imagination, but I occasionally caught beautiful facets of those games lurking under the surface of Prophet of Bones. In the novel as in the games, our heroes are scientists, our villains are scientists, and their creations... well, just wait until you meet their creations.

What else can I say? Prophet of Bones is as thoughtful as it is thrilling. It kept me up way, way past my bedtime.

From Booklist

*Starred Review* Kosmatka follows up his splendid debut, the near-future thriller, The Games (2012), with something more ambitious and with a much higher potential for failure. Paul Carlsson is a scientist recruited to help out at an archaeological dig in Indonesia, where a startling discovery has been made, one that could shake the very foundations of world history. Paul soon learns that there are hidden truths about the history of mankind and that desperate people will stop at nothing to keep those secrets from being revealed. The tale begins with a startling premise, that carbon dating has conclusively proved that the earth is less than six millennia old. Kosmatka incorporates real history (Willard F. Libby did win a Nobel Prize in 1960 for his work on carbon dating) and uses a real event as a jumping-off point: Homo floresiensis (“Flores man”) really was discovered in Indonesia in 2003, really was nicknamed “hobbit” for its small stature, and really did cause some serious controversy about its status as a possible human ancestor. A near-perfect blending of traditional thriller and alternate-reality scientific and theological fantasy, the novel, expanded from Kosmatka’s 2007 novelette, “The Prophet of Flores,” has best-seller written all over it. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: With appropriate marketing, this cross-genre mix of thriller and fantasy could hit it big. --David Pitt
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Henry Holt and Co. (April 2, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0805096175
  • ISBN-13: 978-0805096170
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.8 x 9.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (72 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,729,596 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Yolanda S. Bean VINE VOICE on March 20, 2013
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
This is a very well-written novel with an engaging style, a fast pace and a genuinely fascinating premise. Kosmatka's novel blends genres well. At its heart, it's an exciting thriller, but also offers the readers some mystery, too, with some natural science thrown into a speculative fiction backdrop as the setting as a unique version of our world. There's even a dash of romance thrown in that works very well! The hero, Paul, is a likable and effective character. His development and actions follow a logical progression and works well within the parameters set by Kosmatka's interesting twist on reality.

Though a lot of factual information is woven into the fabric of the novel (complete with references!), its inclusion is seamless. Kosmatka never dumps information into awkward sections and the way the chronology of the story works also compliments the pacing well. The conclusion - though ultimately satisfying - could have gone even further because I really want to know more about these characters and what will happen next! The characters are very well drawn and I like them all - even the villains are given more depth than many other thrillers. The premise works so well and really sets itself apart from other books. I definitely will be keeping an eye out for future novels by this talented author - and also checking out his debut novel, The Games.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
When I read Ted Kosmatka's debut thriller "The Games" last year, I was impressed by the author's storytelling prowess. Moments and action sequences within that novel are absolutely spellbinding, but the major plot threads never quite integrated as effectively as they might have (for my taste). Still it was an entertaining and, at times, gruesome adventure that I plowed through with enthusiasm. Kosmatka returns to some of the same principle themes in his next endeavor "Prophet of Bones." Oddly enough, my reaction almost directly mirrors my feelings upon reading his previous effort. Judged on its own merit, this is a page turning chiller that incorporates Crichton-esque concepts into a fast paced horror escapism. And yet, it presents a back story that never feels entirely developed. It's always intriguing, mind you, but it doesn't quite connect the disparate pieces as efficiently as I had hoped. There is an exploration of madness, obsession, and science gone awry. Kosmatka, once again, focuses on genetic engineering and the creation of new species to serve as the backdrop for the novel's central story. And the possibilities seems equally unnerving and horrifying.

Paul Carlsson, a brilliant young scientist with a troubled past, has become one of the most respected DNA researchers of his day. When an archeological dig unearths a strange new collection of bones, Carlsson is co-opted into service and sent to the dig's remote location. What he sees might just indicate a new species that would dispel current notions about the evolutionary process. Before he can get too enthused, however, his world in thrust into turmoil and danger. It seems that the truth is something that was meant to stay buried! As Carlsson rushes headfirst toward answers, his entire world starts to be threatened.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I was amazed at the amount of science in this book. A brilliant scientist, working with bones and interested in genetics, gets invited to a dig where bones have been found- bones like none seen before. And so begins a story of conspiracy, politics, and crime. One man is trying to find out the truth, and he finds more than he bargains for.

While there is action in this book, it is more of an intellectual thriller. There is a lot of background, and a lot of science, especially in the first half of the book. I found this part of the book very interesting. When the action began, I had a much harder time putting the book down! Very well-written, with fascinating theories and a villain I can't forget.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
The set-up of the plot really drives the pages. For me this obvious untruth of the world being just 5,800 years old with everything else being equal, in terms today's world, was a great premise. The reason being, is that truth today is very much in question. So, the author takes one known truth, of earth age(close to 5 billion), and really skewers it down to that miniscule 5,800. Why?
Knowing Ted Kosmatka's book The Games, was very well reseaeched in cutting-edge science, meant this anomaly was purposed specifically to alert the reader. As I read, it became fun to guess ahead, what was the the reason for this striking feature; in that, the author superbly builds a world in which cutting-edge science supports this parallel Earth. In fact, the authors quotes Voltaire's at the very beginning of his novel/If this is the best of all possible worlds, what are the others like.
I was thinking more in the lines of Napolean's/What is history but a fable agreed upon.
This is then, the intriquing backdrop to which the author casts the main character; Paul Carlsson, a brilliant young scientist in the study of his two passions in life-genetics and anthropology-the field of paleometagenomics; upon this parallel world's stage.
Paul is selected into an exclusive field-work research program on early man's bones, and wonders why/We live in a world where zealots become scientists. Tell me, boy, are you a zealot? Paul answers/No. And then is told simply/Then that's your reason. In this program Paul is told that the Universities/Colleges can't keep up. Field techniques are obsolete by the time the texbooks are printed. If you want to see the curriculum three years early; you do what Paul is being offered. Bones are where its at for Paul/Bone is what remains of us after we're gone.
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