Napier's Bones, by Derryl Murphy is a very original novel. In centers
around Don who is a numberate. A numberate is a person that can create
powerful magical effects through the control of numbers. Almost at once,
three important and intense things happen to Dom. First he has a shadow
of a dead numerate named Billy move into this body. Next he meets a
lovely young woman named Jenna who is an untrained numberate, but of an
odd sort that he has never seen. Lastly, he discovers that the long dead
mathematician Napier is trying his best to slay him and perhaps use
numbers to create changes in the very fabric of the planet.
Things get more complicated when they discover that the shadow of Napier
has possessed Jenna's mother. Soon the trio moves from just trying to
flee Napier's wrath to actively trying to stop him.
The magical use of numbers comes in many forms. Things can be as simple
as changing the numbers on a license plate to creating devastating tornadoes of whirling numbers that could kill all in their path. The
world is also littered with numberlogically significant artifacts. Some
of these are minor items that might just help someone stay hidden, but
others can range into life changing objects of massive power. Napier's
bones is one such artifact of power and if Napier retrieves them, much
of how numbers work and are understood could be changed forever.
The novel is a fun wild ride and soon has you liking the characters and
hoping they can pull through their trials. There are some unexpected
moments and the tension continues to build into a climax of epic
There were a few issues that slowed me down when I was reading. Some of
the number imagery with the magic effects was a little vague. For some
reason it was just hard for me to imagine how vets and waves of moving
numbers could accomplish some of their feats. I also wish the author had
dipped a little more into the traditional uses of numerology and how it
relates to magic. It was discussed, but I might have been interested in
seeing more of that.
Yet, this could be a strong point as well for the book is very unique.
Murphy takes on a huge task here and puts in a lot of effort to create a
world like we have never seen. It might even be hard to place this
novel into standard categories. It could be considered science fiction,
fantasy, or even dark fantasy. It is a strong well researched novel and I
would recommend this to any lover of books where magic is used in our