Published by: Roc Fantasy
Release Date: 1997
Number of Pages: 269
Peter S. Beagle’s Giant Bones is a collection of six short stories set within the same universe as his novel, The Innkeeper’s Song. I must admit, right now, that I’ve only read The Innkeeper’s Song once, many years ago (although now I definitely plan to re-read it someday soon). The great thing about these selections, however, is that even though they share common elements, such as referencing certain landmark and types of animals, each one can stand on its own as a short fantasy story.
As such, readers unfamiliar with The Innkeeper’s Song can still enjoy and become enveloped in the unique tales Beagle has to share here, which he does with all the lyrical grace that is also evident in his renowned story, The Last Unicorn, alongside its novelette sequel, Two Hearts. They can gain a deep understanding of the characters, whether or not those characters happen to appear in Beagle’s larger novel. But they still get to enjoy some continuity, since there are characters who appear in one story, but are then referenced in another one.
Each story moves like a skillful dancer from thoughtful, somewhat melancholy adventures, such as that of “The Last Song of Sirit Byar” (where the narrator, Mircha Del, tells of her childhood journey following a celebrated bard with a complicated past) and more comedic shenanigans like those found in “The Tragical Historie of the Jiril’s Players” (where the children of a ruler, known as the “Jiril,” force a theater troupe to help further their own political objectives through one of their performances). And Beagle is able to balance such elements skillfully.
Additionally, the worldbuilding and strong sense of voice are impressive factors as well, and it is easy to sympathize with Beagle’s characters as they overcome any number of difficulties. There is this intimate feel to each one, as if the narrator is making an intimate confession, that only serves to draw in readers even deeper into all the events and circumstances.
So for anyone who would love to check out some great examples of Peter S. Beagle’s short stories, I would definitely recommend Giant Bones right away.