Napier's Bones

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.

Reviews of Napier's Bones:

Murphy's vision of numbers as the secret, driving engine of the physical world is striking—he plays right into the mind's own propensity to ascribe pattern to the patternless, significance to the random. The resulting mystical system feels very convincing, and forms the basis for as fun and intense an adventure novel as you could hope to find. The physical book, produced by Canadian specialty press ChiZine, is a smart and beautiful little package with striking, subtle use of embossing and type-design that makes it a fine artifact in its own right.
. . . Napier's Bones is a consistently compelling and inventive read. Think of it as literary prog-rock, stretching the bounds of what is possible. . . 
—Ian Daffern, Quill & Quire
[A] clever lark full of free-wheeling adventure and odd intellectual borrowings; a sort of winking DaVinci Code for the math set bracketed in magic and uncertainty.
—Alex Good, The New York Review of Science Fiction
The Aurora-nominated novel Napier’s Bones mixes magical chocolate with numerical peanut butter to create a tasty blend of fantasy and science fiction . . . It’s a simple twist on an old formula and it creates a world that’s a lot of fun to explore. The story incorporates enough fantasy staples that it’s easy to settle in for the ride, but it avoids riding those rails to a predictable ending.
I can't fully express how unusual and unique this story is. It was so interesting, I flew through it. I would love to jump back into the world of numerates again. This is definitely a book to check out. Rating: 5/5.
The numerological stuff in the novel is as good as anything I've read and the action is fast and furious with no let-up till the powerful climax.
While Napier’s Bones is a blend of sci-fi and fantasy, there are enough scientific and religious undertones to make it a true original. Readers will have no problem accepting Murphy’s tight prose, which not only keeps the story flowing at a quick pace, but makes these magic mathematical abilities seem (at times) frighteningly real.
With Napier’s Bones, Derryl Murphy has given readers a new toy box to play in, one with a set of rules so widely accepted and understood that, regardless of the fantastical nature of the narrative and characters, our feet remain firmly on the ground. That, and an ending that screams out for a sequel of mathematically mind-numbing complexity, it is a surprising and all too rare treat.
It totally jives with the pulse of current pop culture . . . It’s Sheldon and Leonard [of The Big Bang Theory] on super-hero steroids.

Other Reviews

goodreads 3.20/5 stars more...

Author Info

Derryl Murphy’s stories have appeared in a variety of magazines and anthologies over the years. He is also the author of the ecological science fiction collections Wasps at the Speed of Sound and Over the Darkened Landscape and, with co-author William Shunn, of the ghost story Cast a Cold Eye. He has been nominated four times for Canada’s Aurora Award, most recently for his CZP novel Napier's Bones, and anticipates that someday he’ll be nominated and lose again. He lives on the Canadian prairies with his wife, two sons, and dog, and vaguely remembers the day when he thought this whole writing thing would be glamourous.