First US edition cover
|Cover artist||Jeff Smith
Elizabeth Lewis (colourist)
|August 15, 2001|
|Media type||Hardback and paperback|
|ISBN||ISBN 1-888963-08-5 (hardback)
ISBN 1-888963-09-3 (paperback)
ISBN 0-439-70634-3 (paperback)scholastic
|Preceded by||Old Man's Cave|
|Followed by||Treasure Hunters|
Ghost Circles is the seventh book in the Bone series. It collects issues 40-45 of Jeff Smith's self-published Bone comic book series, and marks the beginning of the third and final part of the saga, entitled Harvest. The book was published by Cartoon Books in black-and-white in 2001 and in color by Scholastic Press in 2008.
At the besieged fortress of Old Man's Cave, the Headmaster of the Veni Yan summons Wendell, the village tinsmith and explains how he believes the current unrest is not due to the Bones. He shows a medallion bearing the Harvestar family crest; a crown with a star above it. Thorn, he explains, may in fact be the "one who bears the star" The Hooded One has been seeking. Just then, the mountain erupts as the Lord of the Locusts stirs beneath it. The armies massed outside the fortress begin their attack.
At this moment, the Lord of the Locust resurrects his servant Briar, and sends her off to "seek out our missing powers and return them to us".
The Bones, Thorn and Gran'ma Ben flee the collapsing mountain, pursued by Kingdok. Fone Bone and Smiley lead them to the tunnel they used to escape from Roque Ja. As they descend through the tunnel, Fone warns everyone that they will probably start hallucinating again, just as they did the last time they passed through there. Sure enough, Fone and Phoney become Ishmael and Captain Ahab from Fone's favorite book, Moby-Dick. They stagger on to the tunnel exit and find the valley on the other side turned into a wasteland, covered in ash and every tree flattened.
The Bones, Thorn and Gran'ma Ben make their way across the devastated valley. Thorn leads them as she is the only one who can see and avoid the Ghost Circles, invisible pockets of unreality where nothing can live, and that separate the true, intact valley from the illusory wasteland. She and Fone brush the periphery of one, and are momentarily transported back into the forest as it stood before the devastation of the valley. Thorn explains that she can survive it, and maybe even undo the spell, because she tore off a piece of the Lord of the Locust's soul when it tried to possess her, thus inheriting some of its power.
Thorn and Gran'ma Ben remain undecided whether to return to Old Man's Cave or press on to the old capital, Atheia. A troop of Rat Creatures makes that decision for them, blocking the route to Old Man's Cave. A scout party of Rat Creatures discovers their camp and Thorn and Fone get separated from the others. As Ben fights off some of the Rat Creatures, Bartleby, the Rat Creature cub, returns. Meanwhile Thorn and Fone discover Briar is the one leading the Rat Creatures to them. She reveals to Fone Bone that he too has a piece of the Lord of the Locusts' soul inside him (a result of his and Thorn's stumbling into the Ghost Circle). Briar is about to kill Thorn, who is no longer necessary to her plans, when Smiley and Bartleby come charging to the rescue.
Snap! Crackle! Pop!
The entire team starts heading down the mountain, chased by the Rat Creatures. Fortunately, the team lures them into a massive field of Ghost Circles, where the Rat Creatures vanish into thin air. Gran'ma Ben is convinced that Briar is still alive, yet unaware that everyone else is still alive also. Nevertheless, the team moves on. Meanwhile, at Old Man's Cave, Wendell hears the report that the villagers found Lucius Down at Conkle's Hollow alive, guided by a mysterious buzzing sound (which actually belongs to Ted the Bug). Wendell tells Lucius that Jonathan Oaks is here and that Lucius shouldn't think about it, but Lucius tells by the look on Wendell's face that Jonathan has died from his injuries. The Headmaster of the Veni Yan then arrives, asking Lucius where Gran'ma Ben and Thorn are; he explains that if they are still alive, they should be heading to Atheia by now. He demands that they go there, but the Veni Yan have convinced him that there are no survivors and that he is a traitor to the Queen, and they send him to the infirmary.
The Root Cellar
Bartleby warns Thorn's party that Smiley Bone has collapsed from hunger, and the team is out of rations. Phoney Bone asks Thorn if there is any food left, but she tells him that anything that isn't trapped in a Ghost Circle is destroyed. She is then ordered to go inside a Ghost Circle to look for food, and Fone Bone has to go with her. Gran'ma Ben warns her that they're in Pawa, in hostile territory, but Thorn and Fone Bone press on. Once inside the Ghost Circle, they head for the root cellar of a farmer's family where they grab apples. They then hear voices of the farmer's family pleading for help, telling her there is a message from her mother, to seek out the Crown of Horns and to take the piece of the Locust from Fone Bone. Thorn does so by taking Fone and the apples out of the Ghost Circle. Back at Old Man's Cave, Wendell visits Lucius, who tells him of his forgotten past when he was once a soldier and chose Briar over her sister Rose. Wendell tells him that Euclid has been missing since the volcano erupted, and Lucius decides that they all go to Atheia together.
With the piece of the Locust inside her, Thorn grows weaker by the minute. With Fone and Gran'ma Ben carrying Thorn, the party makes its way gingerly through the Dragon burial grounds of Tanen Gard, ever wary of rousing the Dragons. A bottomless pit crossed only by a steep and narrow rock bridge lies ahead. As they clamber to safety, Thorn begins to revive, the purity of the sacred ground healing her. They soon reach the ridge and find the valley beyond clear of the devastation of the Ghost Circles. The presence of Prayer Stones, idols left by Atheians for the Dragons, shows that the Old Kingdom is still alive. As they make their way towards the city of Atheia, a small, lone Locust is seen resting on one of the prayer stones.
At Old Man's Cave the villagers demand of the Veni Yan that they release Lucius, planning to head for the Old Kingdom themselves. The Veni Yan initially try to stop them, but a heartfelt speech from Lucius convinces them to accompany his party. It is at this time the veni-yan take off their hoods, indicating that they too want the old kingdom back, hence they do not need to go into hiding, or underground.