Treasure Hunters (book)
First US edition cover
|Cover artist||Jeff Smith
|November 6, 2002|
|Media type||Hardback and paperback|
|ISBN||ISBN 1-888963-12-3 (hardback)
ISBN 1-888963-13-1 (paperback)
|Preceded by||Ghost Circles|
|Followed by||Crown of Horns|
Treasure Hunters is the eighth book in the Bone series. It collects issues 46-51 of Jeff Smith's self-published Bone comic book series. The book was published by Cartoon Books in 2002 and in color by Scholastic Press in 2008.
This volume follows life in the old capital of Atheia as the inhabitants of the valley take shelter from the Ghost Circles and the Rat Creature armies, and as the growing unrest threatens to reveal Thorn's identity to her enemies. Meanwhile, Phoney Bone comes up with a scheme to mint his own coins.
The Gate of Atheia
Thorn, the Bone cousins and Gran'ma Ben reach Atheia at last, and find the city crammed with refugees, creatures of all shapes and sizes who have survived the devastation of the valley. Thorn and Fone meet a young girl, Taneal, who gives Thorn a tiny prayer stone. Phoney and Smiley sneak Bartleby into the city in a hay wagon that they stole from an innocent farmer, while Phoney plots how to make money off the inhabitants of the old city.
Later, Gran'ma Ben takes Thorn and the Bones to meet her teacher, an old and wise master of The Dreaming who runs a rooftop kitchen in the city.
The Cold Spot
The Teacher tells them that the inner council who once watched over the city has been replaced with a group calling themselves the Vedu, The Order of the Dreaming Eye, who strongly oppose the Dragons and anyone who associates with them. The Teacher examines Taneal's prayer stone, noting it is engraved with the name Lunaria, Thorn's mother. Just then, the shadow of Briar appears around Fone Bone, beckoning Thorn towards her. Thorn walks towards the apparition in a trance, and it takes the strength of everyone to hold her back. The teacher warns that Thorn will be at risk in her dreams, and must be kept awake.
Far away in the Eastern mountains, the real Briar plots with the Lord of the Locusts to attack Atheia. The human warriors of Pawa have joined forces with the Rat Creatures, forming an army larger and stronger than ever, and confident in the knowledge that the Dragons no longer defend the Old Kingdom. Meanwhile, a battered (but still deadly) Kingdok lurks in an underground tunnel, heading for an unknown objective.
Back at Atheia, Fone wakes up to find that Smiley is missing. He wakes Phoney up and they go out to find him. At the barn, Smiley has brought Bartleby some breakfast: a Pawanian dish that the Bone cousins and Thorn had last night. Both Bartleby and Smiley are glad that they have found a friend in each other. The remaining Bone cousins go through the town, but Phoney decides they should stop for the marketplace to see what the locals are using for currency. They soon run into a green hooded stranger before heading off.
To Be or Not to Bee
While lurking around the Atheian marketplace, Phoney and Fone Bone get into a tussle with a ferocious giant bee. The merchants thank the Bones for chasing the bee off, explaining how he and other bees frequently terrorizes the marketplace (in anger at the merchants selling water rations to the bees at hugely inflated prices). They offer the Bones gold to keep the bees away, and Phoney concocts a plan to gouge the merchants and the bees for his own profit.
Meanwhile, Gran'ma Ben and the Teacher have kept Thorn awake all night to prevent Briar and the Locust getting to her through her dreams. The Teacher explains who is behind the movement against the Dragons; Tarsil, commander of the Royal Guard, has blamed them for the appearance of the Ghost Circles and ordered his soldiers to destroy any Dragon shrines. Tarsil, who was injured by the Dragons in his youth while leading an expedition into Tanen Gard, and who resents them still, is on the lookout for any allies of the Dragons, including Thorn and Gran'ma Ben.
Before long, word reaches the Royal Guard that Thorn and Ben are in the city, and they conduct a search for them. Meanwhile, Tarsil himself meets with the head of the city's merchants guild to discuss the embargo the Royal Guard has imposed. Word soon reaches him of the presence of the crown princess Thorn, and he orders more men onto the streets to find her and put her to death.
Meanwhile, Ted the bug brings Thorn word of activities outside the city; Lucius and the others are still alive, and will reach Atheia in two days' time, but Briar and her army will arrive sooner. Thorn also learns a little about her mother Queen Lunaria (nicknamed Moonwort). Gran'ma Ben tells Ted to carry a message back to Lucius and his army, planning to trap Briar, the Pawans and the Rat Creatures in a pincer movement. That night, Thorn, Ben and the rest of the resistance hold a rooftop meeting to plan for the forthcoming conflict, and to discuss Tarsil's oppression of Dragon lore. However, the meeting is cut short when Fone Bone rushes in to warn everyone that the Royal Guard are closing in on their meeting place.
The Crown of Horns
Hiding from the search party, another of Ben's former Teachers continues the meeting. He tells Thorn that she will soon be tested, and that the fate of the world rests upon her. He suggests taking her away from the old kingdom, as her presence is only worsening the situation. Fone Bone loses his temper with the Teacher, and lets slip about his and Thorn's journey inside a Ghost Circle. Thorn confirms the story, telling the Teacher how the spirit of her mother told her to seek the Crown of Horns.
The revelation changes his attitude in an instant; the Crown, he explains, is the Dragons' deepest secret, an artifact that is the polar opposite of the Lord of the Locusts. He warns Thorn against finding it, predicting that if she, with a piece of the Locust inside her, were to come into contact with the Crown, it could destroy all existence.
Meanwhile, Phoney Bone has found the city's treasury, and despite the danger sneaks out with Smiley to raid it. They are soon caught by the Royal Guard (which were tipped off by the same merchants who hired the Bones to chase off the bees), but as they are about to arrest the Bones, the gang of giant bees turns up due to one of the merchants announcing his selling of water and a ferocious tussle ensues. Gran'ma Ben hears the commotion and rushes to the scene to break the fight up, but the Bones have already been arrested and imprisoned.
At the city wall, Thorn reveals her presence to one of the Royal Guard when he assaults Tanael for setting up a Dragon shrine. Though Thorn only scares off the lone guard, he soon returns with Tarsil and a squad to arrest her. However, it is too late; Briar and her vast army of Rat Creatures and Pawans (at least 20,000) have arrived at the city's gates, and the battle for the Old Kingdom is about to begin. Up on top of the gate, Gran'ma Ben quietly whispers, "We're not ready…"