Read a full summary of The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon below. If you can’t remember what happened in The Bone Season and you need a refresher, then you’re in the right place.
In the year 2059, nineteen-year old Paige Mahoney lives in the police-state of Scion London. The harsh regime was designed to protect Londoners from the curse of “unnaturalness” more commonly called clairvoyance. The daughter of an important scientist, Paige hides her own clairvoyance and secretly works with The Seven Dials, one of the crime syndicates that rules the SciLo underground. Her special skill of dreamwalking — which allows her to enter the dreamscapes of other clairvoyants — is rare and very sought after.
One day Paige is arrested by the SciLo police but instead of being executed like other clairvoyants she is taken to a secret penal colony in Oxford called Sheol I. There she learns that the Scion government system, though run by humans, is in fact a front for a race of beings known as Rephaim. When humans began to possess and use great amounts of clairvoyance it opened a rift between the human plane and the plane of the Rephaim called the Netherworld. The Rephaim and their enemies, the Emim, crossed into earth where their fight continued. The Rephaim use human clairvoyants to fight the battle against the Emim and in exchange for keeping the Emim out of London the Scion government sends clairvoyants to Sheol I to work as slaves and soldiers.
The first Bone Season book follows Paige’s successful escape from Sheol I.
what happened in The Bone Season?
- Paige works as a mollisher or dreamwalker for the mime-lord Jaxon Hall. She is one of the Seven Seals in the infamous crime syndicate of I-4 known as Seven Dials. The work is difficult and in order to access her gift Paige’s spirit leaves her body, requiring her to be on life-support for any extended out-of-body experiences.
- As a clairvoyant Paige is constantly on the run from the police (known as the SVD or the NVD depending on the time of day) who will arrest and kill her solely because she is an unnatural. One day she takes a chance and rides the subway home to visit her father. Only a few minutes into the ride she is discovered by two Underguards — special police with clairvoyant powers used to hunt down other clairvoyants — and as they try to arrest her she uses her gift to kill one and destroy the mind of the other. This is the first time Paige has ever killed someone with her abilities.
- Now wanted for murder Paige prepares to go on the run but a special police unit captures her outside of father’s house. They incapacitate her with a psychic poison known as Flux, leaving Paige sick and unaware for days.
- Paige awakes to realize that she is not in the Scion prisons but somewhere else entirely. She is released from her cell by Pleione, a Rephaim, and placed into a holding cell with other captives. In this holding cell Paige meets a variety of people some of whom play a role in the story and others who really don’t. The most important are:
- Seb – a non-clairvoyant human, only fifteen years old. Paige feels protective of him.
- Julian – he claims to be a seer or lower-order clairvoyant, but in truth his power is a mystery. He and Paige have a similar background
- Carl – another voyant with an attitude. He and Paige instantly dislike one another
- The captives are moved from the holding cell to a welcome ceremony where they meet Nashira, the blood-sovereign of the Rephaim. She tells them how the history of the Rephaim on planet earth and explains what will happen to the captives at Sheol I. Every ten year the Rephaim harvest clairvoyants from SciLo. They call these harvests Bone Seasons and Paige and her cohort are members of Bone Season XX. Each captive is stripped of their name and given a number instead. Paige is now known as XX-59-40. Nashira goes on to explain that each captive will be chosen by a Rephaim who will then serve as a mentor/owner to the captive voyant. The voyant will then be put through a series of tests in order to earn a place amongst the clairvoyant soldiers called red-jackets serving the Rephaim in their fight against the Emim. Those who fail will be turned over to the Overseer to be turned into a performer ordered to amuse the Rephaim and the soldiers. Nashira makes it clear that both the performers and the soldiers are slaves at the mercy of the Rephaim but at least the soldiers are more likely to receive regular food and reasonable care.
- Paige is chosen last by the Nashira’s blood-consort: a dark, handsome Rephaite named Arcturus, Warden of the Mesarthim. He takes her to live with him in his separate palace compound known as The Residence of Magdalen.
- During her first day Paige explores Sheol I and visits the Rookery, the squatter settlement of the cast-out clairvoyant performers, called harlies. There she meets Liss, a tarot card reader who performs as an acrobat using silks. Liss explains more about the Rephaim as well as the other relationship between the harlies and the red-jackets: ie, not good. In this encounter Paige also learns that Rephaim feed off of the aura of clairvoyants in order to sustain themselves. It is one of the main reasons that the Rephaim allow the harlies to continue living at Sheol I, as a sort of food supply.
- With Liss’ help Paige is able to locate where Seb is being held with the other amuarotics (non-clairvoyants). She discovers that Seb is being beaten, starved, and kept in horrible conditions. She vows to Seb that she will free him and help him escape back to SciLo
- Upon returning to Magdalen Paige discovers Warden mortally wounded in his bedroom. Though she contemplates letting him die, she ultimately concludes that the death of the blood-consort would only be tied back to her. So, Paige bandages his wounds and saves his life.
- The next day Paige does not see Warden and she goes back into town to see Liss. There she also sees Julian where she finds out that he is being treated poorly by his Rephaite keeper. She also learns that Carl is doing well with his Rephaite and has already advanced through his first test. Paige is worried when she finds out that Carl’s test involved him locating Jax, her mime-lord back in SciLo.
- Later in the day Paige finally meets with Warden, as well as two other Rephaim. They take her to Nashira for her first test. Paige is intent on keeping her gift of dreamwalking a secret from the blood-sovereign because earlier Liss had told her that Nashira collected unique clairvoyant gifts by killing the voyant and taking their gift into herself. However, Nashira reveals that she has brought Seb to the palace as a means of forcing Paige’s hand. In order to pass her test, Paige must kill Seb like she killed the guard on the train. Still Paige refuses, however when a Rephaite puts a knife to Seb’s throat Paige panics and enters the Rephaite’s dreamscape where she drives the Rephaite to her knees. Nashira is impressed but ultimately, she kills Seb anyway. When Paige becomes enraged she is again shot with a Flux dart.
- It turns out that this time the Flux dart has hit Paige in a femoral artery which causes a dangerous infection in her leg. Warden heals her with a special potion but when she tells him that now they are even because she healed him once, he denies that his injuries ever happened.
- Later Paige has a dream in which she recalls the first time she experienced her clairvoyant powers. One day, while lying in a poppy field as a young girl Paige is attacked by a poltergeist and is injured. She is treated at a local hospital by a young doctor, a prodigy from Sweden named Nick. Nick makes Paige promise she will never tell the truth about what happened to her in the field and that one day he will find her and explain everything. To this day Paige’s dreamscape has taken the form of a poppy field.
- Warden begins training with Paige, taking her to Port Meadow a training field outside of Sheol I which becomes an important spot later in the book. He teaches her to harness her fear and anger as a way of making it easier for her to jump into other dreamscapes.
- Paige receives a vision from an oracle known as XX-59-12 to meet him in secret. Though suspicious because he is a red-jacket Paige meets with him. He reveals his name is David and he also harbors resentment towards the Rephaim. He tells her that Nashira is worried about the power of the crime syndicates in SciLo, particularly the Seven Dials. He also tells her about Bone Season XVIII during which the harlies and some red-jackets rebelled against the Rephaim. Some traitorous Rephaim also joined in the rebellion. Unfortunately the rebellion ended in slaughter when the Rephaim allowed the Emim into Sheol I to crush the mutineers. All the humans were killed and the Rephaite involved were tortured and are now referred to them as the scarred ones.
- When Paige returns from her meeting with David she discovers that Warden has been mysteriously wounded once again and worse than the last time. This time Paige realizes that he has been secretly fighting the Emim. Again she contemplates whether or not to save his life but feels drawn, yet again to help him. He says the only way to save him is with human blood to help speed the healing of his wounds and without her blood he will not survive. Reluctantly, Paige offers him her blood and shortly after he drinks it, Pleione arrives with a vial of Seb’s blood collected after his death. Paige is disgusted and leaves the two in a hurry.
- Again, Paige dreams of her past, this time of Nick introducing her to the world of clairvoyants as well as her eventual mime-lord Jax. With Nick’s help she starts to realize that she is not a freak but instead a gifted individual. Soon, Paige has fallen in love with him. Jax is less benevolent but Paige soon learns to think of him as a sort of father-figure.
- Paige spends the next day hiding in an abandoned library look at a letter given to her by David as well as a faded daguerreotype with the date 1842 in the corner. She can’t make out the image in the picture but the burned letter mentions something about a red flower.
- Later while visiting with Liss she learns from Julian that Nashira is looking for a famous voyant known as Antoinette Carter. In order to pass his test Julian found Carter and told Nashira that she was near the Seven Dials. He apologizes to Paige for bringing the Rephaim closer to her syndicate, but she understands that it wasn’t his fault. Liss expresses her fear that Nashira will kill Paige during the upcoming Bicentennial Ceremony in order to take Paige’s dreamwalking power. But just before Liss can read Paige’s future in the cards three red-jackets break into Liss’ shack. In the ensuing fight Julian and Paige are soundly beaten and Liss’ tarot deck is destroyed in the fire pit. When Suhail, the Rephaite who oversees the harlies, breaks up the fight he feeds on Paige’s aura before taking her back to Warden.
- Paige continues her training with Warden. He takes her far into the woods behind Magdalen and tells her more about the history between Emim and Rephaim. He explains to her that the Emim enter the earthly realm through portals to the aether called cold spots which are opened with the blood of Rephaim. He then takes her to a clearing where he introduces her to a doe he has been taking care of. He challenges Paige to enter the dreamscape of the deer as a way to pass her final test to become a red-jacket. Paige balks and instead, enters the dreamscape of a butterfly. In doing so she actually takes possession of the butterfly, the first time she has used this sort of power related to her gift. Exhausted, Paige falls asleep in the woods after Warden tells her he must return to Sheol for a brief errand.
- While asleep Paige dreams of the last time she saw her cousin Finn, a revolutionary in Dublin fighting against the control of Scion. The reader is led to believe that Finn was killed during a protest.
- Paige awakes in the woods to realize that Warden has not returned but left a note telling her that in order to pass the final test she must return through No Man’s Land back to Sheol I. During her trek back she comes face to face with an Emim, commonly called a Buzzer by the humans at Sheol I. Paige runs, breaking her wrist along the way. Using a shot of adrenaline provided by Warden Paige manages to fight fatigue and pain to get within shouting distance of the border to Sheol I. She becomes terrified when she realizes the guards are not firing at the Buzzer and in desperation she uses her fear to leave her body and enter the body of the deer she had not been able to enter before. Paige later wakes in Warden’s bed to find out that she has passed her test and is now a red-jacket. Warden had summoned the Emim to create the fear that Paige needed to take over the body of a larger being, like a butterfly.
- Warden and Paige have a long conversation in which she learns that he has helped his house servant, Michael recover from the traumatic loss of his clairvoyance. She also begins to wonder if the red flower is a poison that can kill Rephaim after Warden shows her his collection of herbs and flowers. After their conversation she meets with Julian, now officially a harlie after failing to complete his final test. He lives with Liss who is a severe state of spirit shock after losing her connection to the aether, her tarot cards. Paige and Julian talk about staging a rebellion but before they can continue their conversation they are interrupted by the Overseer who says that Paige has been summoned to a banquet with Nashira.
- At the banquet Paige is officially awarded her red-jacket and told that her first mission will be to go back to SciLo to capture Antoinette Carter. Paige is scared that the mission will uncover her links to the Seven Dials and she fears for her friends in the syndicate. Nashira has received information that one of the Seven Seals of the Seven Dials is a dreamwalker, though she is unaware that the dreamwalker is in fact Paige. Nashira says that the red-jackets must bring back Carter and the dreamwalker of the Seven Seals.
- Paige dreams about the fifth and sixth editions to Jax’s crime-syndicate: American siblings named Zeke and Nadine. Zeke is a type of clairvoyant called a fury, someone who can control fire. However, his power has been lost making him an unreadable, a very rare voyant who cannot use their power or have their dreamscape accessed. Nadine is a common clairvoyant and Jax allows her to stay because of her brother.
- Paige returns after the banquet to tell Warden that he will be accompanying her and the team of red-jackets into SciLo the next day. Warden is also relieved to hear that Paige dodged Nashira’s questions about what Warden has been up to. It is clear that Nashira and Warden are not on good terms.
- During the mission to SciLo Paige and the red-jackets enter into a deadly street battle with the Seven (now six) Seals over Antoinette Carter. She and the other red-jackets are wearing masks so the Seals do not recognize her and the guards have put a chemical on her lips that prevent her from opening her mouth so she is unable to speak to her old friends. In fact, she is severely beaten by Jax. Paige uses the mêlée to try and escape from Warden and the other Rephaim guards who accompanied them. However, during her escape she is shot in the back and she collapses near a bridge. It turns out her beloved Nick was the one who shot her but when he takes off her mask he realizes who she is he tries desperately to save her. Paige manages to write the “Oxf” in her blood and Nick learns she is being kept in Oxford. Before he can do anything further Warden collects Paige and takes her back to Sheol I.
- While she is recovering from her injuries at Magdalen Paige learns that Warden spared Nick because he knew that Nick was her friend. He also knows that Paige is one of the Seven Seals and it is likely that Nashira knows as well. Warden also explains that he and Paige are now bonded by something called “the golden cord” because they have saved each other’s lives three separate times. Now they are bound for the rest of Paige’s natural life and will always know where the other is at all times. They can also talk with each other across the aether. Paige panics, thinking that she cannot trust Warden but he invites her to come into his dreamscape as a way of showing that he trusts her. Plus, entering his dreamscape will allow Paige to understand Warden’s motives.
- While in Warden’s dreamscape Paige uncovers that Warden possess the power of oneiromancy or the ability to enter and shape dreams. She soon realizes that all of her recent dreams about her past were actually caused by Warden as he entered her head at night. This was how he knew about Nick and her connection to the Seven Dials. Realizing that he manipulated her in order to learn about her Paige leaves his dreamscape and closes herself off from him once again.
- To make it up her Warden tells her about the House where Paige can find the necessary materials for her escape, as well as possibly a new deck of tarot cards to heal Liss from her spirit shock. Paige sneaks into the House but she is nearly caught before Terebell, a Rephaite helps her escape. She realizes that Terebell must be friends with Warden and possibly another ally against Nashira. In the House Paige finds a storehouse of materials including a deck of cards for Liss. Before she can leave she is surprised by Kraz, the heir to the Rephiam throne. He attacks her and Paige kills him using the pollen of the red flower she stole from Warden’s collection of herbs.
- She returns to Warden and tells him what happened. He assures her that no one but Terebell knew she was in the house so the murder will not be traced back to her. However, Nashira has learned that Paige’s gift has fully matured so it is only a matter of time before she tries to possess it for herself. Paige explains her plans for escape and Warden promises to help her. During their conversation he asks her about her relationship with Nick and Paige explains they are only friends, but Warden believes otherwise. He then tells Paige that he believes she has a memory that she refuses to acknowledge that might limiting her power and at the very least, limiting her as a person. Paige agrees to let him use his power to access the locked memory.
- With Warden’s help Paige remembers the night the Seven Seals tried to break into Zeke’s head. The attempts were torturous to Zeke and the rest of the gang so ultimately Paige and Nick refuse to go further and leave for the night. While they are alone Paige thinks Nick is going to confess that he also has feelings for her. However, it turns out that Nick is already in love, but with someone else: Zeke. Realizing that she will never have Nick and that she will always be relegated to the FriendZone, Paige runs away from him and goes to a bar where she painfully loses her virginity to a random guy at a bar. Warden tells Paige that her meaningless tryst was an attempt to find out if she was worth anything beyond her gift. He says that he sometimes feels the same way.
- Nashira interrupts their discussion and Paige is forced to hide behind some curtains. Nashira questions Warden about his relationship with Paige but he says it is nothing more than that between any keeper and voyant. Nashira asserts her dominance over Warden and reminds him that there will be no repeat of the rebellion twenty years ago. Now Paige knows for sure that Warden is one of the scarred ones who fought against the other Rephaim during Bone Season XVIII. Warden is not her enemy but her ally. Duh.
- Warden tells Paige that Nashira fears the syndicates of SciLo because they have organized the voyants of London. The earlier rebellion of Bone Season of XVIII almost succeeded because the prisoners were used to being organized in the syndicates. However, a self-serving voyant changed sides at the last moment, betraying Warden and the rebellion. Warden says that if the voyants become united once again or if the syndicates learn of the Rephaim than the Rephaim might be destroyed. But Nashira believes this won’t happen as long as humans remain self-serving.
- Warden tells Paige that she and others can escape on the same train that brought them to Sheol I. Normally it only runs once every ten years, but it will be making a special trip to bring dignitaries from SciLo for the Bicentenary Celebration. In exchange for helping Paige organize the escape Warden asks that she help him publically humiliate Nashira, proving that she and the other Rephaim are not invincible. By preventing Nashira from claiming her gift, Paige can help prove this weakness. Paige agrees to help Warden as long as he promises to help with the escape and cure Liss. Using his blood and a ritual, Warden cures Liss from her spirit shock.
- Paige, Michael, and Julian organize the willing harlies and other clairvoyants and plan the logistics for their escape during the Ceremony. On the day of the Ceremony Paige prepares to go to the banquet hall when she encounters David once again. He says he noticed that Michael, in his role as servant, had spiked the punch of the red-jackets loyal to Nashira. Paige becomes afraid that Michael will alert Nashira to their plans, ruining their escape a la the human who betrayed the rebels of Bone Season XVIII. But instead David cryptically alludes that there are others in Scion eager to overturn the Rephaim. He leaves before Paige can ask more.
- At the Ceremony Paige confronts Cathal Bell, the weak leader of the up and coming Scion Dublin. She holds him responsible for the death of her cousin and uses her gift to give him a nosebleed. Seriously, this Finn-thing just seems like a sidestory, but maybe it will be important in the next book?
- Paige learns that Nashira plans to extend the reach of Scion – and by default, the Rephaim – to the rest of Europe.
- Warden tells Paige that Nashira plans to kill her and take her powers during the final moments of the Ceremony in order to solidify her power in front of the Scion delegates. As Paige begins to panic in the face of impending death, Warden takes her aside to reassure her. They end up passionately making-out but before it can go any further Nashira walks in on them, discovering their relationship. She orders the Rephaim to take Warden hostage, stripping him of his titles and their protection. She then takes Paige to the stage before the entire audience and attempts to kill her. Using the golden cord Warden tells Paige that sympathetic Rephaim will help him escape and she just needs to delay Nashira as long as possible. Paige manages to fend off Nashira for a short time by using her powers to possess Nashira. But the more powerful Rephaite is able to block her out and she in turn uses a strong poltergeist to mortally wound Paige. Warden appears on the stage and attacks Nashira before running away with Paige in his arms (swoon).
- As she lies in Warden’s arms, struggling to remain conscious, he tells her that the Seven Seals had come for her. Turns out Nick convinced Jax and the rest of her crew to come to her rescue in Oxford. Nick tries to fix Paige’s wounds but eventually Warden has to be the one to save her using the same magic he used to cure Liss. Pleione helps as well, revealing her to be another of the scarred ones.
- Warden tells Paige that the entrance to the train is located under Port Meadow where they did their training. He and Pleione stay to take on the Rephaim leaving Paige to escape with Nick and the other Seals. As Paige is leaving the banquet hall she sees Liss on the floor. She had been at the Ceremony performing on her silks, but someone has cut them, causing her to fall from a great height. She dies in Paige’s arms. Paige realizes that Liss’ former Rephiate Keeper, Gomeisa, caused her death. Turns out that Gomeisa is a real Big Bad with a lot of power. Maybe the Bigger Bad than Nashira? It’s unclear. Paige and Nick are joined by Warden to face Gomeisa but before the battle can truly begin the stage in the banquet hall where they have been standing explodes. Paige later realizes this explosion was probably caused by the mysterious Scion element that David had spoken of earlier.
- Paige and Nick flee once again, unsure whether Warden survived the explosion. They run to Port Meadow where Warden (who is apparently either indestructible or just a lucky SOB) finds them once again. Both Gomeisa and Nashira appear to have survived the battle. Paige begins to gather as many of the harlies and other voyants as possible, but Jax tells her to leave them behind and just save the Seals. Paige then (finally) realizes that Jax is a bit of a douche and she quits the Seven Seals and promises to leave the Dials. Jax refuses to let her leave but they decide to continue the conversation once they are safe in SciLo.
- Paige comes across a dying Scion employee who had traveled to Sheol I for the Bicentennial. With his last breath he tells her that “the creatures” will destroy everything and that she must “find Rackham.” Nothing more is said about this encounter.
- Warden takes Paige and the others to the tunnel entrance for the train but he tells her that the door is locked with a spell using a poltergeist. Unless Paige can use her gift to enter the aether and convince the poltergeist to leave then they will be unable to open the door and escape. Paige confronts the poltergeist and realizes that it is Seb, the boy she failed to save. She apologizes for not helping him escape and tells him that she can help him now by releasing him from being a poltergeist. He agrees and Paige sends his spirit to a different, nicer (?) part of the aether. Warden opens the door and everyone enters the tunnel just as the train arrives.
how did it end?
Warden kisses Paige on the platform to the train and tells her that he won’t be coming to SciLo with her. Instead, he will hunt Nashira to keep her from coming after Paige in the future. He tells her “If I never return — if you never see me again — it will mean that everything is all right. That I have ended her. But if I return, it will mean that I have failed. That there is still danger. And then I will find you.”
Paige gets on the train and watches Warden fade into the distance. She then tells the reader “I would never see him again.” For reals??? It’s hard to tell…
The book ends with Paige free and racing towards SciLo. After realizing that she trusts Warden she says she now must learn to trust herself.
Final Main Character Body Count:
Living: Paige, the Seven Seals, Warden, Michael, Nashira, and several other dangerous Rephaim
Presumed Dead: Julian, Carl
Absolutely Dead: Seb, Liss, the heir to the Rephaim throne