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Crown of Horns is the ninth and final book in the Bone series. It collects issues 50-55 of Jeff Smith's self-published Bone comic book series. The book was published by Cartoon Books in 2004. The color version was published by Scholastic Press and released on January 21, 2009. [1]

Synopsis

The Dungeon and the Parapet

The chapter starts with Briar, Queen Lunaria (also called "Moonwort", the English translation of her name), and Lunaria's husband the king at Dragon's Stair, and because of the enemies attacking, Thorn is given to her grandmother, Rose Harvestar, who is also known as Gran'ma Ben. Gran'ma delivers her to the Great Red Dragon; almost at the same moment, Thorn's parents are killed. Thorn then mounts the dragon's back and takes the long journey underground into the cavern with a bright light. The Great Red Dragon asks Thorn to look into the light, whereupon she mentions a frozen waterfall. After trying to see past this, she sees her mother's face which asks her to seek the Crown of Horns. Thorn then wakes up, and at this point readers learn that Tarsil's soldiers had beaten Thorn and Fone Bone brutally and thrown them into a dungeon. Thorn loses a tooth in the process. To cheer her up, Fone Bone shows a goofy smile wherein one of his teeth is missing also. Meanwhile, Gran'ma Ben is atop the front wall of Atheia looking at the activity below. She is seen by a Vedu and two Veni-Yan monks. The Vedu tells her to go with the other old woman, whereupon she knocks him off the wall. The Veni-Yan are shown to be loyal to the Harvestars. Briar's army arrives and threatens to kill anyone who opposes them. Tarsil defies them, whereupon Briar declares that she will teach him fear. Defying her to do so, on grounds that he has fought dragons, Tarsil for the first time removes his hood to reveal his scarred, hideous face. In reply, Briar pulls back her hood and shows Tarsil's former, more comely face. She then flies over the wall, cuts Tarsil into two halves (possibly a reference to the manner of her own death), and declares the attack. The battle begins; as Rose climbs up a nearby ladder, three arrows are shot at her by Briar, with whom she momentarily locks eyes.

In the dungeon, Fone Bone hears the fight and shouts for the guard. Smiley and Phoney are in the next cell while all the guards have all gone out to fight. At the wall, Gran'ma Ben is striving to drive back the invading hordes of Pawa soldiers and Rat Creatures. The Venu warn her of an attack on the weaker left flank, whereupon she orders them to go there as reinforcements. Three claim that though they will obey, it is because of necessity rather than any possible allegiance to her. She is then pinned down by Pawa soldiers.

Thorn tries to break the iron bars imprisoning herself and her friends, but fails. Fone Bone and Thorn quarrel on the subject of the Crown of Horns: Fone believes that it will destroy everything because Thorn has a piece of the Locust inside herself, whereas Thorn believes that her mother would not have told her to find it if she (Moonwort) had known that it would destroy everything. Fone mentions the possibility that in using the Crown, Thorn will destroy both the Locust and herself — shedding tears out of fear of Thorn's death, whereupon she promises not to use the Crown of Horns. Taneal, a prophetess-like child featured in the previous collection, brings them a hammer by which to break their shackles while she tries to break the bars of their cell. Her brother then frees Phoney and Smiley. Tarsil's soldiers gather, causing Taneal to hide. When they have gone, Taneal, her brother, Phoney, and Smiley look into the others' cell and find that Thorn is comatose. As Smiley tries to break the bars, Taneal tells the others that Tarsil was killed and Gran'ma Ben overwhelmed by the Pawa soldiers. Hearing this Thorn wakes, pulls the confining chains from the wall to which they are attached, tears open her cell, and asks in anger, "Which way is the gate?".

Mim

This chapter is a short story of 4 or 5 pages taking place in Thorn's dream. The Red Dragon asks Thorn to look into a light and try to see beyond it. The Red Dragon then tells the story of the Queen of Dragons, Mim, wherein she was subject to demonic possession by the Lord of the Locust. This caused a battle that generated the valley that forms the story's setting. Readers see Mim for the first time, though this story had been mentioned in the earlier collection Rock Jaw: Master of the Eastern Border by its titular character, the mountain lion Roque Ja, though he had scorned to believe it historical.

Gaps

Gran'ma Ben, Thorn, and the Bones clamber up a tower, where Thorn may see where all the perilous "ghost circles" are that are surrounding the city. Thorn perceives Rock Jaw in the hills, and then has sudden visions of the valley exploding, and of the Lord of the Locusts. These visions shock her. While the others tend to Thorn, Phoney and Smiley attempt to open the well where the treasure is hidden, thinking to take the treasure. Thorn's visions tell her that the Lord of the Locusts no longer needs her or Briar, because he is possessing his original host, Mim. Phoney and Smiley return to the city's gate with their hay cart (having Smiley's Rat Creature Bartleby and the treasure hidden in the hay), when the farmer who had formerly lost the cart sees it and knocks it over. Bartleby is exposed, whereupon people try to kill him. Bartleby, Phoney, and Smiley narrowly escape. They climb the ladder as Fone and Thorn are coming down, which results in a struggle. As they fight, Thorn disappears. Fone goes after her.

Escape From The City

Fone Bone looks for Thorn on Bartleby's back. They see her running from Rat Creatures by running into ghost circles. To find Thorn while remaining hidden from the Rat Creatures, Fone hides underneath Bartleby, clinging to his stomach fur, suggesting the trick used by Odysseus to conceal his men from Polyphemus. Beyond the Rat Creatures' location, they encounter Thorn as she emerges from a ghost circle. All three climb the mountains to seek the Crown of Horns. At the city, the Pawans are battering the gates; Rose has the door flung open as the Pawas charge. Smiley captures the two Rat Creatures who had pursued the Bone cousins throughout the series and has them spared. Fone and Thorn sneak past Roque Ja in order to reach the dragon graveyard, but fail when Roque Ja sees them. He stares at them for a moment, then lets them leave unharmed. Thorn leaves without Fone Bone by facing an army of their enemies and flying over them, forcing Fone Bone to hide under Bartleby again. They continue to the dragons' graveyard, which Bartleby refuses to enter.

Chamber Of Horns

Smiley has the idea that if he bakes large quantities of food for the two Rat Creatures, they will think that the siege will fail. Phoney and Rose are in a tunnel, leading to Briar's hideout, where they may capture Briar by surprise. Fone is climbing down the huge gorge in the middle of the dragons' graveyard. The Rat Creatures are in pursuit of Thorn.

Homecoming

Thorn goes to look for the Crown of Horns and must leave Fone Bone behind. She reaches the Crown, whereupon the Rat Creatures' chieftain Kingdok appears and tells Thorn to kill him, so as to free him from the Lord of the Locust, under whose control Kingdok thinks himself to be nothing more than a meaningless pawn. Thorn refuses on moral grounds; therefore Kingdok bites her leg and grips it tight in his teeth. She then impales his skull with her sword, thus killing him but leaving his jaw locked around her leg, stopping her from reaching the Crown of Horns.

Briar corners Rose and is attempting to kill her when Lucius arrives and stops her from delivering a death blow to Rose with her scythe. At the same time that this is occurring, Fone Bone arrives to help Thorn and attempts to touch the Crown of Horns himself. At first, nothing happens; moments later, a large number of angry Rat Creatures approach. Fone then takes Thorn's hand and shuffles his feet, building up a static charge which transfers some of Thorn's piece of the Locust to him. He then touches the Crown, triggering an explosion of energy that kills Briar and Lucius. After touching it, Fone and Thorn are floating in a massive area filled with empty space. There is a light far downward, which somehow says "hello" to Fone. Thorn leads him away, saying "We can't go that way. If we do, we can't come back". After flying away, Fone and Thorn "wake up" to find the Chamber of Horns flooded with water and more noises. The water is flowing into the bottomless pit. Thorn says that they woke up all the dragons and there is no hope of escaping Tanen Gard before the dragons arrive. Fone remains optimistic, tying up Thorn's leg and dragging her through the water. The Red Dragon flies in, but instead of killing them, carries them out, warning them that his compatriots will not show the same mercy. The dragon jumps out of Tanen Gard, where they meet Bartelby and tell him to flee. While they are fleeing, Ted manages find them and tells the dragon to go help Gran'ma on Sinner's Rock. When they get there, Mim falls out of her cloud and the dragons that were in pursuit of Fone Bone, Thorn, and the Red Dragon surround her and pull her into Tanen Gard, presumably to give her a proper burial. At Thorn's coronation, Fone Bone is struck with a question from Phoney whether he will stay in The Valley or return to Boneville. As the Bone cousins, Thorn, and Gran'ma Ben leave for Barrelhaven to bury Lucius, Phoney is given his hay wagon that he had lost earlier in the volume. Phoney continuously claims that he sees snowflakes, being paranoid that they may have to wait until winter's end to return to Boneville. After Lucius' burial, Phoney complains to Fone Bone about the snowflakes, and finally, the snow falls in a huge lump outside Barrelhaven.

Solstice

The chapter is a story originally featured in the Bone Holiday Special. The story shows the Bone cousins, Gran'ma Ben and Thorn celebrating Christmas, which they refer to as the "Winter Solstice". Smiley asks Phoney if (and how) they celebrate the Winter Solstice back in Boneville, with Phoney replying that they celebrate it for "different reasons". He then mentions that he makes a great increase of money during the Winter Solstice. As they dance and play instruments, Fone leaves with a platter in his hands. He walks outside and asks for the "guys" to come forth. The Rat Creatures appear and are prepared to eat Fone Bone, but at that moment Fone Bone gives them a quiche. He then returns to the house as the Rat Creatures discuss why Fone Bone did that. One of them assumes it as a ritual, and the other replies "eat your quiche".

River Crossing

After winter, Fone Bone decides to return to Boneville. As the Bones, Gran'ma Ben, Thorn and Bartleby make their way to the Dragon's Stair, they cross a river when they see something move in the bushes. They take out their spears, but then see that it's just Ted and the Dragon. Fone Bone says goodbye to Gran'ma, to the Red Dragon, to the insect Ted, and to Thorn. Thorn gives Fone Bone a basket of biscuits and honey, revealing that she had kept it aside until now in hope that he would change his mind and stay. She then tells him "So much has changed since that day we met at the hot springs, and you walked out of the woods with your hat on fire... but not everything changes. Remember me when you're back in Boneville".

Saddened by this reminder of their first meeting, Fone departs. Before Fone, Smiley, Phoney, and Bartleby leave on their wagon, Gran'ma gives Phoney his gold coins, which Smiley had stamped with Phoney's image on the latter's orders, arguing that no one wants them (except Phoney himself). The Great Red Dragon guides them to the Dragon's Stair. Phoney soon discovers that Smiley has exchanged the treasure for the small cakes of stale bread he prefers. As the Bones and Bartleby enter the desert, Phoney Bone claims to despise the bread cakes, to which Smiley replies that he will grow to like them. Phoney asks for one; at this, Smiley asks to be given a gold coin as payment. When Phoney refuses, Fone insists, on grounds that they are in the desert. This parallels the joke sequence in Out from Boneville, wherein they had similarly discussed a dollar. Template:Bone

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