Them Bones is the first solo novel by Howard Waldrop, originally published in paperback as one of the Ace Books in 1984. The book is a light confection of alternate histories set in three different historical periods.

The main narrative concerns Madison Yazoo Leake, who was intended to be an advance party for a group of military time travellers attempting to change history and avoid a third world war. Instead he finds himself alone in an America populated by Native Americans who trade with Persians and fight against expansionist Aztecs. He discovers this as he falls in with a tribe of Mound Builders and learns their life and language.

The second period is 1929 where agroup of archaeologists are excavating a Mound which seems to contain anachronistic objects. They are working against a flood which will eventually drown the mounds behind new levees of the Mississippi.

The third thread is a series of dispatch notes from a military encampment which would appear to be the one from which Leake came.

Leake's story is clearly set in an alternate version of history, but the novel is effectively a roman à clef as the reader attempts to relate the three strands of the tale to each other and to our own history. There is also an element of magical realism to Leake's tale which contrasts neatly with the gritty realism of the other storylines.

Them Bones is a thoroughly readable, entertaining-but-lightweight , novel.

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