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Bone and Jewel Creatures Hardcover – March 31, 2010

12 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Into a slim volume Bear packs the kind of intrigue, detailed world building, and passionate characters found in her longer books. Aging artificer Bijou, a wizard of Messaline, remains spry because she works the forge during the building of her beloved bone and jewel creatures. One equinox, her former apprentice Brazen brings her a feral child, poisoned by sorcery, and Bijou fashions an arm of bones and pearl for it. The child, whom Bijou calls Emeraude, turns out to be the opening salvo in a battle between Bijou and her old nemesis and former lover, who has created a plague that is poisoning the city. Bijou, of course, is the only one with any hope of saving the city from this necromancy. In the ensuing struggle, decades of betrayal are finally resolved. Because of the scale of the novella, many things are only hinted in it, so artfully that what are tantalizing glimpses of its world seem much, much larger than the page count would seem to allow. --Regina Schroeder
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 133 pages
  • Publisher: Subterranean Press; 1 edition (March 31, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1596062746
  • ISBN-13: 978-1596062740
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 5.6 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,592,229 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Stefan VINE VOICE on August 6, 2010
Format: Hardcover
In Bone and Jewel Creatures, a beautiful new novella by Elizabeth Bear, Bijou the Artificer creates her own servants and companions by animating bones. When her former apprentice, Brazen the Enchanter, brings her a feral, mute child, she is presented with the challenge of fixing its misshapen arm... which is also infected by a mysterious disease that soon turns out be the first sign of a sorcerous plague.

At just 136 pages, Bone and Jewel Creatures packs a strong punch. Bijou is a fascinating main character -- an aging wizard surrounded by her own wondrous creatures, some of which, by themselves, make this book worth reading. The arrival of the feral child sets off a complex plot involving Bijou's past, the political history of the land, an intriguing religion, and three distinct modes of magic. There's quite a lot more material packed into this short novella than you'd initially expect -- and as with all the best novellas, you'll be satisfied with the ending while at the same time hoping for future stories set in the same world.

The story is told in gorgeous prose, frequently very lyrical and on a few occasions even surprisingly funny. The combination of the poetic style and the main character's occupation at times made me think of Bijou as an older version of Casimira from Catherynne M. Valente's Palimpsest -- and readers who enjoyed that excellent novel may well enjoy Bone and Jewel Creatures. Recommended.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By S. Sears on July 9, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I bought this book on a whim while I was looking for something new and I am really glad I did. It was an interesting and compelling story with types of characters that rarely get the spotlight in this genre. I would love to read more stories set in the world of this book.
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By Kae on May 13, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Stories about wizards and sorcery aren't usually my preference; the interesting title and cover compelled me to take this from my public library shelf.
I was not sorry. Elizabeth Bear's story about a wizardry power struggle was--enchanting :-)

Protagonist Bijou, is an artificer who creates and animates creatures from bone, gem and other inanimate objects. She is old, and her thoughts and struggles with her infirmities are well told. The reader will also sense she has a "past." This aspect of mystery is enhances when her former apprentice and colleague, Brazen the Enchanter, brings her a feral child with a withered and festering arm. Bijou agrees to help the child, although she feels discomfited by the circumstances. Her worries are substantiates when she discovers a purposefully placed item in the child's rotting hand that is causing the limb deterioration. She suspects who has done this, but isn't sure why.

In this well-written novella, Bear gives three points of view: Bijou, Brazen, and the child Emeraude. Bear moves effectively from one to the other in clearly-delineated passages that add dimension to the story. The writing and vivid descriptions quickly immersed me in this magical world, from Bijou's workshop and her intricate companions she constructed, to the surrounding City of Jackals. I enjoyed the book, and the brevity seemed fitting for the story. Too much more could have been too much.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
My pleasure spots:

1. A thorough grasp of the human condition,
2. An honest, head-on depiction of evil - not a caricature of it,
3. Total absence of GRATUITOUS nastiness,
4. Children being given what they need in a non-sentimental way,
5. Animals being saved - in a non-sentimental way,
6. Old women done well (they're neither witches, nor sages of great wisdom, nor children with wrinkles & ailments),
7. Young women done well (not just martial-art/weapons experts with Barbie bodies),
8. Men (young and old) done well,
9. Neither men nor women being the Source Of All Evil,
10. Neither men nor women being condescended to, or ridiculed,
11. Everyone is not white all the time, or even most of the time, and sometimes not at all,
12. Excellent world-building,
13. Good flow and pacing in the narrative,
14. Good balance between action and complex character development,
15. A poet's ear for words, images, & rhythm,
16. And - that rarest of things - a story without explosions that's nevertheless devastating.
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By Nanette Furman on September 19, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I love her writing, and this is a lovely novella, but felt truncated, part, perhaps, of a larger work. Or a piece hanging out in her brain that had to be got out, but had not yet a larger context? I am rather hoping for a fitting context for it further down the line. I confess to preferring novel length or even longer story lines. Don't ignore this, but be aware of a feeling of abruptness in the end.
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By PAW on November 25, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Different, but not so different I could not put myself in the book. A great escape book. I felt true empathy for the main character.
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