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Range of Ghosts (The Eternal Sky) Paperback – January 29, 2013
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“This lean, sinewy, visceral narrative, set forth in extraordinarily vivid prose full of telling detail, conveys a remarkable sense of time and place, where the characters belong to the landscape and whose personalities derive naturally from it.” ―Kirkus Reviews, starred review
“Elizabeth Bear launches a trilogy in a fantastic new world with this compelling tale…Bear creates a vivid world where wizards must sacrifice their ability to procreate in order to control magic and the sky changes to reflect the gods of the land's rulers. The strong setting and engaging characters will have readers eager for the second installment.” ―Publishers Weekly
About the Author
ELIZABETH BEAR was born on the same day as Frodo and Bilbo Baggins, but in a different year. She was the recipient of the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer in 2005. She has won two Hugo Awards for her short fiction, and her Hammered trilogy is a Locus Award winner.
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Top customer reviews
You have to love a princess who trades her broodmare status for the hope of power.
You have to love a quest group that consists of three women and a dude who respects them all.
If you go to describe this story, it is easy to get tangled in the A plot and the B plot and trying to figure out what's about to go on, but when you're reading it, it's very seamless. As you realize that all these plotlines are converging, the story seems to pick up speed and momentum, tumbling to a not-quite-conclusion.
As usual, Bear's writing shows the toolmarks of master craftsmanship, and once in a while has showstopping images:
"As the sky dimmed, the glow they twinkled in was cast by candles, fixed in glass jars to the shells of ambling tortoises, so as the sun set, the whole of the garden was filled with a moving light. Birds sang themselves to sleep in the tree branches, and the twilight made a canopy overhead."
And one that would be a spoiler, but eek, hungry ghosts!
One of the things I enjoyed most was the exploration of fertility and the consequences of chosen infertility. There were so many details that bespoke long thought about how this could be made to work in a pre-industrial era. There are apples studded with nails to build up iron, and an emphasis on the consumption of soy to provide phytoestrogens. The real chance of death by infection. But the beautiful payoff for all of this is here:
"She folded her legs one atop the other and brought her hands before her groin, where the center of creation had once lived and lived no longer. There was the essence of wizardry. It was an act of creation; it was a pure delight in defiance of hunger, and thirst, and sorrow, and the inevitability of death and devouring. As she had sacrificed the power of creation with her body, so she gained the power of creation with her mind."
As a woman and a mother, I thought this was immensely moving, to take all the iconography of childbearing and turn it into magic available only to those who choose not to bear.
The story is obviously headed toward the second book, but I feel ok about that. In the meantime, I keep having moments where I forget I've finished the book and I look forward to reading more about Samarkar and Temur and Bansh. Will they defeat the rakh-rider? Is Temur about to have some 'splainin to do? Where will they travel next? I'm looking forward to finding out.
This book is so different than the normal fantasy books I am attracted too. However, this was a recommended book on a review web site, and it just caught my eye. I am so glad I gave it a chance. There is magic, sorcery, action, romance and an array of cultures and world building that was outstanding. I was not sure if I would like it when I first started it, but once I got into the flow of the writing and the names of the characters, it was such a joy to read. I never knew what was around the corner and I got so attached to the characters. Even the villains are so interesting, I just could not stop reading it.
There was a cliff hanger ending, so if you are looking for something that is stand alone, this may not be for you, but I cannot wait until the next book to see not only what happens to the characters, but what the author is going to come up with. It is beautifully written, just a wonderful read.
The thing I loved the most was the evident research done in creating the backstory and setting. Hints of a parallel world to ours, with echos of Mongols, Hashashins, Caliphates, China and more (I would love to know from Ms. Bear if the lizard people are Sarmatian based, it does seem so), all fleshed out. And the tiny details are what really hooked me. Hints as why nomads drink fermented mare milk, the discussion of wound heat, all of these made it seem like a truly real place if only magic existed. Based on what I read, I've purchased both of the sequels and hope the story continues to thrill me as much as the first book had.
And then the rest of the story is pretty much traveling. They have a few fights on the road and share some backstory with each other. But until the very last 5% of the book no real progress is made.
And the ending isn't one at all. It's not even a pause. It's just a break until book 2.
Why it's not 1 or 2 stars is the wonderful cultural descriptions. It's an Eastern to Middle Eastern medieval world, not European, and it's subtle and nuanced. But that's pretty much it. Some good scenes but lots of reacting rather than pursuing a goal.
Most recent customer reviews
It reads like a well-thought out reinterpretation of a classic fable, in which a...Read more