The Stone in the Skull by Elizabeth Bear

A second review from

“I want to rave about Elizabeth Bear’s The Stone in the Skull. Actually, it feels like I need to rave about it: a glorious, dramatic, lush and striking fantasy set in the same continuity as the Eternal Sky trilogy (Range of Ghosts, Shattered Pillars, and The Steles of the Sky), with a brilliant cast of characters and an opening that involves an ice wyrm attacking a caravan on its way up a frozen river. It’s no exaggeration to say I was hooked from the first page.

Add that to Bear’s amazing worldbuilding, gloriously precise prose, and excellent pacing. And a wonderfully human, humane approach to relationships. The Stone in the Skull is not exactly warm and fuzzy fantasy, but it rejects grimness ­and spits in the eye of pragmatism as the major criterion of human relationships. It may not take place in a kind world, but its characters move through their world with compassion. It’s hopeful without being naive. And I really love it.” —