Oct 12
2017

Locus on The Stone in the Skull

The Stone in the Skull by Elizabeth Bear

“What works so well in just about every Bear book are her characters, which always feel finely drawn and solidly connected to the story they are in. The plot hews closely to the whole band-of-rogues-assemble-to-fight-stronger-band-of-foes, but this is a feature rather than a bug. Bear noodles around that trope like a jazz master and takes the story to some interesting places where she can examine privilege, toxic pasts, and gender identities – with, of course, magic and mayhem and mud. Lots and lots of mud.

It’s hard to talk about the first book in a trilogy, if only because it isn’t intended to feel like it comes to a complete closure. This book ends by setting the next part of the story up well and making this reader wish she had the next book within arm’s reach so that she can find out what happens next.” — Locus

Oct 9
2017

RT Book Reviews on The Stone in the Skull

The Stone in the Skull by Elizabeth Bear

“Bear skillfully weaves a brand-new saga into the landscape of her famed worlds from previous novels, hinting at the histories but not relying on them. The new stories and characters are fresh and captivating, from the young monarch with the creepiest drug addiction, to the elderly poet-warrior with the subversive skillset. There is little to critique here, though the romances can seem extraneous and unnecessary. The near-apocalyptic cliffhanger leaves the reader anxious for more. A definite must-read, and one to highlight in anticipation for the sequel.” — RT Book Reviews, 4 stars

Sep 27
2017

Library Journal starred review for The Stone in the Skull

The Stone in the Skull by Elizabeth Bear

“Two masterless mercenaries lead a caravan across the mountains known as the Steles of the Sky in this latest novel set in Bear’s lushly constructed “Eternal Sky” universe. The Dead Man was previously a loyal guard from the toppled Uthman Caliphate, while his partner is a Gage, a mechanical automaton who was once human. They have an urgent message to deliver to Mrithuri, the queen of one of the small Lotus Kingdoms, remnants of a shattered empire. Little do they know that they are walking into a war zone as enemies are poised to attack Mrithuri from all sides. Bear’s outstanding worldbuilding includes an India-inspired land, where the night sky is lit by a wash of stars brighter by far than the dark sun that rises each day. The diverse cast includes plenty of strong women, and the Dead Man and Gage are a team readers will want to follow for many more adventures. VERDICT “The Eternal Sky” trilogy (Range of Ghosts; Shattered Pillars; Steles of the Sky) is one of the great fantasy epics of the last decade, and Bear triumphantly returns to that setting, albeit a small corner that she has not previously explored.” — Library Journal, Starred Review

Aug 21
2017

Publishers Weekly starred review for The Stone in the Skull

The Stone in the Skull by Elizabeth Bear

“With a glorious and dramatic story, Bear begins a stunning new series set in the same world as her Eternal Sky trilogy. South of towering mountains lie the Lotus Kingdoms, an analog of our own Indian subcontinent. The Dead Man, once guard to a caliph who’s now dead himself, and the Gage, a hulking brass automaton, protect a caravan that travels over the mountain passes and down into the Lotus Kingdoms during monsoon season. The pair bear a message from the Eyeless One, a powerful wizard, to Mrithuri, ruling rajni of Sarathai-tia, who seeks a way to put off her powerful male cousins and secure her country. Both Mrithuri and her cousin, Sayeh Rajni of Ansh-Sahal, receive dark omens of further threats to their rule. With sumptuous prose, Bear details the opulence of royal courts, a sodden journey, and intricate rituals. Colors, textures, and aromas enrich her descriptions of lands that stand on the brink of war. Bear’s worldbuilding stretches from the Cauled Sun in the heavens to the vast ecosystem of Mother River Sarathai, and her characters nod to fantasy archetypes while remaining individual.” — Publishers Weekly, Starred Review

Aug 3
2017

Booklist on The Stone in the Skull

The Stone in the Skull by Elizabeth Bear

“Readers familiar with Bear’s work will recognize the city of Messaline and the names of the Lotus Kingdoms, but this is the farthest she’s delved into this shattered empire. As usual, the setting is wonderfully realized; the characters are possessed of depth, personality, and individuality; the threads of politics that drive the plot are a fascinating knot to try to unravel. This is a promising beginning indeed for an epic; there are many lines of story left to follow, and it will no doubt be a magnificent journey.” — Booklist

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