Nov 9

Locus (again) on The Stone in the Skull

The Stone in the Skull by Elizabeth Bear

“Bear’s worldbuilding is, as ever, a richly detailed delight, rendered tangible in cut-glass prose. The precision and care with which she employs language make the landscapes through which her characters move come powerfully to life—and gives those characters, too, powerful presence and compelling life.

It’s an enormously rich and textured novel, magnificently compelling—and really easy to read. Despite its sprawling, epic canvas, its pace is tight, and Bear cuts between plotlines with an adroit eye for tension. The Stone in the Skull is an astonishing delight of a book.” — Locus (Liz Bourke)

Nov 6
2017 (again) on The Stone in the Skull

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.” —

Nov 2
2017 on The Stone in the Skull

The Stone in the Skull by Elizabeth Bear

“The same sustenance that I garnered from the prior trilogy in this world is on offer, here: a nuanced exploration of culture, sexuality, gender, and politics that never loses sight of the singular individual human in all that grandeur. Moments of humor and hubris are sprinkled throughout. The physical and emotional experiences of these people as people form the backbone of the novel as it spreads across its fantastical and massive scope.” —

Oct 30

Barnes & Noble SFF on The Stone in the Skull

The Stone in the Skull by Elizabeth Bear

“From its opening pages, Elizabeth Bear’s The Stone in the Skull wears its virtues on its sleeve, introducing us to two characters, Dead Man and the Gage, who are immediately enigmatic, yet also compelling and achingly human (doubly impressive for the Gage, a towering automaton powered by a human soul).

And this is where the book truly excels, beyond the magic-laced action scenes and top-tier worldbuilding—in the way Bear loads layered relationships between a whole host of characters into a relatively slim page count.

With every new story, Bear leaves her mark on the world. There is a weight to her worldbuilding, to the subtlety of her characterizations. Hers is a mark that identifies the boundlessness of epic fantasy, of worlds created by a singular mind, but shared and enjoyed by many.

The Stone in the Skull begins a fantastic new saga, reminding us that Elizabeth Bear is truly one of the premier fantasists of her generation. If you’ve yet to discover her work, there’s no better time.” — Barnes & Noble SFF

Oct 12

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

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