Feb 20
2014

Starred Kirkus review for conclusion of Elizabeth Bear trilogy

Steles of the Sky by Elizabeth Bear

Wrapping up Bear’s complex and beautifully rendered historical-fantasy trilogy (Shattered Pillars, 2013, etc.). Necromancer and blood-sorcerer al-Sepehr, head of the Nameless assassin cult, arranged to have his daughter Saadet impregnated by Qori Buqa, Khagan of the nomad horse-warrior Empire, whom he then murdered. Re Temur, Qori Buqa’s nephew and the true heir to the Khaganate, decides to raise his banner at Dragon Lake, site of the Khagan’s vast abandoned palace­but how to reach it? Perhaps his companions, the wizard Samarkar, Hrahima, a huge human-tiger Cho-tse warrior, and the silent monk, Brother Hsiung, can find a way through the magic doorways created by the extinct Erem Empire. But Erem magic is deadly poisonous­Brother Hsiung is already half-blind from attempting to study it. Edene, Temur’s woman, escaped from al-Sepehr by stealing a green Erem ring, which gave her command of the ghuls, a slave race created by Erem, and control of the toxic Erem magic and all poisonous creatures, but an evil presence within it whispers to her­and she’s carrying Temur’s child. She must also deal with a djinn who, appearing sporadically and unpredictably, sometimes offers help while admitting he’s bound, against his will, to al-Sepehr. Various other groups­wizards, warriors, empresses, survivors of the civilizations broken by al-Sepehr’s treachery­converge on Dragon Lake. These and other narrative strands progress and interact through fully realized characters whose personalities and motivations arise from the dazzlingly detailed cultures and landscapes from which they derive. If there’s a disappointment, it’s the bipedal tiger Hrahima, a vigorous presence whose background and motivations remain largely unexplored. Notably, apart from the hero and his antagonist, all the leading characters are women. It all adds up to an eminently satisfying conclusion. Considering the trilogy as a whole, the overused term masterpiece justifiably applies. — Kirkus, Starred Review

Jun 17
2013

PW on Bear’s Book of Iron

Book of Iron by Elizabeth Bear

Friends are the family we choose, a maxim that lies at the heart of this short but sharp novella, which ties in to Bear’s Eternal Sky novel series. Bijou the Artificer (first met in 2010’s Bone and Jewel Creatures, here young and eager for adventure) joins the immortal Maledysaunte on a quest to the abandoned city of Ancient Erem to stop Dr. Liebelos, a precisian (wizard of orderliness), from summoning the Iron Book. With them go a crew of allies with mixed motives, including Kaulas the Necromancer, who is Bijou’s lover and rival, and the wizard Salamander, Maledysaunte’s companion and daughter to Dr. Liebelos. Under skies whose moons and suns vary in number, they must confront the threats of legendary beasts and betrayal. Bear injects the fizz of the Roaring ’20s (including travel by roadster, automatic pistols , aeroplanes, and silent movies) into a thoughtful exploration of dealing with loss. — Publishers Weekly

May 9
2013

Locus Award nominations for 2013 are in!

Congratulations to clients in the following categories…

Fantasy Novel:
Glamour in Glass, Mary Robinette Kowal (Tor)

First Novel:
Throne of the Crescent Moon, Saladin Ahmed (DAW; Gollancz ’13)

Novella:
In the House of Aryaman, a Lonely Signal Burns”, Elizabeth Bear (Asimov’s 1/12)
The Stars Do Not Lie”, Jay Lake (Asimov’s 10-11/12)

Novelette:
Faster Gun”, Elizabeth Bear (Tor.com 8/12)
The Lady Astronaut of Mars”, Mary Robinette Kowal (Rip-Off!)

Short Story:
The Deeps of the Sky”, Elizabeth Bear (Edge of Infinity)

Collection:
Shoggoths in Bloom, Elizabeth Bear (Prime)

Full list of nominations here.

Mar 29
2013

Starred PW review for Elizabeth Bear story collection

Shoggoths in Bloom by Elizabeth Bear

Many novelists translate badly to short form, but Hugo award-winner Bear (Range of Ghosts) loses none of her depth or emotional power in this anthology of fierce, lonely tales about sacrifice, bravery, and loss. Missteps—her use of real historical figures in “Sonny Liston Takes the Fall” seems to imply that Muhammad Ali owed his career to another boxer’s mystical sacrifice—are rare. Bear at her best is magical, as in “The Girl Who Sang Rose Madder,” in which a former rock star has to choose between death as an artist and immortality as an undead hack musician. Other standouts include the title story, about a black professor in the 1930s who finds kinship with the Lovecraftian monsters he studies, and “The Cold Blacksmith,” a bittersweet fairy tale about what it takes to mend a heart. As in her novels, Bear’s world-building is absorbingly rich and strange, full of blue parrot cats, ruthless Mongol-ish princesses, and modern alleyways haunted by cockatrices and harpies, and adventurous readers will find her storytelling absolutely irresistible. — Publishers Weekly, Starred Review

Mar 18
2013

PW review of new Elizabeth Bear fantasy

Shattered Pillars by Elizabeth Bear

Imperial intrigue and dark magic haunt the pages of Bear’s second Mongolia-inspired fantasy epic installment (after Range of Ghosts). The necromancer priest al-Sepehr is bringing war to the world, placing his allies and minions throughout the nations to see them crumble. But beyond his control are Edene, who has stolen the green ring that makes her ruler of the ancient and treacherous realm of Erem; bold imperial scion Temur; the wizard and once-princess Samarkar; Hrahima, a warrior of the tiger people; and the silent monk Hsiung, who is touched by the madness of Erem. Temur and his companions wade through court politics until war finds them and they make their way to al-Sepehr’s stronghold to free Edene, not realizing she has already escaped. Bear drives the plot forward through darkness and loss, allowing her heroes little respite between trials as her villains gain power. The building danger and sense of impossible odds beautifully set up the concluding volume. — Publishers Weekly

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