Jan 16
2012

Starred Review from Kirkus for start of new Elizabeth Bear trilogy

Range of Ghosts by Elizabeth Bear

Beginning of a new historical-fantasy trilogy, set in the same Mongol Khanate-style universe as the short novel Bone and Jewel Creatures (2010). Along the Celadon Highway, the empire of the Great Khagan is embroiled in civil war. A grandson, Temur, supported his defeated elder brother in terrible battles against his usurping uncle Qori Buqa. In the country of the Eternal Sky, a moon sails in the heavens for each of Mongke Khagan’s sons and grandsons. Once there were over a hundred, now less than a third remain, Temur’s Iron Moon among them. Though badly wounded, Temur survives, attaches himself to one of the wandering clans of the steppes and takes Edene as his woman. Meanwhile Qori Buqa allies himself with al-Sepehr, an ambitious renegade blood-sorcerer cultist of the Uthman Caliphate. Al-Sepehr raises an army of ghosts to kill Temur, but fails; instead the sorcerer snatches Edene and brings her to his stronghold of Al-Din. Meanwhile, Samarkar, a wizard of Tsarepheth in the Rasan Empire, where another, less bloody, power struggle is going on, learns of sorcerous doings in the city Qeshqer and travels to investigate. Here she meets Temur, who’s searching for Edene. They will be joined by Hrahima, a huge human-tiger Cho-tse, who has traveled from Ctesifon with more bad news. The Khagan Empire is Temur’s to claim-if he can survive the plots of Qori Buqa.

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. Though the book is not self-contained, Bear provides this opener with enough of a resolution to satisfy while whetting the appetite for more. Gripping, perfectly balanced and highly recommended. –Kirkus, Starred Review

Jul 26
2011

PW on next Iskryne novel

The Tempering of Men by Elizabeth Bear and Sarah Monette

Bear and Monette follow 2007’s Companion to Wolves with another tale of the frozen northern lands of Iskryne inhabited by Wolfcarls and their telepathically bonded trellwolves. When wolves mate, so do their humans–leaving thoroughly heterosexual Isolfr, the bond-mate of Queen-wolf Viradechtis, in an uncomfortable position with Skjaldwulf and Vethulf, men bonded to Viradechtis’s consorts. The Wolfcarls have at long last vanquished the trolls who plagued Iskryne, but without a common enemy, their tenuous alliance with the mysterious Svartalfar has become even more fragile, while the nearby Rhean Empire turns its ambitions northwards. Vethulf and Skjaldwulf must forge a new path for their people and a new understanding in their relationship if either of them is to survive. This well-wrought tale serves as an exciting adventure as well as a thought-provoking and often disturbing deconstruction of companion animal fantasies. — Publishers Weekly

Jul 14
2011

RT reviews new Bear/Monette fantasy

The Tempering of Men by Elizabeth Bear and Sarah Monette

Every bit as absorbing as the first volume, The Tempering of Men is compelling and intensely readable. Told from multiple perspectives, the characters are well-drawn and distinct, especially Brokkolfr and Amma, his amusingly maternal wolf-sister. Monette and Bear each excel at creating unique worlds when writing solo fiction, so it’s no surprise that this joint effort combines their strengths into something extraordinary. –RT Book Review, 4 ½ Stars, Top Pick!

Feb 4
2011

PW reviews last of Bear’s Jacob’s Ladder trilogy

Grail by Elizabeth Bear

This deftly told story completes the Jacob’s Ladder trilogy begun in Dust and Chill. The Conns and the other inhabitants of an ancient wandering spaceship face their last and greatest challenge. They’ve finally found a habitable planet, but others beat them to it: “right-minded” humans, surgically altered to achieve emotional balance, and more alien to the Jacobites than extraterrestrials would be. Leaders on both ship and planet are willing to fight and kill to keep the two cultures from interacting, while old enemies aboard the Jacob’s Ladder re-emerge to wreak destruction. The story is poised on a knife’s edge, with the Jacobites facing both possible annihilation and inner demons just as they’re closing in on their goal. Bear’s talent for portraying cultural divergence and conflict is especially apparent in this intense wrapup. –Publishers Weekly

Dec 28
2010

PW review of new entry in Elizabeth Bear’s New Amsterdam series

The White City by Elizabeth Bear

Hugo winner Bear (The Sea Thy Mistress) begins her new short novel with a deceptive catalog of steampunk clichés—alternate history, a plucky heroine, and the obligatory zeppelins—before veering in a radically different direction with a double-threaded detective story plot. Two murders in Moscow, one in 1897 and the other in 1903, are linked to a single woman. But this is no mere costumed crime story: the Tsarist police employ forensic sorcerers, and vampires and their elegant “courts” of human hangers-on are accepted members of society. The pace is brisk, the characters are well-realized, and the resultant delvings into darkness are certain to keep genre readers entertained to the end. The sole cause for disappointment is that things wrap up too quickly and easily, with limited exposure to the strange minds of Bear’s decidedly post-human vampires.

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