Book Cover
Title Range of Ghosts
Author Elizabeth Bear
Cover Art Donato
Publisher Tor - 2012
First Printing Tor - 2012
Book Cover
Title Shattered Pillars
Author Elizabeth Bear
Cover Art Donato
Publisher Tor - 2015
First Printing Tor - 2013
Book Cover
Title Steles of the Sky
Author Elizabeth Bear
Cover Art Donato
Publisher Tor - 2014
First Printing Tor - 2014
Category Epic fantasy
Warnings None
Main Characters Temur, Samarkar, Hrahima, Hsuing, Bansh, Tsering, Edene, al-Sepehr
Main Elements Wizards, gods, djinn

Click to read the summaryRange of Ghosts

Click to read the summaryShattered Pillars

Click to read the summarySteles of the Sky

I was so excited to read this series. I'd read a fictionalized but historical account of Ghengis Khan and was eager to see what an author could do with the Mongol culture if she threw a little magic into the mix. Unfortunately I was a bit disappointed. It wasn't that the Mongol/Chinese/Turkish/Ukrainian/etc cultures weren't there, with that little magic thrown in. And the characters were interesting and varied enough. But there was just some sort of spark missing that would take it from a way to pass the time, to be a world where I could disappear into, characters I'd like to meet and know. But if I were to try to tell the author that one key ingredient that was missing, I wouldn't be able to do it. Fortunately I got the first book for free from Tor so I only had to pay for two of them (and those trade paperbacks are expensive!!)

What I did like? The very unique idea that depending on who ruled a particular territory the skies would change. I thought that was a lovely idea, completely magical and unlike anything I'd read before, and I was eager always to see what the new skies would be like (some had more than one star, some multiple moons, some were pale blue, some almost purple, and one was deadly). Also the various mythological creatures from the various cultures appear, from Chinese dragons, the Russian Indrik and the Arabic rukh and djinn.

And then there was Bansh, she might be a Steppe mare, trained for battle, but those ponies are a breed apart with their metallic coat of one of the 64 sacred colours.

On the negatives, it seemed like unless they were neutered like the Wizards of Tserapeth, all the women were getting pregant all the time. And if they weren't pregnant they were talking about getting pregnant, or had just been pregnant, and this even applied to the horse. I know this is a natural process, and back then there were a lot more women getting pregnant all the time, but in a book where there are a lot of strong women I almost got distracted from that with all the babies popping out of them all the time...

The second book also included a very bizarre, and horrifying plague which felt like a massive distraction to the overall storyline. After all Temur and company are the protagonists, but they achieve almost nothing in the second book, all the page space was dedicated to this seeming unrelated disease. Though those characters and even the plague itself will play a roll in the third book, it prevented me from caring about Temur and company because, well, they're mainly spinning their wheels and so not very interesting.

But for what it's worth, while I found the first two books uninspired, about halfway through the third book I suddenly connected and got truly involved. I honestly didn't see how all the various storylines would resolve, but they do and they resolve well. The final battle wasn't rushed as sometimes happens, the ending was very satisfying, and in fact, very unexpected!

In conclusion, overall it was an ok read. It wasn't bad, and it definitely had a lot of unique and interesting worldbuilding concepts, it just wasn't as good as other books I'd been enjoying lately and I had a high expectation going in. I'm not sure I'll read it again, but in the end didn't feel I'd wasted my time reading it either.

Posted: July 2017


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