Recent Reads

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Range of Ghosts, by Elizabeth Bear (ARC provided by author): set in a fantasy version of the Silk Road Empires (their cultures spanning the gamut between pseudo-Muslim, pseudo-Mongol and pseudo-Chinese), Range of Ghosts. Temur was left for dead by his uncle in a power struggle–his brother slain, his true name lost, and with a horde of ghosts hunting after him. Meanwhile, Samarkar, who was once a princess, sacrifices her body to become a wizard, away from the petty squabbles of her family. But when an entire city is laid waste by sorcery and hungry ghosts, both Temur and Samarkar find themselves drawn into a fight that could change their entire world…
It’s hard to talk about this book without gushing, because it’s so good. It has Bear’s gorgeous prose and complex characters, as well as intricate worldbuilding that recalls the cultures of the Silk Road–a rarity in a field where non-Western fantasy is still the odd thing out rather than the norm. And the plot zips along from gorgeous set-piece to set-piece (Samarkar’s exploration of the ruined city is wonderful in this regard, conveying both the richness of what has been lost and a growing sense of danger). The one thing I regretted was not having a map (though, as this was an ARC, it might well be that there’s a map in the final edition); and the other was that I was going to have to wait an entire year to get the sequel to this, Steles of the Sky. *want*
Oh, and did I mention the horse? Temur’s mare, Bansh (aka Dumpling) deserves a book of her own. Seriously. She’s so much smarter than any of the characters, and darn if she doesn’t know it, too. I’m not a horse-lover, but I definitely could love this horse to bits. I’m looking forward to seeing what happens to her in the next book.

Obsidian Moon, Obsidian Eye: werewolf Jan Xu is now leader of her pack–and, following the events of Wolf at the Door, hopes to raise her children in peace, and enjoy the company of her pack and her friends in peace. But sinister things are afoot in Singapore’s supernatural world, with the resurgence of a darkness Jan Xu thought banished long ago. At the centre of it all are the Drakes–the Western dragons and fire-breathes, aggressive and eager to make their mark on the city–and Gabriel, a half-drake half-Chinese dragon who seems to be hiding much more than a mixed parentage. When Jan Xu’s friends begin to disappear, she finds herself confronted with an unexpected enemy–and the consequences of something she put behind a long time ago…
I liked Wolf at the Door a great deal, and this is more of the excellent same–except with more polished writing, better structure, and stronger characters. Damask’s Singapore–multi-cultural, multi-ethnic and a crossroads for different cultures–continues to be impressively portrayed, and I just loved seeing the drakes square off against the Asian dragons. I did have one niggle about the fact that Gabriel ended up choosing “sides” (but that’s just my personal belief that mixed-bloods shouldn’t necessarily have to pick one side of the family above the other). But I’m definitely looking forward to more of those characters, and more of that awesome setting.

8 comments

  1. I am really looking forward to Range of Ghosts…

  2. It’s made of awesome. I hope it gets the buzz it deserves.

  3. Whereas I am a horse fanatic. I am so reading this story. Thanks!

  4. :=) It’s well worth it.

  5. “Range of Ghosts” was on my wish list too, but now I am convinced to pick it up when it will be out. It sounds really, really good 🙂

  6. Definitely very good and worth the read. I wanted non-Tolkienesque, nuanced epic fantasy with fantastic and diverse worldbuilding, and this delivered in spades.

  7. This story looks interesting, Actually this is my first time to hear about this story. Thank you very much for sharing it. It caught my attention. I also love stories about fantasies and heroes.

  8. Aliette de Bodard » Blog Archive » Recent Reads – just great!

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