I’m completely and utterly gaga over this series and this cover. Seriously, if you haven’t, read my reviews of Range of Ghosts and Shattered Pillars to find out why I think this trilogy is “one of the finest fantasy trilogies of the past decade.” It’s extra wonderful that Tor has wrapped the three books in such unique, gorgeous art from Donato Giancola. There are few books slated for 2014 release that I’m anticipating more than Steles of the Sky.
Posts Tagged: Elizabeth Bear
“I am the Ruined Queen. Nothing of Erem can harm me. And we must drill, my soldiers. You must practice for war.”
Range of Ghosts (REVIEW), the first volume of Elizabeth Bear’s fantasy trilogy, The Eternal Sky, was something of a revelation. At once it it managed to be full of life, of individuality, yet still reminiscent of the Fantasy genre’s adventurous roots in the ’80s and ’90s with Brooks, Feist and Eddings, and beyond that to the Sword & Sorcery of Leiber and Howard. Bear’s fictional world, deeply inspired by the steppes of Mongolia, the jungles of south-east Asia and the majestic Himalayans, was as heartbreakingly beautiful as it was fun and thoughtful. In 2013, there’s little else I ask for from a Fantasy novel than that it remains inclusive and progressive. When a novel has these qualities, and also manages to echo those early touchstone novels without feeling derivative, it’s like literary heaven. I had never read a novel by Bear before, and so was sheltered from preconceptions and expectations going into Range of Ghosts. Shattered Pillars, now, has the misfortune of being judged as the sequel to a book that I consider a beacon of hope for the future of epic fantasy. I once wrote about the dangers of reader expectation, yet I begin few novels with so high a level of expectation as I did when I opened Shattered Pillars. Continue reading
The conversation in the genre blogosphere lately has been leaning heavily to grittiness, grimdark, and whether they serve a purpose—and whether there’s any difference between the two. A lot of bloggers and commenters seem to be settling on the idea that “grimdark” is the pejorative, so perhaps that is how I will use it here.
Now, I love a good tragedy as much as the next guy. If the next guy is William Shakespeare.
I believe in fiction where actions have consequences, and sometimes terrible prices are paid, and sometimes good people meet fates you wouldn’t wish on Count Rugen. I would argue that darkness and uncertainty are a needful thing; that without them, there are no stakes, no emotional engagement. Continue reading
Epic Fantasy is in the midst of something of an identity crisis. See, mainstream readers love to lap up recognizable tales of valourous kitchen boys, big magic, elves, dwarves and warring kingdoms. Such novels sell like hotcakes, and publishing companies love them. And why not? We all grew up on it, didn’t we? Terry Brooks, Raymond E. Feist, Barbara Hambly, or Tad Williams — they built worlds unlike any we’d ever seen before. On the other hand, there are more critical fans who, perhaps, associate their love of Fantasy with an ever-expanding need to find works that push the boundaries of imagination, explore the issues of culture, politics and gender in our world through the lens of an imaginary universe where rules are different, where freedom and fairness might exist.
There have always been authors who push against these boundaries set on the subgenre by its legion of fans. Early in her career, Robin Hobb released the Farseer trilogy, which took the foundations built upon by Tad Williams and Robert Jordan and refined and redefined them, crafting a world and genre that was familiar, but spun the tropes (kitchen-boy-turns-king becomes bastard-prince-becomes-assassin; not an elf or dwarf in sight and conflicts that are cultural, rather than racial) in new, interesting ways. Going even further back, Terry Brooks revitalized Fantasy from its post-Tolkien doldrums by effectively re-telling modern Fantasy’s greatest tale, but, alongside him was Stephen Donaldson and his The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant, the Unbeliever trilogy, a work with similar roots to Brooks’ The Sword of Shannara, but an entirely different interpretation and subversion of genre tropes. While pushing the genre forward isn’t entirely anathema to commercial success, it’s a rare few authors who have managed to capture lightning in a bottle with their daring works. Continue reading
Jonathan Strahan, a popular anthologist, has announced his next project, Fearsome Journeys, a collection of stories from some of today’s best traditional Fantasy authors. The Table of Contents is impressive:
- Introduction, Jonathan Strahan
- “The Effigy Engine: A Tale of the Red Hats”, Scott Lynch
- “Amethyst, Shadow, and Light “, Saladin Ahmed
- “Camp Follower”, Trudi Canavan
- “The Dragonslayer of Merebarton “, K J Parker
- “leaf and branch and grass and vine”, Kate Eliott
- “Spirits of Salt: A Tale of the Coral Sword”, Jeffrey Ford
- “Forever People”, Robert V S Redick
- “Sponda the Suet Girl and the Secret of the French Pearl”, Ellen Klages
- “Shaggy Dog Bridge: A Black Company Story”, Glen Cook
- “The Ghost Makers”, Elizabeth Bear
- “One Last, Great Adventure”, Ellen Kushner & Ysabeau Wilce
- “The High King Dreaming”, Daniel Abraham
I mean, I was sold on this by Daniel Abraham alone (we all know of the enormous crush I have on the man’s fiction), but look at the rest of that Table of Contents: Bear, Kushner, Ahmed, Parker, Lynch? It’s like Strahan reached into my mind and gathered together a list of authors to appeal directly to me. I suppose the list of included stories is a little short, but, given the amount of short fiction that I read (i.e. not enough), I’ll take quality over quantity with a smile on my face. Also, note that the page count is listed at 416 pages, meaning an average of 33 pages per story. This collection reminds me a lot of Swords & Dark Magic, also edited by Strahan, alongside Lou Anders, which collected some wonderful authors together to celebrate the resurgence of Sword & Sorcery-styled Fantasy. Strahan suggests that this could be the beginning of a new series of anthologies, thought that depends on the success of this publication. So, well, buy it, damn you.
Fearless Journeys will be released on May 28th, 2013 by Solaris Books.