Range of Ghosts - Elizabeth Bear

I read a lot of SFF and so I end up reading a lot of books that are in trilogies (or more), to the point where I now take a lot of persuading before starting a series that I know hasn't been finished yet. Hence, I hadn't got around to reading this book, which is the first in the Eternal Sky trilogy until well after the third book was published.

 

Again, as someone who reads a lot of fantasy, the genre is stuffed full of 'farmboy discovers he is actually a king' stories and this isn't one of those. Nope, of our main characters one knows he is the grandson of the Great Khagan and therefore a prince (though he doesn't really seem overly into it till circumstances force him to be) and the other used to be a princess. Both have been through massive trauma - Temur has survived what ought to have been a killing blow on the battlefield, Samarkar has chosen to have her reproductive organs removed because she might be a wizard, so escaping being married off again for the benefit of her people. 

 

Much of the fantasy written, until recently at least, was very much cod-medieval Europe with a bit of magic thrown in if needed, which is all well and good in itself if written well but that doesn't always seem to be the case. This series is set in something like Central Asia about a century after the death of this place's equivalent to Genghis Khan, with his various grandchildren vying for power and not doing the greatest job of holding onto it once they have it. One major difference from our world (other than the obvious addition of magic and the ability through it to control ghosts etc.) is that the skies above a certain place are different depending on who is in charge of that area, a concept I've seen some reviewers really struggle with.

 

Anyway, the first of a trilogy, all in all really excellently written and strongly-drawn characters. I do have a very minor issue about something that happens right at the end of this book but it's still a book I would wholeheartedly recommend to anyone bored with farmboy-kings. I hope the rest of the trilogy is as good and I'm just waiting for the library to call to say they have the copy of Shattered Pillars I ordered.