Nov 102017
 

Cover of The Stone in The Skull by Elizabeth Bear.Locus Magazine: With Elizabeth Bear’s previous novels in the same world: the Eternal Sky trilogy of Range of Ghosts, Shattered Pillars, and Steles of the Sky. That trilogy is one of the best – most deeply thought, carefully structured, and elegantly finished – epic fantasies of the last decades.

Bear’s worldbuilding is, as ever, a richly detailed delight, rendered tangible in cut-glass prose. The precision and care with which she employs language make the landscapes through which her characters move come powerfully to life – and gives those characters, too, powerful presence and compelling life.

It’s an enormously rich and textured novel, magnificently compelling – and really easy to read. Despite its sprawling, epic canvas, its pace is tight, and Bear cuts between plotlines with an adroit eye for tension. The Stone in the Skull is an astonishing delight of a book.

Nov 032017
 

Cover of The Stone in The Skull by Elizabeth Bear.Tor.com: I want to rave about Elizabeth Bear’s The Stone in the Skull. Actually, it feels like I need to rave about it: a glorious, dramatic, lush and striking fantasy set in the same continuity as the Eternal Sky trilogy (Range of Ghosts, Shattered Pillars, and The Steles of the Sky), with a brilliant cast of characters and an opening that involves an ice wyrm attacking a caravan on its way up a frozen river. It’s no exaggeration to say I was hooked from the first page.

Add that to Bear’s amazing worldbuilding, gloriously precise prose, and excellent pacing. And a wonderfully human, humane approach to relationships. The Stone in the Skull is not exactly warm and fuzzy fantasy, but it rejects grimness  and spits in the eye of pragmatism as the major criterion of human relationships. It may not take place in a kind world, but its characters move through their world with compassion. It’s hopeful without being naive. And I really love it.

Oct 312017
 

Photo of earth.Bulgarian rights to Nnedi Okorafor’s WHO FEARS DEATH, to Prozoretz, by Milena Kaplarevic at Prava I Prevodi in association with Katie Shea Boutillier.

Brazilian rights to Nnedi Okorafor’s AKATA WITCH, to Galera, in a three-book deal, by Cristina Purchio of International Editors’ in association with Katie Shea Boutillier.

Hebrew rights to Nebula-nominated Martha Wells’ ALL SYSTEMS RED, the first installment in The Murderbot Diaries, to Nova Press, by Beverley Levit at The Book Publishers Association of Israel in association with Jennifer Jackson and Michael Curry.

French rights to New York Times bestselling author Anne Bishop’s ETCHED IN BONE, Book 5 of the Others series, and to LAKE SILENCE, a stand alone novel in the world of the Others, to Bragelonne, by Anna Jarota and Juliana Miasso at Anna Jarota Agency in association with Jennifer Jackson.

Czech rights to USA Today bestselling author Kaira Rouda’s BEST DAY EVER, to Dobrovsky, by Milena Kaplarevic at Prava I Prevodi in association with Katie Shea Boutillier.

Oct 272017
 

Cover of The Stone in The Skull by Elizabeth Bear.Tor.com: The same sustenance that I garnered from the prior trilogy in this world is on offer, here: a nuanced exploration of culture, sexuality, gender, and politics that never loses sight of the singular individual human in all that grandeur. Moments of humor and hubris are sprinkled throughout. The physical and emotional experiences of these people as people form the backbone of the novel as it spreads across its fantastical and massive scope.

Oct 202017
 

Cover of The Stone in The Skull by Elizabeth Bear.B&N SFF Blog: From its opening pages, Elizabeth Bear’s The Stone in the Skull wears its virtues on its sleeve, introducing us to two characters, Dead Man and the Gage, who are immediately enigmatic, yet also compelling and achingly human (doubly impressive for the Gage, a towering automaton powered by a human soul).

And this is where the book truly excels, beyond the magic-laced action scenes and top-tier worldbuilding­in the way Bear loads layered relationships between a whole host of characters into a relatively slim page count.

With every new story, Bear leaves her mark on the world. There is a weight to her worldbuilding, to the subtlety of her characterizations. Hers is a mark that identifies the boundlessness of epic fantasy, of worlds created by a singular mind, but shared and enjoyed by many.

The Stone in the Skull begins a fantastic new saga, reminding us that Elizabeth Bear is truly one of the premier fantasists of her generation. If you’ve yet to discover her work, there’s no better time.

Oct 172017
 

Cover of An Amish Proposal by Jo Ann Brown.Pregnant and without options, Katie Kay Lapp is trapped between two worlds—abandoned by her baby’s Englisch father, not ready to return to her Amish family. With nowhere to go, she’s rescued by the unlikeliest of heroes—the man whose heart she shattered. Months ago, Micah Stoltzfus courted her, envisioned a future with her, until she chose the big city over him. Now bound by duty to protect mother and child, Micah offers a solution—marriage. Though his heart never healed, he still cares for the Amish beauty. He knows he’ll be the father Katie Kay’s baby needs…but can he show her he’s also the love she’s always wanted?

Oct 162017
 

Cover of The Stone in The Skull by Elizabeth Bear.Locus: Full disclaimer: I haven’t read Elizabeth Bear’s first trilogy set in the Eternal Sky world (Range of Ghosts, etc.) but am also not sure it matters. While I’m sure a reading of The Stone in the Skull would be enhanced by knowing about this world before dropping into it, that knowledge is not required to enjoy the visit there. And it is enjoyable.

The story opens with the Gage, a brass automaton, and the Dead Man, a drifter, of sorts, trudging over ice-choked mountains to deliver a message to a queen in the damp land of Sarathai-tia. Mrithuri, said queen, is undertaking a public ritual involving lotus flowers – and the results of said ritual indicate that changes are about to come. Thus, the plot is launched.

What works so well in just about every Bear book are her characters, which always feel finely drawn and solidly connected to the story they are in. The plot hews closely to the whole band-of-rogues-assemble-to-fight-stronger-band-of-foes, but this is a feature rather than a bug. Bear noodles around that trope like a jazz master and takes the story to some interesting places where she can examine privilege, toxic pasts, and gender identities – with, of course, magic and mayhem and mud. Lots and lots of mud.

It’s hard to talk about the first book in a trilogy, if only because it isn’t intended to feel like it comes to a complete closure. This book ends by setting the next part of the story up well and making this reader wish she had the next book within arm’s reach so that she can find out what happens next.

Oct 132017
 

Cover for Jim Butcher's Wild Card, a Dresden Files graphic novel.DLMA congratulates Jim Butcher on winning two 2017 Dragon Awards!

Best Comic Book:
The Dresden Files: Dog Men, by Jim Butcher, Mark Powers, Diego Galindo

Best Graphic Novel:
Jim Butcher’s The Dresden Files: Wild Card, by Jim Butcher, Carlos Gomez

Oct 112017
 

Cover of The Stone in The Skull by Elizabeth Bear.RT Reviews: Bear skillfully weaves a brand-new saga into the landscape of her famed worlds from previous novels, hinting at the histories but not relying on them. The new stories and characters are fresh and captivating, from the young monarch with the creepiest drug addiction, to the elderly poet-warrior with the subversive skillset. There is little to critique here, though the romances can seem extraneous and unnecessary. The near-apocalyptic cliffhanger leaves the reader anxious for more. A definite must-read, and one to highlight in anticipation for the sequel.

The Gage and the Dead Man carry a message of great importance­ if only they can make it through the Steles of the Sky without being halted by weather, ice wyrms, or war. The recipient of their message, the Rajni of the Lotus Kingdom, has received foreboding auguries from every corner of her domain, and new threats seem to approach every day. Can they come together and decipher the message before the auguries come to pass?

Oct 102017
 

Cover of The Stone in The Skull by Elizabeth Bear.Hugo Award–winning author Elizabeth Bear returns to her critically acclaimed epic fantasy world of the Eternal Sky with a brand new trilogy.

The Stone in the Skull, the first volume in her new trilogy, takes readers over the dangerous mountain passes of the Steles of the Sky and south into the Lotus Kingdoms.

The Gage is a brass automaton created by a wizard of Messaline around the core of a human being. His wizard is long dead, and he works as a mercenary. He is carrying a message from a the most powerful sorcerer of Messaline to the Rajni of the Lotus Kingdom. With him is The Dead Man, a bitter survivor of the body guard of the deposed Uthman Caliphate, protecting the message and the Gage. They are friends, of a peculiar sort.

They are walking into a dynastic war between the rulers of the shattered bits of a once great Empire.