This book was a thrilling adventure from beginning to end! It’s like Lord of the Rings meets the Arabian Nights–a rich fantasy realm inspired by cultures of the east. I haven’t read much of Bear’s work, but I will certainly be looking her up after this.
I was lucky to recieve an advance version of the book–the rest of y’all have to wait a while–but believe me, it will be worth the wait. Range of Ghosts follows several point-of-view characters through a world on the verge of magical war. Each character has a distinctive voice and personality that is revealed through every detail of the setting and narration.
For instance, the central protagonist, Temur, belongs to a horse-based culture similar to that of Mongolia. Every place he goes, his first consideration is taking care of his horse. It’s not overbearing, but it is omnipresent. Bear doesn’t need to tell you that the guy is devoted to his mount, she shows you in every little gesture and moment between them.
The cast is varied and each person is engaging in his or her own way, building off of the fantasy trope of the mismatched crew of adventurers. They do have a quest, and a wonderful landscape to traverse in its completion, but they are fully-realized, each pursuing his or her own goals and inner demons as well.
I don’t read much epic fantasy these days, for a variety of reasons. As you know, fake medieval drives me nuts when it fails to capture the complexity of the period it seeks to represent. And so often, authors who deliberately try to break with the fantasy expectations end up smacking the reader in the face–denying the delight of the grand adventure for the sake of some literary ideal. Bear does not shy away from technology (which I appreciate), her magic is resonant, her language inventive. Range of Ghosts returned me to the thrill of discovery, entering a strange new world and closing the door behind me.
I don’t want to spoil much of this marvelous treat of a novel, but I will share with you one of the marvels it contains: as characters pass into areas controled by other deities, the sky above them shifts to reflect the order of the local world–a beautiful detail, which Bear twists to moving and ominous use.