Ahoy there me mateys! This here be a combined review of the last two books in the Eternal Sky trilogy. While I try to post no spoilers, ye have been forewarned and continue at yer own peril . . .
I have to review these books together because I read them back to back and thus they have blended into one whole. The books follow Temur and Samarkar and friends as they try to destroy a cult and save the world. This series continues to be odd in that the plot sort of plods along. The pacing is uneven and the action is varied and doesn’t always make sense in terms of storytelling and flow.
This is one of those tales where book two is all the various players traveling about. I normally hate those. However, the imagery of 12th and 13 century Asia and the character growth kept me reading. I still absolutely love Hrahima, Temur, Samarkar, and Brother Hsiung. However I also fell in love with Saadet, Hong-la, and Tsering. I very much enjoyed the newer perspectives. Saadet was on the “bad” side and yet I sympathized with her more than I expected. And as in the first book, the pacing picked up in the second half and I liked it much better than the beginning.
In book three the sides have hunkered down to prepare for the grand battle. I was not as excited about the battle plan parts. Most of what I thought would happen during the battle did even if all the details weren’t guessed correctly. In fact the entire battle was lacklustre and there never seemed to be any urgency to it. Most of the planning happened off the page. And yet I was immersed once again in the characters and was mostly content reading along. One of the best parts about these two books was Edene. Her role was the one where there were multiple surprises in store. Actually, the females in this book win hands down.
The ending of the book was kinda weird and didn’t tie up lots of loose ends. A small sampling – Namri Songstan, Lady Dio, the dragons, Woman-King Tzitzik and the artifact, the glass demons, the blood ghosts, etc. There is no real closure. I mean I didn’t hate what happened. I just need to know what comes after the great battle has ended. I mean it was plain that women were going to set the future in motion. But how!?!
All the criticism of pacing and plot aside, I really did enjoy the story for the setting and characters. I love watching women gain and keep agency. I have no regrets. One series down! Arrr!
Side note: I think Ümmühan would make a great wizard in the future.
Goodreads has this to say about book two:
The Shattered Pillars is the second book of Bear’s The Eternal Skytrilogy and the sequel to Range of Ghosts. Set in a world drawn from our own great Asian Steppes, this saga of magic, politics and war sets Re-Temur, the exiled heir to the great Khagan and his friend Sarmarkar, a Wizard of Tsarepheth, against dark forces determined to conquer all the great Empires along the Celedon Road.
Elizabeth Bear is an astonishing writer, whose prose draws you into strange and wonderful worlds, and makes you care deeply about the people and the stories she tells. The world of The Eternal Sky is broadly and deeply created—her award-nominated novella, “Bone and Jewel Creatures” is also set there.
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