Range of Ghosts – Elizabeth Bear

About the book
Temur, grandson ofthe Great Khan, is walking away from a battlefield where he was left fordead. All around lie the fallen armies of his cousin and his brother, whomade war to rule the Khaganate. Temur is now the legitimate heir by bloodto his grandfather’s throne, but he is not the strongest. Going into exile isthe only way to survive his ruthless cousin.

Once-Princess Samarkar is climbing the thousandsteps of the Citadel of the Wizards of Tsarepheth. She was heir to theRasan Empire until her father got a son on a new wife. Then she was sentto be the wife of a Prince in Song, but that marriage ended in battle andblood. Now she has renounced her worldly power to seek the magical powerof the wizards. These two will come together to stand against the hiddencult that has so carefully brought all the empires of the Celadon Highway tostrife and civil war through guile and deceit and sorcerous power.

336pages (hardcover)
Publishedon: March 27, 2012
Publishedby: Tor
Thanks to Tor for sending me a copy of thisbook to review.
OccasionallyI get a book in the mail that puts all of my reading plans on halt and consumesall of my extra attention. I dream about these books. I live these books in mymind. I love these books. They completely derail me and I can never find it inmyself to apologize for being derailed by such attention worthy books. Range of Ghosts is one of these.
Range of Ghosts takes place in a worldvery reminiscent of the Far East. The fact that it does remind me so stronglyof the Far East both in landscape and culture is actually a positive. First,the setting is unique enough to feel refreshing to the reader and secondly,it’s not so unique that the reader will have to spend half of the day figuringout what is what. In fact, Bear draws her world so vividly that the uniqueaspects of it, combined with the parts of our world it will remind us of makesthe setting of Range of Ghosts nearlyas real as the world around us.
Therealism is helped, in no small measure, by Bear’s stunning writing. Herlyrical, descriptive prose really bring the story and world to life and makes Range of Ghosts shine, even without allthe plot elements that I enjoyed. In fact, out of the (far too) few books ofBear’s that I’ve read, the writing in Rangeof Ghosts outshines the others by far. The prose fairly leap off the page,making Range of Ghosts a far tooquick read.
Thecharacters are multifaceted and believable within the situations Bear placesthem in. Temur, the grandson of the Great Khan and Once-Princess Samarkar arealmost tragically realistic characters and fascinating in their tragedy. Beardoesn’t shirk from showing the reader all the characters had to give up, andthe reasons why they were driven to these decisions. That’s one thing that Ihave always loved about Bear. She doesn’t shy away from showing the readers thenegative and positive of characters and situations.
Themagic in Range of Ghosts is a bitvague, and while it might bother some to not have all the details on how themagic system works, the lack of details adds a haunting quality to the book. Iactually found very atmospheric for the work as a whole. 
Range of Ghosts isn’t incredibly bloodyor violent, and while there is violence, it’s rather clean and tidies upquickly. The violence is inserted at important points where tension has mountedand never for frivolous reasons. For this reason, fans of uber violent andbloody books might not enjoy Range ofGhosts quite as much as they might expect. The plot is smooth and steadyand, while events happen at a rapid clip, they are never in your face orover-the-top.
It’sno surprise that I loved Range of Ghosts,and I have touted it on Twitter as my favorite book of 2012 so far. So it mightcome as a surprise that I want to end my review with a rather tongue-in-cheekletter directed toward the author and publisher.
DearElizabeth Bear and Tor,
I’msuffering from an epic bout of nerd rage, at the moment, and I feel as thoughthe responsible parties should know what a torment I am going through. You see,Range of Ghosts was an absolutelystunning read in ever aspect. It’s easily my favorite book of 2012 so far andnow it’s over.
It’sOVER and I have NOTHING to turn to because it’s the FIRST BOOK in a TRILOGY andthe next books haven’t been released yet! Oh, the tragedy!
That’sthe cause of my nerd rage. I need more from this series to quench my thirst tofind out what happens next and there’s nothing for me to turn to! So, thissmall letter is my plea for the release of book two as soon as possible. I’mgoing crazy over here. You can’t write a book THAT GOOD and not expect readersto want more now.
Oh, and before I forget, thank you for the cover art. It is absolutely beautiful. 
Yournerd-raging fan/book reviewer,

6 Responses

  • Memory

    I believe I heard someone say that BONE & JEWEL CREATURES, one of Bear's Subterranean Press novellas, is set in the same world as RANGE OF GHOSTS. If that is indeed the case, maybe the novella could help your withdrawal symptoms?

  • Sunny

    Nice review! this sounds like one I need to add to my list, as it sounds like something I would like.
    (love the new look, too!)

  • redhead

    wow! looks like I know what my first Elizabeth Bear novel is going to be!

  • Paul Weimer

    Yes, they are set in the same universe. I haven't read BONE & JEWEL CREATURES, yet, the Subterranean edition is sold out. Pity that.

  • Paul Weimer

    I completely agree with your review, Sarah. The only thing I have to say against it is the lack of a proper ending for this volume. That's really all I can ding this book for.

  • Stefan Fergus

    Hah – loved the "Dear Tor" thing at the end. Going to have to seek this book out. 🙂
    I've never read anything by Bear – always seem to find middle volumes but never the first in series. :s

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