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3.74 of 5 stars 3.74  ·  rating details  ·  1,152 ratings  ·  226 reviews
Just as legends and fragments of history from ancient Britain became the Arthurian tales we know—the story of Wyatt Earp, Doc Holliday, the Clantons and others, told and retold in innumerable stories and dramatizations, has became a great American myth.

In Emma Bull’s Territory, some of the mystery of that brooding, puzzling tale is accounted to the hitherto unrealized pres...more
Paperback, 320 pages
Published December 6th 2011 by Tor Books (first published July 10th 2007)
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Apr 02, 2010 Jeffrey rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Emma Bull fans, fantasy fans who like different venues
I am a big fan of Emma Bull's books which have various settings. One thing they all share is the magical prose. Bull is a pretty good stylist and she writes well. This book is an unconventional take on the events prior to the Gunfight at the OK Corral. The story opens with a stage coach robbery in which 2 men are killed. The robbers are 4 men -- one of whom is secretly Morgan Earp -- Wyatt Earp's brother. Wyatt Earp, who is a lynchpin of the story, turns out to be a black sorcerer, who is using...more
4.0 stars. An excellent, beautifully written story. Great characters and a flawless weaving of magical elements into a classic American tale. Highly recommended!!

Nominee: World Fantasy Award for Best Novel (2008)
Nominee: Locus Award for Best Fantasy Novel (2008)
The Sheila
Nov 02, 2007 The Sheila rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Fourteen-year-old girls who like Westerns
The Mysterious Stranger and the Independent Widow will always almost hook up--but only almost! Chinese men are wise and gnomic! Women can write good too! Wyatt Earp was a dick! Oh, Emma Bull, your time has passed.
One of those novels that lays a fantasy gloss over documented historical events, in this case the machinations of Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday in Tombstone, 1881.

Really enjoyable but not, I think, very successful. It would make a pretty good footnote in an essay about how writing fanfiction permits creativity and depth of reimagination that writing for traditional publication doesn’t. I loved the parts of this book that were about the twisted-up, co-dependent thing between Earp and Holliday, and...more
colleen the contrarian  ± (... never stop fighting) ±
2 1/2

Awhile back I had mentioned in a group that I liked things like alt-history with magic - and this book offers a nice combination of secret history with weird west. I've always quite liked the idea of the wild west, though I haven't read much about it, and this book was recommended to me.

What I'll say is that while it was ok, I could've lived without having read it and still been happy.

Let's see - so, it's about Tombstone in 1881, and everyone knows some variation of the story. Admittedly, m...more
Fantasy set in Tombstone, AZ featuring a number of historical figures including Doc Holliday and the Earp brothers. While I liked things about the main characters and found the book quite atmospheric, I just couldn't like it as much as I wanted to. The plot is pretty sketchy, mostly suggesting a 2 book deal rather than a completed story arc. I also could've done without the author's portrayal of the Chinese American characters. This ranges from having them speak in a version of pigeon English to...more
Apr 13, 2008 Stephanie rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: historical fiction fans, western fans, people who like to smile while reading
Recommended to Stephanie by: Nancy Pearl's Podcast
Territory by Emma Bull falls into the category of a fiction story portraying a real historical event with a twist. In this case the event is the gunfight at the O.K. Corral and all the happenings that lead up to it and the twist is a couple of fictional characters and the fact that Wyatt Earp was a sorcerer. This makes it sounds kind of silly but it isn’t –the fantastical elements of the story are subtly dealt with and I would even wager that folks not normally inclined to fantasy literature wou...more
Imperfectlyrua Castle-Hackett
I keep trying to quantify what I liked about this book and failing. The re-characterization of the familiar names were believable and interesting in the main. The original characters weren't terribly original but they were enjoyable. The dialogue may have been the selling point; I thought it seemed wonderfully authentic (I have no particular knowledge in this area.) The depiction of the setting was appropriately sparse. The structure of the magic was explained just enough to give it structure bu...more
A solidly good read.

I mostly read contemporary- or future-based fiction, so this fantasy novel of the Wild West was unusual for me. But I met and heard Emma Bull at a science fiction convention a few years ago and have wanted to read her work ever since. She's an excellent writer.

The timing in the book felt a little odd. A quarter of the way into the book I still felt like the main conflict driving the story hadn't been introduced. (As a matter of fact I re-read the back cover about then and it...more
Laura Cowan
I'm not quite sure why so many people recommended this book to me. Maybe because I'm writing a book about seeing the spiritual/metaphysical nature of things behind appearances? I'm a fan of contemporary fantasy, of course, but this is a contemporary fantasy western with a heavy genre feel. I don't like straight genre fiction, generally, and I don't like westerns at all. There's nothing wrong with the plot, the writing, but it all seems a bit over-hyped to me. Neil Gaiman, one of my favorite writ...more
J. Michael
This is a very good book, almost rating five stars from me. Bull not only provides a good grounding in the events that led up to the Gunfight at the OK Corral (though the novel ends prior to that) but does interesting things with magic. It has enough grounding to feel organic and she does interesting things with it, particularly with regards to earth magic.

It uses three primary POV characters and does so to good effect. Two of them are fictional and the main protagonists. Jesse Fox is a mysterio...more
This sounded like it would be a kind of "Harry Potter meets the wild west" and I thought that would be an interesting approach to magic. It turned out to be both more and less than I expected.

There was magic, but it was very understated as a part of the story. In fact, you aren't quite sure if magic is happening or not for a good part of the book. The way the author, Emma Bull works the magic in is very, VERY subtle and she almost seems to want the reader to guess what the heck is going on in To...more
Sherwood Smith
Bull has a gift for being at the right place at the right time: her War for the Oaks not only was deservedly popular, but hit the zeitgeist so centrally that the subsequent decade or so was filled with spinoffs in which rock bands use their music magic to fight off the bad Sidhe, or Winter Court of Faerie. At that time (gross generalization here) readers were looking for something besides yet another quest for a magical object through a fantasy landscape, so here was magic and pretty elves broug...more
Okay, first of all, it's obvious I've seen the movie Tombstone too damn many times -- or that the actors who portrayed Doc Holliday and the Earps did too memorable a job -- or some combination of both, since I COULD NOT read the dialogue in this novel without hearing their voices and inflections, especially Val Kilmer as Doc H.

Overall, good novel. Never really built to the type of climax I was expecting -- things ended up being much more low-key than I thought (and than I wanted, to be honest)....more
Julie Davis
If I hadn't read this recommendation from a blogger I trust, I'd surely have scoffed at the premise.

Set in Tombstone, Arizona, when the Earps and Clantons are inexorably heading toward that famous showdown at the OK Corral, Emma Bull tosses in some sorcery into the mix as an underlying source of tension. Told from the point of view of typesetter Mildred Benjamin and drifter Jesse Fox, this story puts a new twist on the Western genre.

As odd as the combination of Western and magic sounds, Bull h...more
Jocelyn Zombie
Emma Bull is one of my favorite authors, a pioneer in Urban Fantasy. I loved this book, as I expected to, despite the fact that it's a western, which I'm not really into.

This one is based on the events in Tombstone, AZ when Wyatt Earp was there. It deals with everything leading up to the shoot-out at the OK Corral. Which, honestly, is the only thing that bothers me about it - the book feels like it ends 50 pages too early. The plot resolution is assumed to be common knowledge because everyone kn...more
Rajan Khanna
I knew I was going to be sold on this when I discovered that it took place in Tombstone and featured Doc Holliday and Wyatt Earp. And magic.

But while it is immersed in the people and politics of Tombstone, the novel focuses more deeply on the mysterious Jesse Fox and the writer/reporter Mrs. Benjamin.

The book is utterly charming, and I read through it quickly, though it's difficult to find the plot at times. Making things worse, it's apparently the first of at least two books, so some things a...more
I liked this a lot, and I should have logged it right after I read it, because I can't think of anything coherent to say about it. It's a mix of fantasy and Western, sort of a secret history of Tombstone, the Earps, and Doc Holliday; the writing is great, and the magic subtle but powerful. I like how Bull mixes her fictional characters into the historical milieu; though I know very little about the period and the people and so can't vouch for historical accuracy, it worked well for me. Do note t...more
This was the best book I have read in months. Emma Bull has crafted an intriguing world filled with real people. It is so well written, it is almost like watching a play. The author's writing skill has increased with every book and this is by far the best yet.
It is set in the American West on the days of the cowboys and Wyatt Earp, re-telling the Earp legend with a fantasy twist. And it is a surprisingly good combination, much like chocolate and peanut butter. This is a world and a main charact...more

I can't think of a thing wrong with this novel, except slow in a few spots.. but the pacing is almost perfect.

Emma Bull transports the reader to Tombstone. We can feel the dust from the street. We are irritated by the mud caked on our boots. We are really there.

The author clearly knows the history of Tombstone, Arizona during this particular period and succeeds at maintaining the historical timeline while fitting in a crackerjack fantasy. Before long, we are really believing her fiction tha...more
This was an oddly frustrating book, a blend of alternate history and frontier urban fantasy. The main character personalities were a bit too cliched, but they had really great dialogue.
The author has been criticized by some for the use of pidgin English by some of her Chinese characters in the story, but if you read closely, it's a bit of an inside joke, as they mainly use it when conversing with non-Chinese characters they don't like or trust. They speak differently when talking to Jesse, one o...more
Emma Bull doesn't write nearly enough to suit me. but when she does, it's always a pleasure to read and ponder - both Bone Dance and Freedom and Necessity should be on everyone's must-read list. this book, ten years since the last one, brings Tombstone Arizona to life, in a narrative that ends just short of the Gunfight at the OK Corral (and might possibly avert it, in this alternate history). every detail of the history itself, and the town, and the townsfolk, has been carefully researched and...more
Feb 03, 2009 Valerie rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Mom
Recommended to Valerie by: Bookshop SantaCruz
Shelves: fantasy-sf
This book was on the staff picks at my local independent bookstore, so I picked it up. I enjoyed the setting, and the very subtle use of magic. I thought that the characters etc. didn't really warm up for me, until the very end. I was hoping for a stand alone, and it looks like there will be some sort of continuation. However, I will try the second one to see if the characters continue to grow on me.
Beth Branson
Oh, I love the way Emma Bull's mind works! She plies subtle threads of fantasy into the Tombstone saga... even now I can feel the thrumming of silver...
Interesting tale. Ready for the next installment. We've waited a long time for a new novel from Emma.
The acknowledgements in the hardcover edition veer cryptically from second person into first person, and an ill-placed adjective in the publisher's dust jacket summary gives too much of the plot away, but otherwise, Wow! Emma Bull writes with the authenticity of Elmer Kelton, the pacing of Loren Estleman, and the empathy of Jane Austen.

This is not just a "horse opera" with which to pass the time; it's also a character study and a penetrating look at nineteenth-century Tombstone, Arizona, in the...more
This book has Doc Holliday in it. That alone is worth the price of admission!

Territory is an enjoyable novel and delivers on what it is sold as. This is very much a western with fantasy sprinkled in, which is what I expected. It takes place in Tombstone Arizona and involves the historical figures of Wyatt Earp and Doc Holiday. These are facts from the back cover, so nothing is spoiled within the review.

I enjoy the two main characters, and they are believable in their roles within the text. My only true difficulty is reading about characters that have...more
Winslow Schmelling
I just love Emma Bull. I really do. I first read War for the Oaks by her, swallowed it whole in a day and a half and have gone on raiding my library's shelves for any copies of Emma Bull they bring in. She's just wonderful and every time I see that little quotation by Neil Gaiman that says "Emma Bull is really good," I nod to him in agreement.
Now, that said, Bull's books always do this to me: I start out the book thinking "Eh, this is alright, I guess... should I finish it? Am I going to be dis...more
Kylara Jensen
At times I found this book quite engaging. I loved the characterizations. Emma Bull is quite amazing at making us feel for her characters with the tiniest bit of set-up. It's like, every bit of writing was so carefully edited leaving only the best bits. My favorite characters were of course Jesse and Mildred. I loved Mildred.

I felt like this book should have been dry or heavy or boring, but it was so much more engaging than I thought it would be. I never had to slug through the words like I thou...more
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Endicott Mythic F...: Territory - Discussion 15 34 Jul 27, 2011 05:16PM  
  • Freedom and Necessity
  • Hell and Earth (Promethean Age, #4)
  • The House of the Stag
  • Fudoki
  • The Gift
  • Mockingbird
  • Fitcher's Brides
  • Servant of the Underworld (Obsidian and Blood, #1)
  • Tooth and Claw
  • Endless Things (The Aegypt Cycle, #4)
  • The Last Hot Time
  • The Grand Ellipse
  • Portable Childhoods
  • The Bell at Sealey Head
  • The Coyote Road: Trickster Tales
  • Thraxas (Thraxas, #1-2)
  • The Servants
  • A Red Heart of Memories (Red Heart of Memories, #1)
Emma Bull is a science fiction and fantasy author whose best-known novel is War for the Oaks, one of the pioneering works of urban fantasy. She has participated in Terri Windling's Borderland shared universe, which is the setting of her 1994 novel Finder. She sang in the rock-funk band Cats Laughing, and both sang and played guitar in the folk duo The Flash Girls while living in Minneapolis, Minne...more
More about Emma Bull...
War for the Oaks Finder (Borderlands) Bone Dance Shadow Unit 1 Falcon

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