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Steles of the Sky (Eternal Sky #3)

4.09  ·  Rating Details ·  706 Ratings  ·  103 Reviews
Elizabeth Bear concludes her award-winning epic fantasy trilogy

Re Temur, exiled heir to his grandfather’s Khaganate, has finally raised his banner and declared himself at war with his usurping uncle. With his companions—the Wizard Samarkar, the Cho-tse Hrahima, and the silent monk Brother Hsiung—he must make his way to Dragon Lake to gather his army of followers.

Temur has
Hardcover, 432 pages
Published April 8th 2014 by Tor Books
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The Shayne-Train
Aug 04, 2015 The Shayne-Train rated it it was amazing
What a beautiful and satisfying finish to an amazingly well-written fantasy trilogy.

This series has a brain and a heart behind the guts and swords of regular fantasy fiction. The varied characters are so fleshed-out and developed.

And one of the main ideas of this fantasy world is that of the sky: in any given region, the sky above your head is the sky of the religion of the ruler or occupier of that region. So there may be multiple moons speeding across the sky, or a "hard" sun and a "soft" sun
Solomon Foster
Feb 28, 2014 Solomon Foster rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I wish I had an emergency six-star rating to go to for this book and trilogy. It was easily my favorite epic fantasy in decades, filled with wonders, interesting viewpoints, larger than life characters, and at least a dozen satisfying character arcs. At the same time it has an admirable compactness; a lot of authors would have spent three or four times as many pages telling the same story, and been less effective because of it.

A perfect story that I look forward to rereading again and again.
May 07, 2015 Robyn rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2015
A thrilling and heart-breaking conclusion to the trilogy. One of my favourite things that I've read this year - these books have it all.
Leah Petersen
Apr 21, 2014 Leah Petersen rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy, women-in-sff
What struck me over and over again through this trilogy is what a brilliant and original worldbuilder Bear is. In this world, the sky is different depending on what nation you're in, and it changes if the land is conquered. The whole sky. The sun, the stars, the moons. One sky has a moon for each prince of the ruling line. When one dies, there goes his moon. A new one is born? You have a new moon that night. One nation has no night at all. Just the rise of the big sun (Hard-day) and as it sets, ...more
Aug 01, 2014 Beth rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed
Glacially paced and largely irrelevant for the bulk of the novel. The last ten percent picks up the pace, but it's completely predictable - or would have been, had I cared enough to predict. (view spoiler) ...more
Megan Baxter
Aug 13, 2016 Megan Baxter rated it really liked it
With this, I think I finish the truly astonishing haul of Elizabeth Bear books I picked up at the local library sale last year. (I'm almost done everything I bought, and might actually finish the last couple non-Bear books before this year's sale in October.) That has meant that I've read the three parts of this trilogy closer together than I might otherwise have, and I'm glad, because they're so intricate and densely connected I might have had to struggle to remember what was going on, instead ...more
May 08, 2015 Justine rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015
This was a real powerhouse finish to the trilogy. What I liked most about these books as a whole was how the characters became more and more complex as the story proceeded. They were never simple. Reexamination of loyalties and personal roles, slightly shifting motivations, changes in direction, all of these wove together to make a highly nuanced story that still maintained a fairly quick pace. The ending was emotional and yet also satisfying, and left me feeling that the time I had spent with t ...more
Jan 03, 2016 Ron rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, maps, ebook
Wizards, dragons and poets—not to mention ghuls, demonlings, blood ghosts and horses. What’s not to like in this rousing conclusion to Elizabeth’s Bear’s Eternal Sky trilogy?

“Just keep walking.”

Quite a bit actually. But for her smashing climax, the rest of the book merits three stars … at best. It suffers a terrible case of sideways: lots of talking, lots of maneuvering, but little development of the story. Fans of Bear, and no one should start reading any series with the last book, will enjoy
Jared Millet
Hate to say this, but Bear stumbles a bit in the third volume of her Eternal Sky trilogy. The characters are still compelling and her Asian-inspired cultures are still vividly drawn, but after various fights for survival in the opening 100 pages, the book gets surprisingly dull.

How so? There's a scene in the Dino de Laurentiis Flash Gordon (a weird connection, I know, bear with me) in which Flash declares, "Ming's your real enemy. Let's all team up and fight him!" Imagine how boring the rest of
Jun 09, 2016 Bart rated it really liked it
Shelves: speculative, reviewed
Reviewing the final book of a series is always a strange affair. There’s the need to not repeat too much from the previous reviews, and the need to avoid spoiling anything for those who still haven’t read the earlier books. Plus the review should be interesting for both those who have and those who haven’t read what came before.

I’m taking the easy way out, and opt for a rather short write-up. Should you decide to just skim this review, no problemo, but please, don’t miss the quote near the end.

Apr 27, 2014 Rob rated it it was amazing
...I don't think I can praise Steles of the Sky, or the rest of the trilogy for that matter, highly enough. Bear set out to create a work of epic fantasy that would challenge the genre's clichés and treatment of gender related issues and ended up setting a new standard. Bear retains a lot of elements that make the genre attractive to readers while showing us a whole new way of dealing with them. It's one of the most successful attempts to break with the restrictions Tolkien's success imposed on ...more
Apr 23, 2014 Joseph rated it it was amazing
I just ... That is ... I'm dumbstruck at how good this book is (and its predecessors were); the story, the worldbuilding, the prose, most of all the characters. So, stunned into inarticulateness, I'm going to steal directly from the book itself to sum up my feelings:

"There is history here to be written," she said. "There are poems such as have never been heard -- in dragon-scale, in stallion's mane, in the actions of God through the hands of men."
Tudor Ciocarlie
Oct 18, 2014 Tudor Ciocarlie rated it it was amazing
Glorious ending of the Eternal Sky trilogy. This series is without a doubt the best written epic-fantasy series of all time.
Ian Mond
Sep 06, 2015 Ian Mond rated it it was ok
If you’re like me and you believe that award shortlists are meant to be read and not admired then the nomination of a multi-series novel, that you haven’t been keeping up with, creates a quandary. Do you ignore the book’s existence on the ballot? Do you try to find time to read the other novels in the series? Or do you simply take the view that nominated works must stand alone, that in terms of character and plot and theme it must engage the newbie reader as much as it does the person who’s alre ...more
Steles of the Sky is the final book in the epic fantasy series the Eternal Sky, which starts with Range of Ghosts. Temur is raising his banner as Great Khan and gathering allies against the plot to raise an ancient evil.

Thankfully, the synopsis for Steles of the Sky differed from the formula set out by the last two books. On the other hand, I don’t think my problems with the last book were just mid series slump. I think this entire trilogy suffers from poor plotting and pacing.

While the end of t
Jun 27, 2014 Melliane rated it really liked it
Mon avis en Français

My English review

This is another series that I have not read, and I begin once again with the third book in the trilogy that closes the series. It is always a difficult to do that, I know, especially in fantasy, but I am done for now with novels out of order.

Unlike the last novel I read where I was really lost, I found that the author made us understand more easily the context of the story. The world is also very rich and we find a lot of characters at once. It is true that i
Tim Martin
I enjoyed this ending to one of the best fantasy trilogies in recent memory. I thought some of the pacing in the first two thirds of this book at times could have been a little more brisk but the end more than made up for that. I continued to appreciate the excellent world building on the part of author Elizabeth Bear and really grew to love the main characters.

The ending, perhaps because of the somewhat slower pace of the rest of the book, felt maybe a little rushed but A LOT happened, with al
Oct 26, 2014 Liz rated it it was amazing

No, seriously, all of them! Sometimes I forget what it's like to get so caught up in a novel that I can't stop reading or go to sleep. It happens far more rarely than it used to. But when it does...
This was one of those series that just stays with you. It's everything that little epic fantasy ideas dream of growing up to be.

Sometimes I think that epic fantasy could survive entirely on Elizabeth Bear and N. K. Jemisin and, while there might not be as much literature, what is
Brian Palmer
Nov 09, 2014 Brian Palmer rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy, epic-fantasy
The first book of the series took a while to get into, but it did a nice job of weaving together a history of peoples, united by the beautiful visions of the skies (an image that has stuck with me separated from the story for years). This book took ... significantly longer to get into, because it had a lot of characters to pick up their stories and try to bring them together. It was only really the end that it all started cohering; it did involve a Big Battle but nothing like the traditional epi ...more
Fantasy Literature
May 06, 2014 Fantasy Literature rated it really liked it
First, a confession: I’ve mostly given up on epic fantasy as a genre. I keep circling back to it because I remember the sense of soaring escape it gave me in eighth grade, but the story about intrepid heroes banding together to save the world from evil has long since lost its shine for me. The series I’ve slogged through recently — including the Hugo-nominated one, which rhymes with Peel of Lime — would only be useful to me if I needed to prop open a door on a breezy day, or start a fire in some ...more
Jun 09, 2014 Lynnet rated it liked it
I felt like I could see the author's fingerprints far too frequently throughout this book. Each character's backstory was neatly explained and wrapped up. The lack of loose ends felt especially strange because this book really only concluded Temur's story, there were many other characters who seemed to be halfway through their own stories, but those stories were abandoned.

Basically, if you read this series with the assumption that Temur was the main character, I can see why this would be a very
Jun 06, 2015 Kara rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fantasy

The whole book - the whole trilogy - builds up to the battle in the last chapter and just about every character takes a side and battles it out (except the Empress, who is busy rebuilding her palace after it got a bit blown up by revolutionaries).

Its an awesome battle sequence as everyone just let loose everything they've had to bottle up throughout.

Bear is somewhere halfway between Tolkien and Martin - a lot of high fantasy and optimism balanced by the grittiness and grimness of reality.

Matt Fimbulwinter
May 22, 2014 Matt Fimbulwinter rated it really liked it
Yes, one can still write cool, compelling epic fantasy. Book three of the Eternal Sky trilogy, Bear wraps things up nicely. Because it's Bear, the dialogue is sharp and warm, and the characters are deep and compelling. Bear uses a somewhat softer touch in this series than in some of her other works; while there's pain and loss, it doesn't hit as brutally as in, say, her Promethean Age books.

Also, I really want a Lord Shuffle stuffie.
Jul 19, 2016 Brittany rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy
A satisfying finale to the trilogy. Such a refreshing trio of books. Quick! Name the last book you remember where several of the woman in it were raising young children (nursing) and it was treated as No Big Deal. It's OK; I'll wait.

If you could think of something, let me know, because I certainly couldn't. Very engaging, and I can't wait to read them again.
May 09, 2014 Wm rated it it was amazing
Does everything we needed it to do. And then some.
Oct 23, 2014 Kam rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fantasy
Most readers, I think, like to guess at the ending of a novel. I personally think it’s part of the fun of reading, actually: you know the author is going to take one someplace interesting - or at least, one hopes that’s what the author is going to do - but whether it’s the sort of interesting one expects, or the sort of interesting one does not expect, is the question. Some readers like having a story end precisely the way they want it to, but there are others who don’t mind getting an ending th ...more
Aug 27, 2016 Cindy rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-in-2014
Good conclusion to this trilogy (and it was a trilogy that stayed with only 3 books - hooray!)

Nov 28, 2016 Sarah rated it really liked it
This final book in the Eternal Sky trilogy continued the excellent character development and world-building, and ended with a satisfying, emotional conclusion. The entire trilogy was multi-layered, beautiful to read, and full of characters that I felt invested in and that I cared about.
Oct 12, 2016 Cat rated it really liked it
Loved the trilogy.
Kelley Ceccato
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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More about Elizabeth Bear...

Other Books in the Series

Eternal Sky (3 books)
  • Range of Ghosts (Eternal Sky, #1)
  • Shattered Pillars (Eternal Sky, #2)

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“The more swiftly we proceed, the less time the enemy has to plan.” “Do glass demons think?” “Under the circumstances, it’s safest to assume they’re up there drawing tactical maps in full relief.” “Your argument has merit,” 0 likes
“Samarkar wondered at what point in a relationship it was appropriate to threaten to break a suitor’s kneecaps if he should prove insufficiently respectful of one’s friend. The” 0 likes
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