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Steles of the Sky (Eternal Sky #3)

4.11  ·  Rating Details  ·  554 Ratings  ·  88 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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57th out of 101 books — 208 voters
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,824)
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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
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
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
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
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."
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
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 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
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
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
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
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
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.

Apr 09, 2014 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!)

Apr 17, 2014 Linda rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I read all three of the Eternal Sky books (Range of Ghosts (March 2012, Tor Books) Shattered Pillars (2013, Tor Books) and Steles of the Sky) fairly close together.

I read the first two in March, then I had to wait a month for the third one. It is the first time in years that I was so anxious for a new book to come out. I pre-ordered it, and the day it was supposed to come out, the first thing I did when I got home was to go see if I had a new book on my Kindle...

I really enjoyed this book. My e
Scott Belisle
Mar 05, 2015 Scott Belisle rated it it was amazing
What a fantastic ending to a great trilogy. Elizabeth Bear did an excellent job of bringing back several chekov's guns from the first and second book, and using them to wonderful effect.

Whereas the previous two books took the form of journey or road novels, this book is much more focused on a single location: Dragon Lake, where our hero Re Temur has raised his banner and made his candidacy for the padparascha seat known. All of the heroes and villains (though no one save al-sepehr really comes
Sep 12, 2014 Joseph rated it liked it
This book was okay, not good or bad just some where in the middle. I thought the story moved far to slow for a pay off that, in my option, wasn't very good. I didn't like the ending at all and I don't feel that every story in the book was finished. If you consider Temur to be the main character, which I doubt, then it ends fine. But as I said Temur hardly seems to be in any of the books and Samarkar is more prevalent then he is. It just feels like after all the building that was done in the tril ...more
Jul 14, 2014 April rated it really liked it
I thought this was a fantastic conclusion to the very good Re Temur fantasy series by Elizabeth Bear. In this rousing conclusion, Temur and his allies gather together to prepare for and fight the evil Al-Sepehr and his armies of humans and blood ghosts. Oddly, the focus is less on Temur (though he is clearly there) than on the females in his camp and in the opposing one, which I saw as a kind of nice feminist statement by Bear. I had wondered what would happen if (apparently when) Temur's first ...more
Jan 25, 2015 Catalina rated it liked it
I liked this book less than the first two in the series, which is a sad thing for the final book in a trilogy. The ending felt rushed - I was almost at the end of the book and kept wondering when the big battle might finally come along. I also felt that the author spent hundreds of pages telling the stories of lots of characters who weren't essential to the main plot and in the end, some were left hanging, unresolved.

That being said, I did appreciate the diversity presented in the book. I also v
Apr 27, 2014 Doug rated it really liked it
Really enjoyed this book--as well as the series. Very epic, but with a non-traditional setting. Think central Asia where so many cultures collide: Kazakhstani, Mongolian, Persian, Russian, Chinese, etc... . There's a decent amount of magic, but it's not overly "systemized." Mystical powers are blended nicely myth and legend. Strange beasts, landscapes and interesting artifacts abound.

The pacing is excellent: it's neither break-neck nor plodding, and Bear does a fantastic job with the action/batt
May 30, 2014 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.
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 10, 2014 ms.pointy rated it did not like it
Shelves: sci-fi, new
All wind up, no pitch. We spend several hundred pages wandering fruitlessly in the desert, but she's spun her story too wide, and, by the end, whole characters and plot lines are simply dropped in a frantic attempt to wrap up the main plot, which is....perhaps never clear while somehow also being blindingly obvious. Certainly Bear does nothing with the literal scores of characters she spent hundreds of pages building up; in the end, with few exceptions, nothing of the characters come through, an ...more
Jul 27, 2015 Salamander-sai rated it liked it
Loved loved LOVED reading through this one - the build-up was wonderful, couldn't put it down. My only problem was that the ending, once it started to appear, rushed past in a blur. The final battle felt oddly detached, as though none of the characters were directly involved in it, and I didn't really like the ending at all. I wish I could have given it a higher rating, because I seriously loved the majority of the book, but honestly? The ending spoiled it for me. The only character who got an " ...more
May 13, 2014 Andrew rated it really liked it
Conclusion of boy-and-magic-pony trilogy. And boy is it a conclusion. I don't know how you want your fantasy trilogies concluded, but if you were waiting for a giant battle with dragons and wizards and demons and mammoths and babies and magic ponies and multiple iterations of "The Eagles are coming!" (not necessarily with eagles), then have we got a trilogy for you.

It is interesting that this series follows several viewpoint characters, on both (every) side of a politically multifarious war of c
Nov 22, 2014 The rated it liked it
Full review at

(Spoilers for Range of Ghosts and Shattered Pillars are below).

The Eternal Sky Trilogy is brought to an acceptable conclusion, but that being said it’s definitely the weakest link in this series, and I certainly was hoping for more. There’s plenty of long awaited character confrontations, characters using their wits to pull off some trickery, and a huge epic battle with flying horses and explosive magic to top everything off – most of which
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Elizabeth Bear was born on the same day as Frodo and Bilbo Baggins, but in a different year. This, coupled with a childhood tendency to read the dictionary for fun, led her inevitably to penury, intransigence, the mispronunciation of common English words, and the writing of speculative fiction.

She lives in Massachusetts with a Giant Ridiculous Dog. Her partner, acclaimed fantasy author Scott Lynch
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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