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Steles of the Sky (Eternal Sky #3)

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4.25 of 5 stars 4.25  ·  rating details  ·  263 ratings  ·  48 reviews
Elizabeth Bear concludes her award-winning epic fantasy trilogy, The Eternal Sky, with Steles of the Sky.

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...more
ebook, 432 pages
Published April 8th 2014 by Tor Books
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,228)
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Solomon Foster
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.
Leah Petersen
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
Beth
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
Joseph
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."
Fantasy Literature
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
Melliane
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...more
Rob
...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
Lynnet
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...more
Cindy
Good conclusion to this trilogy (and it was a trilogy that stayed with only 3 books - hooray!)

Liz
Oh man. ALL THE FEELS!

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...more
Linda
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...more
Joseph
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
April
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
Doug
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...more
Brittany
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.
ms.pointy
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
Andrew
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...more
victoria.p
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Tudor Ciocarlie
Glorious ending of the Eternal Sky trilogy. This series is without a doubt the best written epic-fantasy series of all time.
Wm
Does everything we needed it to do. And then some.
KarenF
I'm not sure how I feel about this one. I loved the first books in the trilogy but I didn't really feel that way about this one. I still love the characters and it was great to see a lot of them come into their own here. But the beginning meandered a lot. There were a lot of side adventures that really had no bearing on the end so they felt like they were there for padding. That's an issue I have with a lot of epic fantasy, too damn long for no good reason. They all need a Hemingway method edito...more
Aaron
This series was amazing, and the conclusion put it over the top. People say we need diversity in genre and it's rarely delivered. It's delivered here and it's the best "epic fantasy" I've read in decades. I took some time over this book because I was afraid I would be sad to see it go, and I am. I fear that I will never read something so poignant and original again. Well played Elizabeth, well played.

Buy and read this book, it's the strongest recommendation I can make. You will thank me for it.
Jenine
I had to slog through this installment. It felt like all our characters were on the road most of the time. And the showdown with the big baddie loomed for a long time.
Extra points awarded however, for Yanchen's royal yak, Lord Shuffle.
I anticipated that Ms. Bear would clever her way out of a long battle sequence at the end. I had been waiting for the rukh's liberation for 2 1/2 books. A long bloody war was well sidestepped. And yet I was sorry our characters were stuck in this fairly standard...more
Joy
As often happens when I follow a series as it gets published, I find I have to reread the previous books to remember important details. With Bear's writing it's a pleasure. Her world development is clear and and believable, especially the mechanics of magic. As this book reflexes many cultures you will recognize from the real work you might think it would be a dull 'what if' historical fantasy but it's very original with many unusual creatures along with the more traditional. I became very inves...more
Erik
This is the third and final book in the Eternal Sky trilogy, and Bear sticks the landing. She brought it to a good climax and then got off stage before things could get boring. That kept the ending from feeling too pat - she hints at resolutions for lots of minor characters without going into a bunch of exposition about how so and so was a good and wise ruler for many years.

This is not your standard 1990s era epic fantasy, and I'm really happy with that.
Matthew
I'm so very glad that I had the good sense to read this whole series, and I really enjoyed the conclusion, and seeing how it worked out for our heroes. The whole series was well-written, to the point that I found myself sympathizing with characters one might consider villainous. Characters who chose poorly in the name of what they believed was wise. It is so good, and I am thrilled to hear that there will be another series in the same universe.
Matt Fimbulwinter
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.
Elisha
A beautiful conclusion to a gorgeously told and unexpectedly satisfying series. Sadly, the ending seemed rushed... Which wasn't a surprise due to the pacing of the first 3/4 of the book. (I had quite a few "how the hell is Bear going to wrap this up?/ there's still so many loose ends!")
Jason
Without too many spoilers, I can only say that the final book brings this excellent trilogy around like a roundhouse kick to the face. One you can sort of see coming, if you are looking the right way, but you can't avoid and you more than kind of admire even while it is breaking your nose and knocking you on your butt. Also, there are magic horses.
Courtney Schafer
Satisfying conclusion to a thoroughly excellent trilogy. If you like epic fantasy and you haven't read these books, well, get your ass to the bookstore. Richly imaginative worldbuilding, complex and sympathetic characters, interwoven plotlines that come together in a truly grand finish - honestly, I can't recommend the series enough. One of my favorite things is how Bear sets up certain characters so you think you know where their arc is going - and then she skews it in a different direction, in...more
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108173
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
More about Elizabeth Bear...
Range of Ghosts (Eternal Sky, #1) Hammered (Jenny Casey, #1) Dust (Jacob's Ladder, #1) New Amsterdam (New Amsterdam, #1) Blood and Iron (Promethean Age, #1)

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