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The Red-Stained Wings

(Lotus Kingdoms #2)

4.07  ·  Rating details ·  265 ratings  ·  45 reviews
Hugo Award-winning author Elizabeth Bear returns the epic fantasy world of the Lotus Kingdoms with The Red-Stained Wings, the sequel to The Stone in the Skull, taking the Gage into desertlands under a deadly sky to answer the riddle of the Stone in the Skull.

The Gage and the Dead Man brought a message from the greatest wizard of Messaline to the ruling queen of Sarathai, o
Hardcover, 384 pages
Published May 28th 2019 by Tor Books
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May 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing
The slow burn from the previous novel flared up into a raging fire in this one, proving, at least to me, that these books probably shouldn't have been split up in the first place. And now that I've read this middle book, I'm certain I'll want to read all three in a row.

Good news, everyone! It's all worth re-reading! :) And for all you action freaks wanting to see what is below that precipice you were standing on with the first book? This one is as bloody and chaotic and heartbreaking as the firs
Elizabeth Bear
Sep 03, 2018 added it  ·  (Review from the author)  ·  review of another edition
Finished writing this yesterday. :D I count that as my first time reading it, too!
The Captain
Sep 09, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy
Ahoy there me mateys! Aye, this is a review of a book two where I will try to post no spoilers but read at yer own peril. But this is also a reflection of what me foray into the works of Elizabeth Bear has been like since reading the first book of the Lotus Kingdom series.

The first book I read by the author was karen memory way back in the days before I had a blog. I loved that and so requested the stone in the skull from Macmillian-Tor/Forge and luckily got an eArc from the publisher. As I said
Judy Lesley
May 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Oh My Goodness, this book was amazing. The imagination shown by Elizabeth Bear in filling out this world kept me tied to the story even when I wasn't reading. The four principal characters are separated into different aspects of what is happening throughout the Lotus Kingdoms and all four of those circumstances are vital to the whole so I didn't begrudge any time spent away from my favorite character (the Gage), but when the story was concentrated there I felt as if my mouth was hanging open all ...more
Aug 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is very much the middle book of a trilogy, so I don't have much to say about it except that I loved revisiting this world and spending more time with these characters, and I can't wait for volume 3. ...more
Apr 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This review and others can be read on my blog, Black Forest Basilisks.


The Red-Stained Wings is the second book in Elizabeth Bear’s The Lotus Kingdoms Trilogy. A review of the first book, The Stone in the Skull, is available here.

“It seems to me that the difference between a good ruler and a bad ruler is not always what they choose to do. Sometimes it is how – and why – they choose to do it, and whether they justify
Jul 27, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2019
I really wanted to like this but I just couldn’t get into it. The Dead Man and the Dragon at the end were the only characters that I felt were interesting enough to wonder what they would do next. The plot seemed to lack forward motion and when the Dead Man repeatedly said that the siege was boring I thought: Yes! For me too!
Jun 05, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy
I read this, and two other novels, while travelling out of state to set up funeral arrangements for my father in law. I needed a distraction, this did just that. For that I give much thanks to the author, Elizabeth Bear.

This definitely is much faster paced than the first book. My only complaint about the first was that it felt a bit sluggish, but despite that it was also a great read. While this book could be read without reading the first in series, I don't recommend doing so. Certain aspects w
Doctor Science
Aug 21, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: hugo-poss-2020
Given how much the story jumps around, it could really use a Dramatis Personae list--I kept spending too many brain cycles on remembering who people are.

I continue to not believe in the world-building, but I do like the characters and want to know what happens to them next.
C. S.
Apr 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: netgalley, fiction
There are a lot of good things to talk about with this one. Even beyond an absorbing, intricate storyline that evolves naturally and keeps the surprises coming, and great characters, I'm really impressed with the worldbuilding. Not even just the worldbuilding, but also the skillful delivery of information about the worldbuilding. Bear found that really, really fine balance between trusting the reader to understand what's going on and infodumping. I also felt like this was a step up from the firs ...more
Crossroads Library
Sep 07, 2019 rated it really liked it
Book two's are the hardest to get "right" in any series. There's a certain balance of things happening, world building, and character growth that needs to exist for a book two to really feel like it's own "thing". Unfortunately, a lot of times, book twos just exist, furthering the plot a little and not doing a whole lot in terms of the characters. And unfortunately, I think this book falls into that. It isn't bad by any means, what with the Gage's journey and the tactics and relationships of the ...more
Sep 06, 2019 rated it really liked it
What can I say other than it was clearly a book two. It wasn't bad, it just wasn't great. I suppose things happened, but it felt as though more or less, the book could have been half as long if that was all it was. The Gage and the Dead Man and the Rajni's all did stuff, and the story progressed. I don't know what to say other than I definitely want to read more, the next one, but so far this was definitely number two of the two. ...more
Barb in Maryland
Jun 19, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: romance, sf-f-goodies
4.5 stars.

Great fun--rousing adventure, deadly betrayals, wizardly doings for good and evil, and a dragon.
This second book does not disappoint at all.

deeper review to come (I hope).
Oct 25, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: fantasy, fiction
I Just couldn't get into it and dropped it after reading about 1/4 of the book. ...more
Jessie  (Ageless Pages Reviews)
Second book in Lotus Kingdoms series; fittingly stronger than the 1st since that was mostly a long (admittedly interesting) prologue. Still don’t love the characters, nor am I overly invested in any of the building storylines beyond superficially...… but there's interesting dragon mythology and solid worldbuilding to keep my interest for at least one more book. ★★★½ ...more
Jon Karoll
May 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Received an eARC via NetGalley and TordotCom.

Over other previous reads, where stories were filled with action and adventure, “Red-Stained Wings” featured almost no epic clashes between warring factions. Sure, there’s a few cannon balls here and there, and a few sorceries pulled up from Wizards’ sleeves every now and then. But it’s a definitely a big change of pace and I’m not complaining about it.

It’s the most character-driven book I’ve read in a while, where we explore each of the main cast a
Sep 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
"...she was seeing past a boundary, into a land under a sky ruled by different gods. She knew other gods made other suns: she had heard of the twin suns of Song, the Lion Sun of Messaline. She had never imagined what it would be like to see past the veil from one land into another."

There a lovely surreal quality to Bear's imagination. A world in which there are multiple skies, environments and magics. She also paints vivid pictures with a language use that is both evocative of other cultures and
Joe Crow
May 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Ok, I’m not exactly an impartial reviewer, what with being a decades long enthusiast of Comrade Bear’s work, but that was some kinda awesome. Of course, it’s got the “middle book” curse of setting stuff up for the finale, but I hafta say the more and more I read of stuff set in this world, the more I love it. Wicked tiger-sorcerers who feed on war, ancient blind dragons drowsing in poison cities under killing stars, gargantuan Straandbeest cities mining radioactive deserts for dragon bones, ciga ...more
Jun 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
'The Red-Stained Wings' is an excellent continuation of this fantasy epic, full of war and magic, and monsters and miracles, forces far vaster than any human, without ever losing its focus on the relationships between people. The book is full of small heart-to-heart moments that seem like such tiny things, while also being the only things that see people through such horrors. The contrast between this and the wildly vast fantastical images -- chain-smoking volcanic goddesses, radioactively poiso ...more
Jul 01, 2019 rated it really liked it
What a delicious story! I enjoyed seeing the main characters react in different situations and environments. I loved the sense that there is so much going on behind the scenes (literally), in the water and under ground. As always, Bear fearlessly goes for the gusto, letting her imagination soar. The writing is finely crafted, with subtle humor and moments of simple humanity grounding the epic tale. Very satisfying to read but I'm also looking forward to the next book. And I plan to re-read the w ...more
Jul 28, 2019 rated it really liked it
The second book in Bear's Lotus Kingdom series, set some few years after and to the south of the events in Range of Ghosts. Reading that isn't important but reading the first book in this series is, as it makes no pretense to being any more than a third (?) of a story. It does an excellent job of keeping the various threads in the first book moving though and makes me eager to see the conclusion published. ...more
Jun 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Once again, Elizabeth Bear knocks it out of the park. This novel is a complex, multi-threaded narrative that follows the principal characters from The Stone in the Skull, and provides some tantalizing glimpses at the underpinnings of this rich world. This is a sweeping epic in the true sense of the word, and the characters are fully realized, flaws and all. I am already hungry for the last volume.
Dec 20, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy
This took a rather long time to read for reasons entirely unrelated to the quality of the book. I enjoyed the book greatly, particularly the way that Bear continues to surprise me with subtle inversions in fantasy tropes. That alone was worth the office of admission, at they say. I also felt invested in the plight of the characters. I look forward to reading the next book in the series when it arrives.
Mar 29, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: 21st-century, fantasy
It's not that I didn't like this book (I did!) or that I don't remain blown away by the world that Bear created in this universe (I do!) but it was like...2/3s of the way through the book before I dredged up enough of the previous book to remember who the characters were and who I'm supposed to feel what about (absent the obvious jerk faces, of course).
Is there "books that are better for people who can remember for beans" recommendation?
Sep 06, 2020 rated it really liked it
It's not my usual fare, but this author was recommended to me by different people. It's the second book of a trilogy, and I didn't read the first, so I had that feeling of coming back to school after a long absence, and everyone else knows what's going on, but I don't.
I think Bear's strongest point are her characters. They are memorable, and many of them are lovable. Three of the best characters in this book are not even human. One word - dragon. The dragon is fantastic.
Jul 16, 2019 rated it did not like it
3/4's thru the audiobook and can honestly say I really have no clue what is going on in the book. Its that forgettable. I "read" audiobooks while doing chores or driving. Seems my chores or driving has been extra intense so the book was just noise.
With this insight I will turn it off ... 4hrs to go and I don't care what happens or care what has happened.
Matt Fimbulwinter
Mar 21, 2021 rated it really liked it
Book 2! I think Bear writes some of the best dragons this side of Barbara Hambly or Ursula LeGuin, and I love the radioactive dragons of this setting.

Bear also really digs villains who don't believe themselves to be bad guys, really, and who have clear, understandable motivations, even when they're behaving like monsters.

I also very much want to know what happens next.
Jul 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Just when you've decided who the hero and villains are! Surprising characters become sympathetic in this, hopefully middle, volume. Lots of action in this beautifully intricate Indian/Thai inspired return to the world of the Steles of the Sky. I devoured it. ...more
Joe Slavinsky
Jul 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is an amazing new series. There's lots of action, and intrigue, in a well-imagined world. The characters are well-written, and fully fleshed out(with an exception). Bear has definitely vaulted near the top of my favorite author list. ...more
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Other books in the series

Lotus Kingdoms (3 books)
  • The Stone in the Skull (Lotus Kingdoms, #1)
  • The Origin of Storms (Lotus Kingdoms, #3)

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