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Bone and Jewel Creatures (Bone and Jewel Creatures)

3.96  ·  Rating Details  ·  307 Ratings  ·  45 Reviews
Dark magic is afoot in the City of Jackals...

Eighty years Bijou the Artificer has been a Wizard of Messaline, building her servants from precious scraps, living with the memory of a great love that betrayed her. She is ready to rest.

But now her former apprentice, Brazen the Enchanter, has brought her a speechless feral child poisoned by a sorcerous infection. Now, Messalin
Hardcover, 133 pages
Published March 1st 2010 by Subterranean Press
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A jewel of a novella.

“Bijou’s fingers angled from her palms as if someone had bent them aside under great heat and pressure. She shuffled about her cavernous, shadowed workshop in parody of a bride’s hesitation step. Eighty years a Wizard of Messaline–the city of jackals, the empire of markets–had left their wear.“

How often do you find an elderly, arthritic heroine in fantasy? From the first sentence, Bear had my attention. H
Aug 14, 2012 Laurel rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2010
One of the reasons I love novellas, is that authors will often be a little experimental, more daring. In one sitting, you can be drawn into a well crafted and imaginative piece, that offers something a novel cannot. It's almost as if novellas are our adult fairy tales - they use a strange and simple story to give a moral lesson, like an old fable.

I realize that my description is vague. I do not wish to spoil the story. Rather, to express my appreciation of a good old adventure tale, with genuin
Apr 30, 2016 Kristen rated it really liked it
Bone and Jewel Creatures is set in the same world as the Eternal Sky trilogy, but other than the shared setting they are unrelated. This novella focuses on the 96-year-old wizard Bijou, who also appeared in the prequel novella Book of Iron. Although it's not absolutely necessary to do so, I am glad I read the prequel first since it provided more background on the conflict in this story.

This isn't a book to read for the plot, which is slow moving, but one to read for the lovely writing, the imagi
Sep 17, 2014 Joseph rated it it was amazing
A short novel set in the world of Bear's Eternal Sky trilogy, although essentially unrelated. In the city of Messaline, the sorcerer Bijou, whose specialty is creating intricate animated constructs of bone & jewel, takes in a street orphan, a feral girl sent to her as the opening gambit in a war between wizards. Intricate and delicate and beautifully written.
Oct 12, 2012 heidi rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ebook, fantasy, reviewed
The problem with Elizabeth Bear's writing is that she sets herself a really high bar. I have nothing to fault in the execution or construction of this story, just that it didn't tug at my heartstrings or explode my mind.

The best part of the book was the world, and the magical creations that exist in it, the bone and jewel creatures of the title. Those shimmer against the dusty city. The least compelling part is probably the plot, which hits predictable emotional notes. It's possible I actually y
Kae Cheatham
Feb 20, 2011 Kae Cheatham rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy
Stories about wizards and sorcery aren't usually my preference; the interesting title and cover compelled me to take this from my public library shelf.
I was not sorry. Elizabeth Bear's story about a wizardry power struggle was--enchanting :-)

Protagonist Bijou, is an artificer who creates and animates creatures from bone, gem and other inanimate objects. She is old, and her thoughts and struggles with her infirmities are well told. The reader will also sense she has a "past." This aspect of myste
Mar 24, 2010 Stefan rated it really liked it
In Bone and Jewel Creatures, a beautiful new novella by Elizabeth Bear, Bijou the Artificer creates her own servants and companions by animating bones. When her former apprentice, Brazen the Enchanter, brings her a feral, mute child, she is presented with the challenge of fixing its misshapen arm... which is also infected by a mysterious disease that soon turns out be the first sign of a sorcerous plague.

At just under 140 pages, Bone and Jewel Creatures packs a strong punch. Bijou is a fascinati
Feb 29, 2016 Beth rated it liked it
Shelves: novella
Aged wizard Bijou is living a fairly quiet life creating golems for the locals and herself (the bone and jewel creatures of the title), until her once-apprentice Brazen brings an injured feral child to her doorstep. A growing number of necrosis-plagued creatures begin arriving at her workshop after that, bringing Bijou closer to her past, and Messaline, city of jackals, closer to an uncertain future.

This writing in this novella is very pretty, polished to a shine. The golems are fascinating, won
Jun 23, 2015 Colleen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was my first work by Elizabeth Bear, but it absolutely will not be the last.

Being a fantasy reader, I had made the unthinking assumption that "bone and jewel creatures" was a metaphor for ... something. No. The book opens with literal creatures made of bone and jewels, and I was immediately drawn in.

The characters and world are sketched incredibly vividly. It may take awhile to fully grasp the reality of the world , but once it settles in, it's a remarkable place. The backstory between the
Tristan A.

A fun experiment, fascinating characters. I wish the story could have been longer, I enjoyed it so much. Especially good was the inclusion of two unusual character types: an old woman protagonist (a black woman, no less!), and a feral child. In fact, several scenes were from the point of view of the feral child, which I don't think I've ever seen before anywhere else.

The story is paced to match the old creakiness of the protagonist and antagonist, while still engaging the reader's attentio
What a lovely discovery! I'd heard so many good things about Bear's Eternal Sky trilogy that I finally took a look at her author page on Amazon - and spotting this novella at a bargain-bin price, decided to see if I enjoyed her writing style in a shoter-form piece first.

I'm very glad I did! "Bone and Jewel Creatures" is everything a good novella should be: roomy enough to give you a feel for the universe, but self-contained enough to cover exactly as much story as it needs. Bijou alone is a fabu
Dec 13, 2013 Stef rated it really liked it
This is another novella, but it really draws you in to the center of the story very quickly. While it can be read as a stand alone novella, I feel like that reading The Book of Iron first made a more cohesive story. Elizabeth Bear has a masterful grasp of language and knows exactly how to design a simple phrase to have the most emotional impact.

In this story a 90+ Bijou the Artificer is pitted in a last battle against her former lover Kaulas the Necromancer. With the help of Kaulas' own son and
Jun 22, 2013 Glennis rated it liked it
I've sat on this novella for a while. I tend to do that with novellas and I just wait until I want to read an entire story in one sitting but don't want to commit a lot of time to it. I'm happy to say that I can read more about this universe since it is set in the same world as the Eternal Sky series. Now this means I will have to start reading it in my spare time.

The story is set in a world of magic and the beginning of a wizard war in the city. The necromancer is making a bid for power over t
Jun 24, 2014 Julie rated it it was ok
Great concept, poor execution. The characters weren't well done, in my opinion. I felt like I had to keep trying to grasp a slippery vision of who/what/how they were. The last few pages were the best part because the writing and story were laid out more clearly. The whole thing read like a concept piece for a whole book, instead of a novella. I am hoping her writing style is different in the next book I try.
Dec 29, 2012 Erin rated it really liked it
This novella was terrific. The story and characters all intrigued me -- even while part of my brain stood back in admiration for how Elizabeth Bear drew me so quickly into her story. She managed to plug my emotions into the fate of her characters -- including those created from bones, jewels and the skill of her wizard Bijou.

As soon as I finished the book, I wanted to re-read it and figure out how she did it.

Elizabeth Bear is shaping up to be one of my favorite authors. Earlier this year I read
Oct 02, 2013 Jacqie rated it really liked it
Another Bear novella. Another world that I'd love to spend more time in.
The plot was predictable, but the setting and main character were amazing. The bone and jewel creatures of the title are the creations of a wizard named Bijou, now at the end of her life. Her talent is to animate skeletons with the addition of metal and precious stones. Her animations include Ambrosius, with the head of a ferret and a centipede-like body made from a long spine with the ribs of cats for legs, a mirrored sloth
Aug 03, 2015 Evreading rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favourites
An elderly and reclusive sorceress in fantasy North Africa(?) whose thing is reanimating animal skeletons with precious stones and metal takes in a feral child with a terribly wounded arm. Short, rich, satisfying. Very fond of all the characters.
Abby Miller
Jun 11, 2010 Abby Miller rated it really liked it
Another winner from Subterranean Press

Wonderful descriptions, and I was totally enchanted by the setting and the mechanical creatures Bijou created from bits of bone, jewels, metal, and fabric.

What I also found enjoyable was the head-hopping that took place between Bijour, Emeraude, and even Brazen. Through the three points of view the story unfolds of this beautiful, although brutal desert city.

I only gave it four stars due to the fact that I had trouble with the plot and charactes. I was unsu
Jun 18, 2014 Roberta rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fantasy
Haunting! Elizabeth Bear's tale of an aging sorceress, her family of creations made of bones and jewels and magic, and the humans she loves is amazing. I fell in love with her creatures!!
Jeremy Preacher
May 08, 2015 Jeremy Preacher rated it liked it
Shelves: fantasy
Bone and Jewel Creatures is a lovely little novella, but long on inventiveness and full of delightful, mostly non-human characters. (The feral child who thinks she's a jackal is excellent.) The plot is a little oblique, as what's primarily of interest to the characters is Bijou's advancing age and Emeraude's immediate jackal-ish concerns. The machinations of the Necromancer, while creepy, seem almost like background. It's not really clear what his motivations are up until the end, and he's not p ...more
Feb 14, 2014 Jenine rated it really liked it
Memorable image of the magician's compound/workshop. An affecting ending. I will have to read this series.
Apr 17, 2012 Barbara rated it really liked it
Shelves: sf-f-goodies
Absolute gem of a story. An enchanting bit of fantasy; it has it all--evil Necromancer--check!, aged lady wizard, locked in duel with necromancer--check!, feral child raised by jackals--check! exotic city/state--check! exquisite language--double check. The blurb gives a bare bones idea of the plot and characters, but naturally cannot begin to delve into the intricacies of the story and the characters. But as all this is packed into a novella, to say any more would result in spoilers.

Though set i
May 20, 2013 Mark rated it liked it
I've never read anything by Elizabeth Bear before; after this I will probably read more.

That being said this didn't have a ton of punch. The main motivation for writing it seemed not to be the plot (which is almost an afterthought), or even the main character (who is quite memorable).

Rather, most of the imagination seems to center around the setting, primarily the wizard's menagerie of the title. They have the sort of presence would probably tempt an ambitious director to use them in a movie, w
Sep 26, 2012 glitrbug rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kindle
This is a jewel of a book. Ms. Bear creates a whole world full of well rounded characters that you learn to love. The whole idea of creating creatures from bones, wire, jewels and a bit of magic is worth the read and then there is a whole rich story about creating a family for yourself and passing down your knowledge. It that was very satisfying to me. Normally I stay away from short stories and novellas because they seem like an idea that needs to be fleshed out. This one is finely crafted and ...more
Aug 12, 2015 Isana rated it really liked it
I love books like this. Books about unusual protagonists: old women who are going to die, a feral child. It's very Patricia A. McKillip, if I am allowed to say so. A short story that feels as though someone is there telling you a story rather than calling you into an epic journey. I love this kind of story.
Sep 08, 2011 Kimi rated it liked it
I've decided that I'm not a big fan of Elizabeth Bear. I thought the premise of this story was excellent, but I would have liked to see it developed differently. A lot of times I wasn't quite sure why certain things were happening (which I'm finding to be a very familiar feeling in my experiences with this author) or the motivation behind some characters.

It was pleasant and short to read, but I would have preferred more detailed explanations to get a better understanding of the events.
Jul 01, 2013 Joy rated it it was amazing
An absolutely lovely, imaginative short book, in a city that could be old Istanbul with a touch of steampunk and magic. The plot however revolves around a wizard war between three old rivals, the evil one being a necromancer against the artificer, her marvelous intelligent, bone and jewel, animated skeleton creations and her former apprentice. The feral, jackal child is the element that pulls all three together towards the grizzly end game.
Oct 30, 2015 Lisa rated it really liked it
I really liked this odd and sort of creepy little fantasy novella. It's creative and engrossing and rewarding and interesting. Need to read more Elizabeth Bear . . .
Aug 06, 2010 MJ rated it really liked it
Shelves: sci-fan
Bear usually writes thick books, this is a thin little one and unusual. An elderly artificer is given a possible trainee by a former student. The girl has been abused and has a disabled arm. The artificer’s workroom is filled with amazing combo mechanical/flesh creatures and suddenly hundreds of dying animals and humans arrive on her doorstep to be helped. What’s going on?
Jan 08, 2014 Ryan rated it liked it
Shelves: ebook-m
This felt like a short exploratory adventure and yes I would like the various back and side stories please. Some of the story is familiar - there are clearly people and animals living in a city, and some of them are magical, some follow different gods. The kind of magical is interesting, different or done in a new way that makes it feel new. Very enjoyable.
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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

Bone and Jewel Creatures (2 books)
  • Book of Iron

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