The rainy season is beginning, and the omens the rajnis of Sarathai-tia and Ansh-Sahal have received are ominous. Mrithuri’s Wizard has suggested that a marriage could solve her problems. It is a suggestion quickly dismissed. Sayeh is told she should evacuate her kingdom, move her people west. She, too, dismisses the suggestion. Far away in the mountains called the Steles of the Sky, a caravan inches its way along. It is guarded by Gage and the Dead Man who carry an urgent message for Mrithuri from the world’s most powerful Wizard.
Elizabeth Bear is one of my favorite fantasy authors. The characters in this book are wonderful: The Gage, a bronze man, huge, heavy and gentle; The Dead Man with a mysterious past; Nizhuashti, a Godmade priest and Mrithuti and Sayeh, female cousins who are trying to maintain their shaky holds on thrones usually occupied by men. The descriptions of cities, countryside, the feel of the air, the heat and cold, are enveloping. It is easy to be drawn into this world. That said, this disappointed me. I know that this is the first book in a trilogy, but it just came to an abrupt end. Everything left up in the air, nothing resolved. The whole book seemed to be just an introduction of the characters and the establishing of several plot lines, much like the first act of a play. I feel that even in a series of books, each should be able to stand alone as a novel. So be aware that it might be advisable to wait and acquire all three books before reading.
eGalley review Publication date 10.10.17