This is an excellent book, albeit the fact that it suffers heavily from the fact that it is the first in a trilogy: it’s not self-contained and it takes a long time to get used to all the names and politics of the world – there’s hardly any infodump in Range of Ghosts, and that’s the way I like it.
Bear creates a fascinating, original fantasy world set in something resembling the steppes, deserts and mountain ranges of Eurasia after the death of Genghis Khan. It’s heavily inspired by this period and setting – names and geography clearly intend to reference the human reality, and there’s a lot of attention to realistic details about horses and the likes – but Bear very much does her own thing with it. It’s not a historical novel at all, a lot is added and at times Range of Ghosts almost has a mythological feel to it.
Although the book is only 330 pages long, it’s not a quick read: there’s the complexity of the world I mentioned, and also the strangely lucid, beautiful prose of Bear, that needs a careful reading to appreciate.
The characters are interesting, but generally rather static, since not that much happens to them in this first volume – that builds up slowly. So, the scene is wonderfully set, and obviously I’m eager to start in the next installment of The Eternal Sky.
originally written on the 12th of June, 2015