Book Review: Elizabeth Bear’s Shattered Pillars

 

Shattered Pillars is the 2nd book of the Eternal Sky trilogy, Elizabeth’s Bear’s fantasy series that draws inspiration from Central Asia, the Middle East and the Far East. I really liked the first book, Range of Ghosts, and at the end of my review, I expressed a hope that the sequels would be as thrilling. I was not disappointed, though in ways I didn’t completely expect. The first book ends foreshadowing some dire events that soon manifest in book 2 (per my normal policy, I will express what I like about a book without revealing major plot points where possible. I still don’t talk about the box in Seven, just in case). But Bear also takes the reader on a journey to new locations and introduces new plots and perils for the protagonists to overcome.

The additional details and time devoted to the Wizards of Tsarepheth was greatly appreciated, as well as learning more about Re-Temur’s Uthman relations and visiting places there were mentioned in the first book, but now get a chance to take center stage. We get to see more of Temur, Samarkar, Brother Hsiung, and Hrahima but we also get to see more of Yongten-la, Hong-la, al-Sepehr, Saadet and others from the first book, as well as newly introduced characters.

Many times in a trilogy, the 2nd book faces the peril of being a bridge between two more dynamic, exciting parts, bogged down in explanations, the laying of later revealed plots and items the writer felt needed to be in the work, but not in beginning or end. This is not the case with Shattered Pillars, it maintains the level of excitement that Range of Ghosts started, and again, I find myself hoping the pace continues for the 3rd book. If you haven’t sampled this series, I suggest you do so as soon as possible.