After the death of Mongke Khagan, the heirs to the Khaganate of the steppes went to war. Defeated by his cousin, the rightful heir Temur flees, joining a caravan of refugees headed toward mountains known as the Range of Ghosts. Adopted into the Tsareg tribe, Temur plans revenge while avoiding sorcerous attempts on his own life. When his path crosses that of the wizard Samarkar, a former princess who seeks her independence, Temur realizes that they can help each other-and perhaps save the world from dark forces that could tear it apart. Bear, winner of the 2005 John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer, a 2006 Locus Award for Hammered, and two Hugo Awards for short fiction, creates a vivid, multicultural world reminiscent of Eurasia during the 12th and 13th centuries, after the death of Genghis Khan dissolved an empire that included the Mongols, Tatars, and Chinese. Her characters possess depth of feeling as well as political acumen, bringing a personal element to a broad-scale epic fantasy.
VERDICT Fans of George R.R. Martin’s “Song of Ice and Fire” series should welcome this gracefully told tale of war, political intrigue, and personal drama. Highly recommended.