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Review: Range of Ghosts

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Range of Ghosts
Range of Ghosts by Elizabeth Bear
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Ever since those magical days in the 90s that I first read the Empire series by Raymond Feist and Janny Wurts, I have a weakness for fantasy and historical books within an Asian setting. I could really use more recommendations for that area, really, so if you have any, comment away! Range of Ghosts was recommended by a friend, and is a fantasy story clearly based on Asian tales. It’s Mongols meet feudal Chinese/Japanese meet Arabian assassins. Quite a fun mix.

The protagonist of the story is Temur, grandson of the Great Khagan of the Qersnyk whose empire is falling to dust as his descendants squabble over who gets to rule. Temur is one of few survivors of a battle at the capital of the Qersnyk, razed by Qori Buqa, one of the warlords trying for the throne. He is assisted by assassins from Rathman, led by the mysterious al-Sepehr. Temur joins up with fellow Qersnyk, and falls in love with Edene, a girl from the tribe he’s travelling with. Qori Buqa wants to have Temur dead as he is a threat to his claims for the throne, and so ghosts are sent after him, kidnapping Edene.

Temur sets out to rescue her, travelling wide and far, and finding companions in Samarkar, a princess turned wizard, a silent fighting monk, and an imposing woman from a race of cat-people, the Cho-Tse. And let’s not forget his valiant pony, Bansh.

It’s well written, and it’s an interesting world. It’s still doing my head in that apparently every part of the world under another ruler has different skies and celestial bodies. Qersnyk have moons for every royal family member, e.g. Quite fascinating.

If I have one beef with the book is that at least half of it seems all exposure and build-up and it didn’t feel like a story of its own. You turn the last page, and even though there’s no cliffhanger, you feel you need more because there’s no real satisfying conclusion. It’s quite obviously the first book in a series. I am hoping the next book comes sooner than later!

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