Steles of the Sky (The Eternal Sky)
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Elizabeth Bear concludes her award-winning epic fantasy trilogy, The Eternal Sky, with Steles of the Sky.
Re Temur, exiled heir to his grandfather's Khaganate, has finally raised his banner and declared himself at war with his usurping uncle. With his companions―the Wizard Samarkar, the Cho-tse Hrahima, and the silent monk Brother Hsiung―he must make his way to Dragon Lake to gather in his army of followers.
Temur has many enemies, and they are not idle. The sorcerer who leads the Nameless Assassins, whose malice has shattered the peace of all the empires of the Celedon Highway, has struck at Temur's uncle already. To the south, in the Rasan empire, a magical plague rages. To the east, the great city of Asmaracanda has burned, and the Uthman Caliph is deposed. And in the hidden ancient empire of Erem, Temur's son has been born, and a new moon has risen in the Eternal Sky.
consider her an ally, yes. And I consider her a friend.” Tsering nodded. “She’s gone off. To give Temur and Edene some time alone. She gave the little boy to his monster nursemaid and went for a walk. I do not think she should be without … friends.” Monkey customs and social structures were a fascinating mystery. They were not like Hrr-tchee, content with mate and cub until the cub was grown, coming together otherwise in only the most ritualized of circumstances in order to teach, to learn, to
the bloody, violent game that involved dragging the carcass of a goat this way and that until somebody managed to carry it over a line. She could pick out the ethereal shimmer of the Khagan’s near-white stud amid the crush, but could not see who rode him. Except for one bright chestnut, all the other mounts were too smeared with filth to seem anything but a muddy brown. Now there was a hand on her forearm, gently, and Hsiung frowning at her when her attention came back to him. Somewhere in the
stalks of new vegetation. Bansh sidled again, nickering to the storm-colored mare as if they were old friends. The woman with Tolui’s face raised her veils again. “You know this aid does not come without price, Temur Khagan.” “Oh,” Temur said. “I understand.” 26 Bansh climbed, and climbed, and her hoofbeats and silhouette dwindled at a rate far greater than even her great speed justified. It seemed as if she ran through mist, though the sky was cloudless. It was not long before the dusk
face, he breathed a sigh. “Your face is my peace,” he said, quoting the Prophet. It was not—quite—blasphemy, not if he spoke with reverence, to Ümmühan as an avatar of the Scholar-God. Her face—every woman’s face—was sacred in that way. But it was walking the line. Ümmühan schooled herself. No man had ever seen a trace of displeasure on her features, not since she took a woman’s veil. She was a secret priestess of the Scholar-God, and no man would see her weakness now. “My lion,” she said.
their families, she knew. Because not only had they turned against their old master—but their old master had escaped, and many of their colleagues with him. There was no guarantee that one or more of the Dead Men—or their dependents—was not still loyal to the old caliph. “I can’t,” she said, and bit the skin of her hand. “I can do nothing for them.” The weeping and the voices became a great wailing, a shriek of denial and then a stunned silence followed by terrible screams. The executions had