Fantasy author Eliabeth Bear is kicking off her Eternal Sky trilogy with the RT Top Pick! rated read, Range of Ghosts. It's an epic fantasy following the adventures of Temur, a young man destined to claim his grandfather's throne and become King of the Khaganate, and Samarkar, a former Princess who is now studying the magical arts. The two come together when they discover a secret cult that may be threatening their world. Today, the author shares five things that readers should know before entering into Range of Ghosts.
1) It's not historical fantasy.
While I drew a great deal of inspiration from the cultures of Eurasia over the course of about 500 years, I made the very conscious choice not to model this world on the history of "our" Earth. So you don't need to know any Mongolian or Central Asian or Eurasian history to read this book.
Because I made it all up. So it's my job to make sure you understand what's going on! No studying required.
A sense of adventure will serve you in good stead, though. I can promise plenty of that. Also, sweeping vistas, bloodthirsty usurpers, ancient orders of wizardry, black powder weapons, magical artifacts, masked assassins, cunning poetesses, superhuman feats of horsemanship, and the occasional djinni.
And if you think there's nothing new under the sun where fantasy in concerned—in this book, there are rather a lot of suns. Every kingdom gets its own. And a selection of moons and constellations, too.
2) Ancient death cults!
Because what's an epic fantasy in the Conan tradition without at least one murderous necromancer raising your dead relatives and wiping out cities that you were relying upon for desperately-needed aid?
Sure, everybody dumps on necromancers. They're unfairly stigmatized, and any number of necromancers are useful citizens, taxpayers, hard-working men and women who keep their fences painted and their lawns mowed and contribute to the Firefighters' Fund.
But in this case, it's justified. You have to be suspicious of a guy whose religious order was founded as a personality cult by somebody who went by the name, "the Carrion King."
Which is its own selling point, if you ask me. You can't have a book about horse nomads without horses, after all. And there's one horse in particular—She's no Shadowfax—it's hard to measure up to a standard like that when your name is "Dumpling" in Mongolian*—but she does all right. And she does have a better sense of humor than most fantasy steeds.
Bansh is a Steppe horse—more of a hardy, durable pony than a giant destrier—clever and sure-footed, and a good ally in a fight.
Every good conqueror needs a noble charger. Did you know that Alexander the Great's horse Bucephalus was so honored that Alexander named a city in Pakistan (modern Phiala) for him?
*(Because for some odd reason, many horses seem to be named after pastry.)
4) Absolutely no naïve farmboy protagonists. Guaranteed.
Because if there's one thing the epic fantasy genre has enough of... it's naïve farmboys. Especially naïve farmboys with a Destiny. They're so thick on the ground, you could pave with 'em.
I can however offer you one exiled second son (and former general) and one scion of a royal house who has abdicated her position in order to study wizardry. Neither one of them is particularly naïve—and they both have a pretty good sense of tactics.
In a slightly more secondary role, there's a monk who—for mysterious reasons—has taken a vow of silence, and a bipedal tiger with a mysterious past, who also happens to be roughly one-third-again the size of a typical N.F.L. linebacker.
And did I mention the pony?
5) Megafauna. Everything's better with giant animals!
I know cave lions, sabertooth cats, mammoths, and indricotheres have fallen out of favor in modern fantasy—but I've never really understood why. Sure, sure, most of the biggest Northern megafauna didn't survive the end of the last ice age—but this is fantasy!
And since it's fantasy, I can offer you...really, really big things. Giant mammals from the distant past! Enormous birds out of the Arabian Nights! And... the occasional marmot! Which, okay, is not as exciting. But they do have a lot of them in Central Asia.
Anyway, really big things combine with ancient cities and mysterious sorcerers and assassinations and plots to contribute to really big excitement—and really big fun.
- Elizabeth Bear