The Stone in the Skull

Elizabeth Bear
The Stone in the Skull Cover

The Stone in the Skull


Excellent worldbuilding, but only the first part of the story

The Lotus Kingdoms are the scattered remains of a once great empire, small kingdoms each with their own rulers, and with widely-varying geographies and resources. Such a setup means that the rulers of the poorer, more desolate lands covet their richer neighbors, positioning themselves to take advantage of any momentary weakness.

Two mercenary-adventurers are escorting a trade caravan, with a secret second mission: to bring a powerful sorcerer's message to the young ruler of one of the wealthier kingdoms. As they approach their destination, they realize that they are riding into an impending war.

I was able to read and enjoy this without having read the earlier Eternal Sky trilogy, which took place in the same world, but centuries before this one. I enjoyed it enough that I am now going to pick up the original 3 books.

This is very much a setup novel, though, and is not really a complete story on its own. However, I will definitely be reading the subsequent books in the series. Those who dislike being left hanging might do well to wait until the next book has been released.