"The Eternal Sky" series (which includes two other novellas) is a wonderful combination of history (Central Asia just after the death of Genghis Khan) and fantasy (the requisite dragons, magic and a lot of reworked geography). The complex plot involves a whole bunch of characters, and though most are interesting, the evil villain's motivation for his nonstop villainy isn't quite as well worked out as for those who are out to do good.
Another nitpick: After more than a thousand pages of struggle and woe, the protagonists (spoiler alert if you've never read a fantasy book before) finally win -- and get about five pages of smiles and redemption. How about a little more peace, love and understanding at the end of such a long slog through demons, evil djinns, and general pain and suffering?
But most readers are used to that structure by now, so I wholeheartedly recommend this series -- but definitely start with "Range of Ghosts," or you'll never quite catch up to Bear's complex world-building.
Rawn sets this quartet on a world with magic -- these four perform dramas that are fueled by that magic, which allows four people to put on complete shows -- and then sends them off, in "Elsewhens," to tour another continent.
OK, there's more to "Elsewhens" than the British invasion of the '60s, as Rawn has given her Townshend figure a troubling magical ability to see potential futures, most of which end up with the Moon figure dead, dying or a miserable drug addict. The relationship between these two is really the focus of the first two in the four-book series, and it's complicated by their devotion to alcohol and a complex drug called thorn, which apparently combines the effects of heroin, cocaine and methamphetamines, depending on how it's made.
This constant harping on the rapidly changing emotional states of the two protagonists -- complicated, of course, by their relationships with women and other band members -- gets in the way of enjoying Rawn's carefully built world (there are giants, wizards, goblins and other races) and a plot that could be a lot more interesting if it were more front and center.
Still, Willrich is an engaging writer, and his mashup of history and culture sets the stage for his fast-paced series of hairbreadth escapes and unlikely occurrences.
Contact Clay Kallam at email@example.com.