Search Site
This site uses cookies to deliver our services, improve performance, for analytics, and (if not signed in) for advertising. By using LibraryThing you acknowledge that you have read and understand our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. Your use of the site and services is subject to these policies and terms.
Hide this

Results from Google Books

Click on a thumbnail to go to Google Books.

The Stone in the Skull: The Lotus Kingdoms,…

The Stone in the Skull: The Lotus Kingdoms, Book One (edition 2017)

by Elizabeth Bear (Author)

Series: The Lotus Kingdoms (1)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
1767118,280 (3.78)5
The Gage is a brass automaton created by a wizard of Messaline around the core of a human being. His wizard is long dead, and he works as a mercenary. He is carrying a message from a the most powerful sorcerer of Messaline to the Rajni of the Lotus Kingdom. With him is The Dead Man, a bitter survivor of the body guard of the deposed Uthman Caliphate, protecting the message and the Gage. They are friends, of a peculiar sort. -- amazon.com… (more)
Title:The Stone in the Skull: The Lotus Kingdoms, Book One
Authors:Elizabeth Bear (Author)
Info:Tor Books (2017), 368 pages
Collections:Your library

Work details

The Stone in the Skull by Elizabeth Bear


Sign up for LibraryThing to find out whether you'll like this book.

No current Talk conversations about this book.

» See also 5 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 7 (next | show all)
By the end of this new fantasy of Elizabeth Bear, I was completely under its spell. Like, utterly.

But I really need to be honest here: most of the novel is really slow-paced and focused on slow reveals about the lands as the Gage (a fantasy cyborg) and the Dead Man, a highly-skilled bodyguard, travel in a caravan and we get to know and love them. We also get to know the ruler of their intended destination. And I got to love her, too. :)

The best part of this is not the action but the character development. And there's a LOT of character development. Very slow burn, but after a while, I was fully entranced and invested.

It hardly matters, by that point, that the full-blown action was blowing me away after they get to their destination. Once they are all together, everything gets really great. So great, in fact, that I had to drop all my other plans and start reading my ARC of the second book. Like, now.

And it is all action so far. :) Yay! Loving it. :) ( )
  bradleyhorner | Jun 1, 2020 |
Full review to come. I really enjoy the detailed fantasy world Bear creates in this and the Eternal Sky trilogy, and it was fun to see some overlapping characters pop up (although Stone in the Skull is set in a different part of the world and can definitely be read without prior knowledge of the previous books). at the same time, this felt a lot like a set-up volume, and my patience is currently limited for books without a strong self-contained narrative. ( )
  Arifel | Sep 22, 2018 |
At the moment, there is only one other rating for this title here on Goodreads and it doesn't have a review, so I feel like I should say something, but I'm not thinking of anything that I'm happy with. So...I guess I'll just say that Elizabeth Bear is one of my go-to authors and I have never been disappointed by any of her books. If you enjoy stories that do new and interesting things with mythology and religion and folklore and belief; where neither gender nor sexuality are binary; and where magic, science, and technology are all to be equally embraced and reviled, then you could do much worse than to discover the work of Elizabeth Bear and The Stone in the Skull would be a fine place to start your explorations. ( )
  BillieBook | Apr 1, 2018 |
Lots of promising starting material, this is very much the first of a series. First we spend an intensely episodic long journey with an ex-Dead Man and The Gage, a human who has slowly become the tin man but retains 'heart', Then two rajnis of two small separate southeast Asian style remnants of a larger empire. Mrithuri, who struggles to retain the rule she inherited from her grandfather without submitting to marriage and Sayeh, recently a widow, miraculously the living mother of an heir, since her body did not have a womb or vagina, whose rule is unpopular and rapidly becomes vastly ill-omened and unfortunate. I am not enjoying the humid river laced landscape as much as the steppe of The Eternal Sky trilogy, nor have the characters charmed me as deeply. But enough to look forward the the next book in the series. ( )
  quondame | Jan 18, 2018 |
This review and others posted over at my blog.

I have no idea how to describe the plot of this book in a succinct way that also makes sense. It’s fantasy, with a touch of steampunk and an Asian feel to the world. The book is heavy on political intrigue and geography, yet the characters are so compelling that two potentially boring (for me, anyway) subjects fell neatly into the background.

I don’t normally refer to maps, but I found the one in this book particularly helpful in giving me a sense of the world. In the first half of the book, there’s a lot of travel going on and it was nice to get a feel for where the characters were headed.

Oh, the characters. What an unexpectedly varied cast this book has! The Dead Man is not actually dead – I think his title has something to do with his religion or like, former job – his face is just constantly veiled. His home is gone and I got the sense that he’s the “dying breed” type though people still recognize his title. The Gage is a sweet fuckin’ automaton built by a wizard and towards the end of the story, his character had some excellent development that I didn’t see coming. There’s a priest of indeterminate gender who is much more powerful than they seem and has a badass golden eye. There are two ruling Rajnis (like princesses or queens, I suppose) who are actually cousins. One is addicted to snake venom because it helps her deal with the stress of ruling alone, the other is of “the third sex” and has to fight to keep her reign so that her young son can rule in the future.

On top of all that there are court wizards both male and female, cat-like people and dragons! There’s even a boneless man. The cast was more diverse than any I’ve come across in a fantasy book in quite some time and I loved it.

I loved the world building too. It wasn’t heavy-handed, yet I felt I really had a grasp on what Bear was going for. I love when an author can accomplish some complex world building without dense chapters of history and geography.

Totally random gripe: There was a sentence that felt incredibly modern and it really pulled me out of the story for a moment.

“Pain is the proof that sometimes God is too busy thinking about blowjobs to do Her work properly, and in the interstices people get hurt.”

I’m not implying that people didn’t use the word “blowjob” in ye olde times, but something about the way this sentence was constructed had me scratching my head. Incredibly minor issue, however.

I do take issue with the end of this book though! It’s a total cliffhanger and I’m mad as hell because this book just came out AND I NEED MORE! I wanna know what happens next right now not in a year or more. I’m going to forget everything by the time the next book comes out (shush, those of you saying how I forget a book a few weeks after I read it).

I will definitely be reading more work by Elizabeth Bear. Fun fact, she’s married to Scott Lynch of Lies of Locke Lamora fame! I knew she was cool! I highly recommend this if you’re looking for something a little different in your fantasy, but be prepared for that ending!

I received this book for free from Tor in exchange for an honest review. ( )
  MillieHennessy | Nov 19, 2017 |
Showing 1-5 of 7 (next | show all)
no reviews | add a review

» Add other authors

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Elizabeth Bearprimary authorall editionscalculated
Anderson, RichardCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

Belongs to Series

You must log in to edit Common Knowledge data.
For more help see the Common Knowledge help page.
Canonical title
Original title
Alternative titles
Original publication date
Important places
Important events
Related movies
Awards and honors
First words
Last words
Disambiguation notice
Publisher's editors
Original language
Canonical DDC/MDS

References to this work on external resources.

Wikipedia in English


The Gage is a brass automaton created by a wizard of Messaline around the core of a human being. His wizard is long dead, and he works as a mercenary. He is carrying a message from a the most powerful sorcerer of Messaline to the Rajni of the Lotus Kingdom. With him is The Dead Man, a bitter survivor of the body guard of the deposed Uthman Caliphate, protecting the message and the Gage. They are friends, of a peculiar sort. -- amazon.com

No library descriptions found.

Book description
Haiku summary

LibraryThing Author

Elizabeth Bear is a LibraryThing Author, an author who lists their personal library on LibraryThing.

profile page | author page

Quick Links

Popular covers


Average: (3.78)
2 2
3 5
3.5 2
4 16
4.5 1
5 3


About | Contact | Privacy/Terms | Help/FAQs | Blog | Store | APIs | TinyCat | Legacy Libraries | Early Reviewers | Common Knowledge | 157,744,240 books! | Top bar: Always visible