The Red-Stained Wings is a delightful follow-up to Elizabeth Bear’s The Stone in the Skull. While my one complaint from the previous book still stands (LET ME SEE THE GAGE FIGHT dangit!), I was enthralled by the new events and plot points introduced in The Red-Stained Wings. Bear’s prose and worldbuilding is stellar as always, and it’s a joy to see characters you’ve been following for 500-odd pages across two books meet up and finally interact.
The Undefeated is a novel that fails to live up to an interesting premise. I was excited to read about a “warrior of words” and “no holds barred” journalist – the blurb mentions front-line war zones, courageous exposés on corruption, scandal, et cetera. I came in expecting a thrilling space opera with excitement and action.
The plot and all of its twists and turns is carried lightly atop Bear’s prose. She is not, however, pretentious in her word-weaving – far from it! I was taken by both her ability to create a glistening, crystalline scene that seemed to hold me hostage as well as her ability to drop me back down to earth with surprising grace and humor. I laughed aloud at several lines, and grinned at the wry comments sprinkled throughout the novel.
Up until I read Los Nefilim, I had never really considered myself a fan of urban fantasy. I’ve read and enjoyed a couple one-offs, sure, but it was never a genre I actively sought out. Reading this book gave me a full-blown identity crisis. I utterly ADORED these novellas. I ate them up. They were wonderful. I loved the setting, I loved the characters, I loved the writing! I could gush for a while about these books. I currently have the sequel full length novel, Where Oblivion Lives, on order, and I can’t wait to read it.