Book Review 2: Chill

I finished reading Elizabeth Bear’s Chill, the second book in her Jacob’s Ladder Trilogy. I’ve said before that in some of her work she writes like Zelazny at his best. By which I mean “In among the things she does in her books, she does some of the things he did in his books, with at least as much craft as he did.” I happen to think her characterization is stronger, that her characters are more human than his were. Jacob’s Ladder is supposed to call Oberon’s brood to mind as you read it, though I think that it does so in a manner that is at least as much “Lord of Light” as “Chronicles of Amber” (and while Amber is comfort reading for me, Lord of Light is a better book) and I think she compares well in her handling of a group of ancient related near immortals to that second book.
So I bought Chill when it came out, but at the time I really lacked the focus to read much of anything, and eBear’s books need some of that focus to get the most out of the, so I squeed about some of the lines in the first fifty pages then I set it down. Well I ordered book three (grail) a couple of days ago and I figured that I would read Chill before it got here. Happily my focus is back and I managed to read and enjoy the book.
One of my favorite pieces of story telling/world building technology that eBear uses is causing the reader to come to a conclusion about part of the background of the setting just a few paragraphs before explicitly stating that conclusion in the text. It happens more in the early part of the book when the ratio of plot to worldbuilding is lower, though she never stops worldbuilding, it is just that the world building becomes more entwined with the action of the book. The best was the early parts about the Builders.

Obviously I’m not going to suggest you go out and buy Chill today. Go and buy the first book of Jacob’s Ladder “Dust” today, and in a couple of days when you have finished it, go ahead and get both Dust and Grail.
Or her self propelled Muppet doesn’t get to eat.

(As a disclaimer: yes I am a fan. eBear is one of my 3 or 4 favorite living authors. Even though I don’t love everything she writes. Add in dead authors and her placing stays very high, depending on the day, it may not move at all.)

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