This was sitting on the library shelf, just waiting for me. How could I resist?Once again, the author lovingly embraces, and then subverts, every trope of the quest fantasy. Bear has created a world - no, worlds - where nations have their own sky, and magic serves both villains and heros. The protagonists, Temur and Samarkar, are royalty (another departure for the author, who excels at everyday folk) - and survivors of warfare overt and covert in their respective lands. Their journey takes them from nation to nation, gathering unlikely allies. The comrades are flawed but not - quite - broken, something Bear does particularly well. Uncharacteristically, she stumbles in the first few chapters. While searching for a voice, she goes for profound but only reaches pompous. She hits her stride a few chapters in, though; and leaves the ponderous pronouncements behind.While the wellspring of this tale is not necessarily as unique as some would have it (I can think of at least three writers, including Mary Gentle, who have plumbed similar folklore and geography), it's excellent work. Go forth and read it!