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Cover image for Dancing bears
Dancing bears
1st ed.
Publication Information:
New York : TOR, 1996.
Physical Description:
349 pages ; 24 cm
General Note:
"A Tom Doherty Associates book."
Early this century a Russian landowner invites an American colleague to hunt bear on his estate. For John Sherwood, it's the start of an incredible adventure as the bears turn out to be shape-shifting men. One of them is the landowner's brother, Maxim, and he mauls Sherwood, who subsequently becomes a shape-shifting bear himself and falls in love with Natalya, the landowner's sister. Political interest is added by Maxim being a state policeman and Natalya, a revolutionary.


Call Number

On Order



In a Russia on the brink of Revolution, the legendary were-bears of Slavic myth suddenly reappear. "Fred Saberhagen's "Dancing Bears" is an exciting tale of an American hunter chased across pre-Revolutionary Russia by a noble with the ability to turn into a bear".--"Weekly Press".

Author Notes

Author Fred Saberhagen was born in Chicago, Illinois on May 18, 1930. Before writing full time, he served in the Air Force, worked as an electronics technician, and wrote and edited for the Encyclopaedia Britannica. His first novel, The Golden People, was published in 1964. He has written science fiction, fantasy, alternate history, and historical fantasy. The novel Berserker was published in 1967 and became the first book in his popular Berserker series. His company, Berserker Works, Ltd., has produced several computer games based on his characters. He died on June 29, 2007.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 4

Publisher's Weekly Review

Fantasy and historical fiction blend well in this tale of were-bears in Russia on the brink of its 1917 Revolution. American John Sherwood goes with his friend Gregori Lohmatski to hunt a man-eating bear on Gregori's estate, only to find that the peasants' stories of men turning into bears are true. The heart of the book is an exploration of the savagery and abuses of power of both the czar's men and the revolutionaries, against which the ability to become a beast proves both helpful and, ironically, humane. When the manipulations of Gregori's power-hungry brother lead to Gregori's imprisonment, Sherwood and the incarcerated man's sister flee east across Russia to escape prison themselves and to free Gregori. Despite the panoramic scenery, the cultural and historical detail sometimes seems sparse. Still, the characters are very strong, and the suspense generated by their plight will engross most readers as Saberhagen (Merlin's Bones) weaves another satisfying story of the supernatural. (Jan.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Kirkus Review

Visiting London in 1908, Russian landowner Gregori Lohmatski is urgently called home when his father is reported killed by a giant bear. He asks his American friend, hunter John Sherwood, to join him; but when the two arrive at his Padarok Lessa estate east of St. Petersburg, Gregori finds that his father is indeed dead; his brother, Maxim, an officer of the political police, is missing; and his revolutionary sister, Natalya, is waiting defiantly to be arrested. Meanwhile, Sherwood tries to track the homicidal bear, without success, and ponders Gregori's shamefaced confession that certain of the Lohmatskis are capable of shape-shifting into bears. Then Maxim shows up, with only feeble explanations for his absence. The police drag Gregori away and attempt to grab Natalya; she and Sherwood flee, chased by Maxim--in bear form! Maxim the bear mauls Sherwood, who wounds Maxim with a silver bullet. Recovering swiftly, Sherwood becomes a were-bear himself. Pursued by Maxim's agents, he and Natalya--soon becoming lovers--then head for Siberia, where he intends to become a bear-god to the superstitious locals. The traditional equation of bears with Russia, redeveloped here, hardly amounts to allegory as the publishers seem to think; otherwise, a well-handled and historically engaging fantasy--though not quite up to the standard of Merlin's Bones (1994).

Booklist Review

Gr. 10^-12. In a fast-paced horror tale with just enough gore, an American hunter in 1908 Russia, able to change shapes after being wounded by a werebear, uses his newly found power to track a friend who's been falsely imprisoned.

Library Journal Review

Saberhagen, a familiar face in the sf and fantasy genres, combines historical fiction and the macabre in this tale of a Russian Revolution-era family who have the ability to morph into giant bears. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.