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All the Windwracked Stars (Sci Fi Essential Books) Hardcover – 6 Dec 2008

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Tor Books (6 Dec. 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0765318822
  • ISBN-13: 978-0765318824
  • Product Dimensions: 14.9 x 3.1 x 21.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,644,212 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

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Product Description


"Bear's ... elegant storytelling should appeal to fans of Charles de Lint, Jim Butcher, and other cross world and urban fantasy authors." "--Library Journal" on "Whiskey and Water" "Bear has a gift for capturing both the pleasure and pain involved in loving someone else, particularly in the acid love story between Kusanagi-Jones and Katherinessen. While these double-crossed lovers bring the novel to a nail-biting conclusion, it is the complex interplay of political motives and personal desires that lends the novel its real substance." --"Washington"" Post" on "Carnival"

About the Author

Elizabeth Bear was born on the same day as Frodo and Bilbo Baggins, but in a different year. This, coupled with a childhood tendency to read the dictionary for fun, led her inevitably to penury, intransigence, the mispronunciation of common English words, and the writing of speculative fiction. She is the author of seven previous sf/f novels, including "A Companion to Wolves" with Sarah Monette.

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Mark Shackelford TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 11 Nov. 2009
Format: Mass Market Paperback
After Ragnarok (when the world of the Valkyrie ended) the world then evolved the Human race. A few thousand years later, the Humans had managed to invent atomic bombs, genetically engineered viruses and a whole host of other unpleasant side effects of technology, which (naturally) destroyed most of the planet - leaving only one city maintained by a powerful techno-wizard.

Just one remaining Valkyrie (and her steed) has the task of saving the planet from final destruction - and along the way we meet a host of intriguing characters. Humans genetically engineered as animals, or as cyborgs, or in one case, a computer.

In Elizabeth Bear's usual way this oblique look at humanity from a fantasy angle all makes sense (although many paragraphs may need a second going over before they release their meaning).

On a par with Mark Chadbourn's "Dark Age" trilogy, or some of Ursula Le Guin's fantasy, and Mary Gentle's fantasy work - thoroughly recommended.

And do try Bear's "Promethean Age" series - pure bliss!
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 19 reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Norse mythology and apocalyptic science fiction combined to create a dark dreamscape 9 Mar. 2010
By Greg - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
When the battle (Ragnarok) is over, only three immortals are left alive: Muire, the smallest waelcyrge, the valraven, Kasmir, a two-headed, winged war-mount, and the one whose betrayal damned them all. Together they live through the coming ages to play their roles in the very last days of the world.

I needed something really different to read and All the Windwracked Stars was just what the doctor ordered and more. Elizabeth Bear combines Norse mythology and apocalyptic science fiction to create a dark dreamscape, and also invents a very intriguing concept: angels whose god is either dead or has gone missing.

The desperately savage combat at the beginning of All the Windwracked Stars drew me right in and I soon found myself liking characters that I normally would not. The prose is somewhat surreal, and this story has a rather strange flow which, at times, made it a little difficult for me to follow. Usually I'd find that a little irritating, but for the EDDA OF BURDENS series, this wistful style works perfectly because the characters themselves are lost souls struggling to understand their own destinies.

I was once a big fan of Apocalyptic Sci-fi, so it was a refreshing thrill to lose myself in Elizabeth Bear's dying world. The outcome of doomsday comes down to a handful of unique misfits in a truly original story. I especially liked the conclusion and I was so gloomily fascinated that I immediately downloaded the Kindle version of the next book, By the Mountain Bound.

I almost never jump into the next book in a series without a break between, but By the Mountain Bound is the story leading up to the battle of Ragnarok -- the beginning of All the Windwracked Stars -- and I just had to know the answers to some of the wonderfully tantalizing mysteries left unexplained in this book
9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
good book 31 Oct. 2008
By Eleanor Skinner - Published on
Format: Hardcover
This is set in the same world of her stories 'Ice' & 'The Devil You Don't' from her collection The Chains That You Refuse. In fact, 'Ice' seems to be an excerpt or something that expanded into the novel, & from side references in Windwracked Stars it looks like 'The Devil You Don't' actually happened too. But you don't need to have read either story to read the novel.

Muire is a waelcyrge, a valkyrie in the Norse sort of world of the book. Ragnarok happened. Unfortunately, she ran away. She comes back after the battle to find everything she has ever known dead, except for an almost-dead valraven (two-headed intelligent pegasus) and the empty place where the body of Mingan the Wolf (sort of Loki & Fenris combined) had lain. The valraven convinces Muire to make a stab at living, at least as an emotional cripple, & in turn is reborn when Muire asks for a miracle.

Fast forward a few thousand years to a post-apocalyptic wasteland, the last city alive on Valdygard (the earth/planet). It's protected from the wastes outside by the Technomancer, & Muire is living a quiet life when she suddenly meets both the reincarnation of Strifbjorn, the einherjar (angel/Norse god) she had loved from afar, & the still-dangerous old incarnation of Mingan, who vampyrically kills a man before disappearing. Muire has to deal with a shock to her emotional stability & the threat of her old enemy's reappearance.

Elizabeth Bear seems to like Norse mythology, as it was also the background for A Companion to Wolves, co-written with Sarah Monette. This is a novel about surviving and about being reborn, & reminded me at various times of parts of Bujold's A Civil Campaign ('the trouble with oaths of the form, death before dishonor, is that eventually, given enough time and abrasion, they separate the world into just two sorts of people: the dead, and the forsworn'), my favourite Fire Logic, by Laurie J Marks, & parts of Diane Duane. It also has intelligent animal-people (including a catgirl with a whip) who serve the Technomancer, called moreaux in a nod to HG Wells. I was waiting the whole book for some kind of reference to C'Mell (which didn't come). It was a really hard book to put down, & I liked it very much.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
"A series of somewhat intractable technical challenges" 20 Feb. 2010
By lb136 - Published on
Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
A breathtaking prose-poem of the far future by the can-do-anything author Elizabeth Bear references without necessarily paying gushing hommage to, Cordwainer Smith's tales of the Underpeople (here there's a cat-woman named Selene, not C'Mell). And there are also some Jack Vanceian elements (cf the opening paragraphs of chapter 17 at page 238)--as well as the magic-tech and techological magic of Joan D. Vinge's "Snow Queen" trilogy.

Anyway, it's based on old Norse myth, and features the tale of the semi-immortal waelcyrge (valkrie)-historian Muire, her companion the valraven Kasimir (a two-headed winged horse), and Cathoair (a male prostitute and beerhall prizefighter) and the villianous(?) Grey Wolf, who wants to destroy what's left of the dying earth in order to reboot it. It's played out at the end of time in which only one city is left standing--and that due to the efforts of the Technomancer.

Ms. Bear mixes the mythic and the mechancial with incredible skill. (At one point Muire gets a smart phone message that one her companions is in trouble and dashes off to the rescue wielding a sword. And in context, it makes sense!) The tale is so clever that one weak section, in which (oh no!) a character who has fled to safely just HAS to leave that safety to attend to business, just might have been tossed in there deliberately as a riff.

I'm not sure.

Whatever, the writing is breathtaking. Don't speedread, please.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Confusing... 21 April 2012
By xenofan - Published on
Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
I was so excited when I found this book listed on Amazon, because I love Norse mythology and thought this book sounded so very interesting.

But unfortunately, having read 60 pages, I am forced to give up. By this point, I feel I should have made some sort of connection to the characters and their world - I should care for them and their conflicts - but I didn't.

The prose didn't work for me. Whilst there are some vividly described environments in this book, and the atmosphere is certainly not lacking, I felt that more time needed to be spent on the story itself. There were times, when due to rather clunky and abrupt writing, I was completely lost as to what was happening.

Others who gave this book a poor review have said it, and I agree with them: I kept feeling like maybe I had missed a book or something. The author throws names and events around like I'm supposed to know what they mean. I didn't.

At page 60, I found myself feeling lost, unable to connect to the characters and not really drawn in or hooked by the plot. I also had trouble with the names themselves - yes, I know that the book is based on Norse mythology, so names are going to have definite Nordic inspirations, but this one threw so many different and strange names at me at once, that I had trouble keeping track of so much new information at once. I couldn't even work out how to pronounce half of the names and found myself wishing there had been a pronunciation guide included somewhere.

I'm sorely disappointed that I didn't like this book more. I thought I could, if things had been made clearer. There was a lot interesting about the story and its world and characters - just not enough to warrant me reading through to the end. I will check out some of the authors other works though; I do feel that she has great potential.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Bear's Got Bite! Norse Mythology and High SF 5 April 2009
By Jvstin - Published on
Format: Hardcover
Elizabeth Bear is an audacious, difficult, and ultimately rewarding author. There are good reasons why she won a Campbell award, and a Hugo award. She's ambitious, writes characters who are all-too-human, and is very willing to take standard pieces of the F/SF genre, and rework them, remix myth and Story into it, and come out with books and stories that bite.

All the Windwracked Stars is the latest in that tradition. Informed and infused by Norse mythology, the novel begins with, paradoxically, a Ragnarok. We meet Muire, last of the Valkyrie, and Kasimir, the Valraven steed that bonds to her in the denouement of that final battle. Muire the Historian, to her shame, does not die as the rest of the Children of the Light do, and so lives on and on to see civilization, this time a human one, arise again on Valdyrgard. As you might expect, with a novel based so heavily on Norse stories, and given Bear's writing proclivities and style, the novel carries us headlong toward the inevitable fall of this human civilization.

It is between these two falls of civilizations that the meat of the novel and the Story take place. Muire still has her Valkyrie obligations, and it is in the unfolding of those obligations that Muire encounters an old enemy, and discovers the real reason why Eiledon, the last city, has managed to survive until the end under its implacable, mysterious ruler, the Technomancer.

Norse Myth and Mythology. Strange technology and a Last City set in blasted landscape. Complex characters muddling along as best they can. Muire seeks a chance at redemption, a strong and potent theme in the novel, reflected across the range of characters. And while it might not be a crackerjack straightforward plot, Bear hauntingly and memorably creates Valdyrgard and Eiledon and its denizens.

I've said in other reviews that Bear's work is probably not for everyone, or every SF reader. However, given that she is at the cutting edge of the newest generation of SF writers, if you want to see why the "young turks" of SF are doing with the genre, Bear is a strong choice for you to find that out. In an publishing age where Fantasy is ascendant over its technologically inclined brother, its refreshing, encouraging, and joyful to find a writer who does write fantasy (e.g. The Promethean age novels), but who is also willing to write darned good science fiction, with no apologies. And more importantly than just being willing to write science fiction, but to be very good at it.

Barq's Root Beer has a tagline: "Barq's Got Bite!". I would say, however, having read a number of her novels, and especially after reading this one, that "Bear's Got Bite!".
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