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Deathless [Kindle Edition]

Catherynne M. Valente
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)

Print List Price: £7.99
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Book Description

Child of the revolution, maiden of myth, bride of darkness

A handsome young man arrives in St Petersburg at the house of Marya Morevna. He is Koschei, the Tsar of Life, and he is Marya's fate.Koschei leads Marya to his kingdom, where she becomes a warrior in his tireless battle against his own brother, the Tsar of Death.Years pass. Battle-hardened, scarred by love, and longing for respite, Marya returns to St Petersburg - only to discover a place as pitiful as the land she has just fled: a starveling city, haunted by death.

Deathless is a fierce story of life and death, love and power, old memories, deep myth and dark magic, set against the history of Russia in the twentieth century. It is, quite simply, unforgettable.

Product Description


Romantic and blood-streaked, and infused with magic so real you can feel it on your fingertips - Deathless is beautiful. (Cory Doctorow)

Valente's invention and ambition are extraordinary. (The Times)

Cat Valente is the Ray Bradbury of her generation. (Lev Grossman, New York Times bestselling author of The Magicians)

Swept away to the icy wastes of the Russian steppes and the frigid streets of Stalinist St Petersburg I felt I'd happened upon a forgotten classic. A spine-tingling mix of magic and darkness, it echoes both The Master and Margarita and Angela Carter's The Company of Wolves. The prose is perfect, the imagery - houses made of living skin, birds that turn into husbands and, oh, so much blood - is spectacular and the story totally absorbing. This book is not just good, it is genuinely extraordinary. (Laura Kelly Big Issue)

Stories, unlike people . . . can live again . . . They must be revived by the miraculous touch of a very rare class of being, a kind of multi-classed genius/scholar/saint, who can restore them to life. Catherynne Valente is such a being. (Lev Grossman)

A remarkable piece of speculative fiction - a collision of myth, magic, folklore and actual history (almost incidentally describing the story of Russia across the twentieth century) . . . Bold, subversive, genre-defying. (BookOxygen)

Writers such as Brockmeier, Mieville and Valente are returning to fantasy for the many ways it can unlock the truth. Perhaps it is a consequence of living in an era of such radical change, but the fantasic seems once again to play a part in expressing the truth of our time. (Guardian)

Book Description

A glorious retelling of the Russian folktale Marya Morevna and Koschei the Deathless, set in a mysterious version of St. Petersburg during the first half of the 20th century.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 481 KB
  • Print Length: 353 pages
  • Publisher: Corsair (20 Nov. 2012)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00838EQAG
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #108,710 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
24 of 25 people found the following review helpful
Deathless is the latest from Catherynne M. Valente, and so, of course, it is a delight.

Having cast brilliant new light on One Thousand and One Nights in her two-volume opus The Orphan's Tales, and in The Habitation of the Blessed made a lurid and lyrical fantasy of the legends of 12th century Christian champion Prester John, Deathless sees Valente set her inimitable sights on Slavic folklore, with suitably stunning results. It begins:

"In a city by the sea which was once called St. Petersburg, then Petrograd, then Leningrad, then, much later, St. Petersburg again, there stood a long, thin house on a long, thin street. By a long, thin window, a child in a pale blue dress and pale green slippers waited for a bird to marry her." (p.15)

The child is Marya Morevna, here recast as a precocious young girl who whiles away her days dreaming of a husband, and better, brighter things. As well she should, for there are innumerable trials ahead: dark and troubling times for her city, for her family, and not least of all for Marya herself. However "the world is ordered in such a way that birds may be expected to turn into husbands at a moment's notice and no one may comment upon it at all," (p.23) so when "a great, hoary old black owl" (p.54) appears at the door of the long, thin house on the long, thin street as "a handsome young man in a handsome black coat, his dark hair curly and thick, flecked with silver, his mouth half-smiling, as if anticipating a terribly sweet thing," (p.55) and when that man asks after the hand of the girl who watches all from the long, thin window above, Marya's fate is sealed, and her dreams made real.

So it is that Marya comes to wed Koschei the Deathless, the Tsar of Life, who cannot die. "Fiendishly convenient things, wives.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars My Goodreads review: 5 Jan. 2015
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Just before finishing this book, I skimmed through some of the other low-star ratings on Goodreads. It seems that I'm in agreement with everyone here - it's not Valente, it's me; the book is so beautifully written, I just couldn't follow it/find it in me to care about the characters. I didn't see any mentions of other books by Valente, but I loved Silently and Very Fast and certainly enjoyed The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making. I approached Deathless with absolutely no trepidation, because the reviews were mostly glowing, and when I first heard of <i>Silently and Very Fast</i> it was in the context of <i>Deathless</i> being so good that reading other books had become impossible because nothing could live up to Valente's prose.

But what is there beyond prose? This book is based on a Russian fairy tale, which initially sounds very interesting. However, it doesn't take long before I found myself wondering if I was supposed to have known that fairy tale in intimate detail before I started - or at least the bare bones of it. When writing for a (prdominantly American?) Anglophone audience, I think it would have been safer to assume that most people wouldn't know the fairy tale, but I felt as if I was expected to know all the twists and turns, and thus found myself thinking "hang on, why did that happen?" every other chapter. I do have a vague knowledge of Russian history from A-Level (which was ten years ago, so I did have to look up some names), although we skipped over the war conduct to focus on how terrible Stalin was. This means that the bits which were based on Russian history, rather than myth, I could follow and enjoyed a lot more.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great read, with a lot of impact. 25 April 2013
By Kelly
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I read this book based on two things, firstly the author who also wrote The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making (which I love) and secondly the title, which hooked me instantly.

I had no expectations of Deathless as I didn't read the blurb, but I was instantly captivated and downloaded the full book as soon as I reached the end of the sample on my kindle. Simply put I loved it, I know it will stay with me for a long time.

This book skirts the edges of fairy tales, folklore and myth for an adult audience (definitely not for children!) for all us grown ups who still have favourite stories as well as favourite books.

The central theme looks at the battle between life and death, and subsequently the inherent battle between good and evil.

Overall, a great central story underpinned by a thought provoking backdrop which has really pricked my interest in Russian folklore and legends as well as it's history.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a must read 27 July 2012
This is one of the most moving, incredible, clever, touching, dark, perfect piece of brilliance ever written, I honestly do not have enough superlatives to describe it. Valente seamlessly mixes folklore and history to create a stunning novel. Read it and you won't be disappointed.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Earlier this year, I cut my Valente-teeth novel-wise on The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making. I fell completely in love with her writing and in the months since I've listened to two of her short stories on EscapePod and PodCastle, which were every bit as good and rich as The Girl Who... was. As I'm also quite fond of fairytale retellings, Deathless seemed a story I couldn't help but love. And seeming was truth, as Deathless was a stunning tale, which will stay with me for a while.

There will be mentions of elements of the story that might be considered spoilers for those unfamiliar with the Koschei mythos, so if you do not want to be spoiled please either skip ahead to the last paragraph of this review or click away!

The story is a wonderful retelling of The Death of Koschei the Deathless set in Russia in the first half of the twentieth century. It is a gorgeous mix of myth and history, mixing in several other Russian folk tales and all the political upheaval and cultural change Russia was embroiled in during the first fifty years of the twentieth century. I loved the metaphor of the colours of the birds and the uniforms they change into when they come for Marya's sisters, each mirroring the next step in Russia's revolution, it is an elegant way of alluding to the rapid political changes without giving a history lecture, but for those familiar with it, it's perfectly clear what is happening.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Marvellous and enthralling
Bought this for my Kindle and then upgraded with the discounted audio-book which I am now about half-way through and thoroughly enjoying it. Read more
Published 2 days ago by T. Costick
5.0 out of 5 stars Deathless
What a dark and beautiful story! Absolutely swept away by such wild imagination about life and death, love and despair, how we view life as children and how we eventually see our... Read more
Published 27 days ago by Dee xx
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best books I've read in ages
One of the best books I've read in ages. Illustrates the hardships of life in Russia in the first half of the 20th century interspersed with beautiful modern fairytale imagery
Published 27 days ago by MSLAWRENC
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Bought as a gift and was well received
Published 9 months ago by Mieke
3.0 out of 5 stars Russian folk tale
It's a complete mystery to me why Amazon suggested this book to me in the first place, as it's nothing like anything I've read previously - and actually I wonder why I bought it, I... Read more
Published 10 months ago by Keith Trangmar
5.0 out of 5 stars Memorable
A fantastic novel, full of twists and turns. I love how the author weaves in so much Russian folklore - legends I'd not heard of before. An epic love story.
Published 10 months ago by Charlotte Davis
5.0 out of 5 stars Loved it
I really enjoyed this book. I found the subject very, very interesting and the way it was written kept me gripped. Read more
Published 10 months ago by M Jones
4.0 out of 5 stars Quirky story that loses its way slightly
I loved this strange book which transports you to an otherworld where fairytales and fantasy co-exist with Russian history. Read more
Published 12 months ago by Anna Wilde
4.0 out of 5 stars Dark and Beautiful
Deathless deftly combines the richness of Russian mythology with the growing horror of life in the Soviet era. Read more
Published 12 months ago by C. Miller
5.0 out of 5 stars A really original voice
The story uses Russian fairy tales as a launch point, but in saying that there is nothing cosy here. Read more
Published 13 months ago by Alison Young
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