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Saint Leibowitz and the Wild Horse Woman [Hardcover]

Walter M., Jr. Miller , Terry Bisson
3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Nov 1997
It has been nearly forty years since Walter M. Miller, Jr., shocked and dazzled readers with his provocative bestseller and enduring classic, A Canticle for Leibowitz.  Now, in one of the most eagerly awaited publishing events of our time, here is Miller's masterpiece, an epic intellectual and emotional tour de force that will stand beside 1984, Brave New World, and A Canticle for Leibowitz.

In a world struggling to transcend a terrifying legacy of darkness--a world torn between love and violence, good and evil--one man undertakes an odyssey of adventure and discovery that promises to alter not only his destiny but the destiny of humankind as well. . . .

Millennia have passed since the Flame Deluge, yet society remains fragmented, pockets of civilization besieged by barbarians.  The Church is in turmoil, the exiled papacy struggling to survive in its Rocky Mountain refuge.  To the south, tyranny is on the march.  Imperial Texark troops, bent on conquest, are headed north into the lands of the Nomads, spreading terror in their wake.

Meanwhile, isolated in Leibowitz Abbey, Brother Blacktooth St. George suffers a crisis of faith.  Torn between his vows and his Nomad upbringing, between the Holy Virgin and visions of the Wild Horse Woman of his people, he stands at the brink of disgrace and expulsion from his order.  But he is offered an escape--of sorts: a new assignment as a translator for Cardinal Brownpony, which will take him to the contentious election of a new pope and then on a pilgrimage to the city of New Rome.  Journeying across a continent divided by nature, politics, and war, Blacktooth is drawn into Brownpony's intrigues and conspiracies.  He bears witness to rebellion, assassination, and human sacrifice.  And he is introduced to the sins that monastery life has long held at bay.

This introduction comes in the form of AEdrea, a beautiful but forbidden "genny" living among the deformed and mutant castouts in Texark's most hostile terrain.  As Blacktooth encounters her again and again on his travels--in the flesh, in rumors of miraculous deeds, and in the delirium of fever--he begins to wonder if AEdrea is a she-devil, the Holy Mother, or the Wild Horse Woman herself.

Picaresque and passionate, magnificent, dark, and compellingly real, Saint Leibowitz and the Wild Horse Woman is a brutal, brilliant, thrilling tale of mystery, mysticism, and divine madness, a classic that will long endure in every reader's memory.

Product details

  • Hardcover: 434 pages
  • Publisher: Bantam Dell Pub Group (Trd) (Nov 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0553107046
  • ISBN-13: 978-0553107043
  • Product Dimensions: 22.9 x 16 x 3.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,338,868 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


Praise for CANTICLE FOR LEIBOWITZ: 'Angry, eloquent ... a terrific story.' -- NEW YORK TIMES

`It's one of those rare novels of recent years that reminds us of the potential for greatness that existed in the genre' -- S F Chronicle --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

After spending World War II in the US armed forces Walter Miller drew on his memories of the destruction of Monte Cassino when he came to write his masterpiece, A CANTICLE FOR LEIBOWITZ. He also published two collections of short fiction. He died in 1996. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Too quick to judge 22 May 1998
By A Customer
Long, complicated, misled, bloated, massive. These all describe Walter M. Miller's long-awaited sequel to the revolutionary novel "A Canticle For Leibowitz." However, it is too easy and too hasty to discredit "Saint Laibowitz and the Wild Horse Woman" simply on these merits alone. The awe that surrounds ACFL comes only in part from the story itself. Most of its sense of wonder comes from what it represented and who wrote it. Miller had converted to catholicsm a few years before the book was published. His hopes for christianity are prevalent throughout the book, particularly since only the righteous survive the second flame deluge at the end of the novel. In SLATWHM, most of his hopefulness is gone. Blacktooth, who is obviously Miller, has seen that the forces that drive his religion are no different than those that drive our tyrants and despots. Unable to reconcile religious politics with his christian spirituality, Blacktooth ultimately abandons the church. Now, it seems that (according to Miller) not only is the secular world cyclical, but the religious as well. Those who would read SLATWHM for the purpose of being merely entertained should expect to be disappointed. It is rather a study of Miller's belief system and its subsequent deconstruction. The novel took seven years to write, but I expect that the development of Blacktooth/Miller's worldview extend back much further than that. SLATWHM should be read in the same frame of mind that one should read Philip K. Dick's "Valis." The reader knows that Dick was insane when he wrote it, Dick knew he was insane when he wrote it, and the central character Horselover Fat (an extension of Dick into the novel like Blacktooth for Miller) knows that he is insane. Read more ›
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
As a sequel this book fails. Although set in the timeframe of the second novelette of the Canticle, it is a very different book from its predecessor.

Miller's idea that history is doomed to repeat itself is used here for a re-enactment of the Renaissance, complete with gunpowder, worldly Papacy and a struggle between nascent secularism and shaken faith. However, the story fails to come together as neither of the characters is significant or interesting enough to make the reader sit up and take notice.

This book reminded me of the sequels to Dune that poor Frank Herbert was forced to churn out by his publishers. The magic and urgency of the original book long gone, a meandering plot, and all too many references to the protagonists's nether parts, brought in to jazz up the story but ending up by merely making it tawdry and amateurish.

This is a pity, because Miller had so much to say. Unfortunately this is the book of his depression years, lost in the meanderings of his tormented mind. It is a disappointment, but has many gems and hilarious bits hidden in-between. Please be warned, however, that a good grip on the history of the Renaissance is a pre-requisite for reading this book...
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A church tapestry of politics and traditions 22 Dec 2003
By Stephen A. Haines HALL OF FAME
One author sets murders in a medieval Roman Catholic monastery and it becomes an object of popular acclaim. Another author sets Papal politics in a post-nuclear holocaust society and it's dubbed "Sci-fi", and tossed in the remainders bin. Neither book deserved the fate it received. Miller's second look at post-nuclear North American society reveals a church divided within and still struggling with Caesar after three millennia. Popes tend to church politics with one hand and civil society with another. Somewhere in the middle are the lesser religious tending their adherents or hiding from the conflicts.
One such "lesser religious" is a monk, Blacktooth St George. A resident at the monastery long dedicated to the memory of Isaac Leibowitz, nuclear scientist and martyr, Blacktooth harbours doubts about his calling. His roots are from the Plains people and their pagan heritage conflicts with the Roman Catholic Church's ideal of monotheism and self-sacrifice. Attempting to shed the burdensome vows, Blacktooth is conscripted to the service of a lawyer cardinal. Elia Brownpony, too, is a former Plainsman, but has risen quickly in the Church hierarchy due to diplomatic talents. Diplomacy usually involves conspiracy, and Brownpony must be adept at both for he is struggling to reunite the broken church. Theology isn't the basis of the schism, however. The expanding empire of Texark has challenged the Pope's power. Brownpony, wheeling and dealing, uses Blacktooth as a major instrument.
Politics are a lesser challenge to Blacktooth than the condition of his own spirit. Beset by visions and his glands alike, this mid-thirties adult is known as Nimmy, an appellation applied to young boys.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting but confusing. 25 July 2001
By A Customer
I wasn't aware of this book until a few weeks ago. I read 'A Canticle For Leibowitz' quite a few years ago. This continues the same themes of human existence but widens it to cover the power struggle between the Catholic church and the emerging states in the Central & Southern USA in the 33rd century, as seen from the point of view of a (reluctant) monk from the Order Of St Leibowitz. It is quite savage in parts and, like James Jones later works such as Whistle, contains a lot of sexual references that would not have been acceptable in the earlier book. I found it confusing because of the multiplicity of unusual names of individuals, tribes, quasi-nations, and other groupings. It would have been easier to follow what wwas going on if a 'who's who' had been included. Nevertheless, it was something of an hypnotic read, and worth the effort.
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