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The Sunless Countries: Book Four of Virga [Kindle Edition]

Karl Schroeder
3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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Book Description

In an ocean of weightless air where sunlight has never been seen, only the running lights of the city of Sere glitter in the dark. One woman, Leal Hieronyma Maspeth, history tutor and dreamer, lives and dreams of love among the gaslit streets and cafés. And somewhere in the abyss of wind and twisted cloud through which Sere eternally falls, a great voice has begun speaking.


As its cold words reach even to the city walls--and as outlying towns and travelers' ships start to mysteriously disappear--only Leal has the courage to try to understand the message thundering from the distance. Even the city's most famous and exotic visitor, the sun lighter and hero named Hayden Griffin, refuses to turn aside from his commission to build a new sun for a foreign nation. He will not become the hero that Leal knows the city needs; so in the end, it is up to her to listen, and ultimately reply, to the worldwasp.



Product Description

Review

Praise for the Virga series

""Ashes of Candesce" brings the Virga saga to an operatic, crashing finale; a splendid climax to the hard SF saga of the decade!" "--"Charles Stross on "Ashes of Candesce"

"Inventive and solidly enjoyable... Schroeder paints his unique world with deft touches while keeping the story moving briskly." "--Publishers Weekly, "on" The Sunless Countries

""A delight, a source of seemingly endless invention...." "--Locus "on "Pirate Sun

""With "Queen of Candesce", Karl Schroeder's Virga saga establishes itself as an SF saga of the same order as LeGuin's Earthsea series, Asimov's Robot stories, and Niven's Ringworld stories."
"--"SFRevu.com

"A fantastically alchemical tale set in a strange yet utterly real world. Hayden is a complex and well-developed protagonist and Schroeder is a amazingly detailed writer whose world-building is superb." "--""RT Reviews "on "Sun of Suns"

"I loved it. It never slowed down. The background is fascinating and the characters held my attention. It reminded me a little of "The Integral Trees", with technology a little more advanced."
"--"Larry Niven on "Sun of Suns"

About the Author

KARL SCHROEDER lives in Toronto, Ontario.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 552 KB
  • Print Length: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Tor Books (4 Aug. 2009)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B002LA0A2A
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #787,691 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
The world-building continues wonderful; the barrelless zero-gravity vineyard is distinctly memorable, the cold ambience of the Sunless Zones pretty good. The political message about the rise of the Know-Nothings is laid on with a trowel, and the hints about the structure of Virga manage to be as confusing to the reader as they are to the characters; the scope widens a little, but it's still dragging somewhat as the fourth section of a single very, very long novel.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.5 out of 5 stars  8 reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The world of Virga continues to amaze. 29 Nov. 2009
By N. Bird - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Contrary to my expectation that closer inspection would reveal the flaws, the more we see of Virga the more sensible and logical it is. This book talks about some of the biological industry, history and construction of Virga, and hints on the larger ecosystem of which Virga is but a pocket.

This book starts a new story arc with Hayden the Sunlighter now playing second fiddle to a historian thrown into the fray because no one else will do it. I think Schroeder's plot construction is getting stronger; the book was well paced with some twists, but nothing just crazy out of the blue.

While not the pinnacle of science fiction (hence only giving it 4 stars) I thought it was a thoroughly enjoyable read and meat for thought.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Karl always delivers 21 Oct. 2009
By Denny Dukes - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Once again, Karl gives us another great book. This series is very enjoyable, and every entry is excellent. Each book in the Virga series has a different main character, which is an interesting approach. This time it's Leal, an excellent, likable heroine. I really like the way Karl writes females; it really feels like a woman's voice and point of view, very believable. It breaks my heart to have to wait for the next book. But it'll be well worth the wait, as always.
6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Solid; 3.5 Stars 15 Aug. 2009
By R. Albin - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
The Sunless Countries is the beginning of what is probably a second trilogy involving Virga, a very well imagined space habitat. Inspired by books like Larry Niven's Ringworld and Bob Shaw's Orbitsville, the basic idea is an exotic extrasolar space habitat, in this case a 5000 mile diameter sac containing a breathable atmosphere and a central fusion "sun." As is typical for this genre, the novels are adventure stories showcasing the exotic features of the habitats and their inhabitant societies. Schroeder is a competent writer and his habitat is a clever construction. In this series, Schroeder is expanding the setting by introducing more characters from outside Virga and also moving outside Virga for some of the action. Compared with prior books, I found this one a bit slow to start and character development is not as good as some prior books. We'll see what the next books bring.
5.0 out of 5 stars Still on an upward trajectory 29 April 2011
By Edward Barnett - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I'm generally not a fan of sequels or series. It seems that they often start with a novel idea, but then lose their spark, or worse (like a TV series that has run too long), they "jump the shark." There are rare exceptions, where an author keeps inventing individual stories that are worth telling while also advancing our understanding of the universe he or she has created -- Asimov's Foundation series comes to mind.

I thoroughly enjoyed the first book in this series (Sun of Suns). It was a great swashbuckling adventure set in a world that was both familiar and bizarre, with hints that there was something bigger to the story. In the second book, the bigger picture faded almost completely, and we were given a distinctly different tale of an Odysseus-like character who found herself stranded in a strange world and had to use her wits and guile to return home. The third book took another character from the first novel and moved him into the role of protagonist, providing a third perspective on the world of Virga, with the "bigger picture" issues moving back onto the main stage.

The fourth book, The Sunless Countries, introduces a new character and protagonist, but with plenty of links to the earlier books (especially Books One and Three) to provide continuity. This latest book puts the big-picture context question (what is Virga, and why is it so special) front and center. The final pages, while not a cliffhanger, clearly are designed as the first steps down the next path this series of books will take.

As with the earlier books, this book is, if I had to pick a single word, intriguing. In the best tradition of science fiction, it made me want to know more about this strange world, to understand how it works and what mysteries it holds. The world Schroeder has created is fascinatingly simple at the conceptual level. The magic is in the texture, where the author does a great job of illustrating how the rules of the different environment change all of the details of every day life.

The book isn't all about the world, though. I also thoroughly enjoyed the lead character. As was true with the earlier books, the protagonist is richly human and fundamentally likable. In all four books, the protagonist is someone I would genuinely like to meet and spend time with in person -- they're interesting people. The fact that each book has pulled a different protagonist to the fore is part of what has kept the series fresh and interesting.

The author has done a great job of creating an intriguing, richly textured, consistent world, which in itself is an accomplishment. He has then populated it with grand adventures and engaging characters. It's an impressive body of work and thoroughly enjoyable read. I look forward to seeing where he goes next with this idea.
4.0 out of 5 stars Adds depth to the Virga series 17 May 2013
By Tom Braun - Published on Amazon.com
The first time I read this book I really didn't enjoy it as much as the previous books in the Virga series such as Sun of Suns: Book One of Virga. Its heroine seemed weaker and the story was less about crazy physics and world-building and more about a society teetering on the verge of authoritarianism. And then the ending got kind of weird.

This time around, however I appreciated that Leal Maspeth, the heroine, is actually a much subtler and more interesting character than the swashbuckling heroes of the previous books such as Hayden the Sunlighter. In fact the author spends a lot of time explicitly contrasting her maturity and introspection to Hayden's brash heroism.

And the idea of people shutting out the things that they don't want to believe in resonates with the larger themes of the book. The fact that this book even HAS a theme sets it apart from the previous books, which were more about swashbuckling, steampunk, gravity-defying adventure. And that's all well and good. But in The Sunless Countries Schroeder is taking the series in a more mature direction. I think that threw me the first time I read it. But the second time, I appreciate it. For all its brilliant world-building, Sun of Suns was pretty shallow.

The end of this book clearly sets up for Book V, Ashes of Candesce: Book Five of Virga, which I will read next. The reader and our heroes find themselves beyond the walls of their world of Virga, facing utterly alien worlds and enemies. That's a little bittersweet, because Karl Schroeder has spent so much time building up his intricate, plausible steampunk world that I hate to leave it, and I suspect it's going to be turned upside down and changed forever in the next book anyway. But Schroeder is a brilliant sci-fi author who is able to dream up fantastic ideas and then explore them to their logical limits. He is, in short, a sci-fi genius. So I am looking forward to what comes next.
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