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Whiskey and Water: A Novel of the Promethean Age [Paperback]

Elizabeth Bear
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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Paperback, 3 July 2007 --  

Product details

  • Paperback: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Roc (3 July 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0451461495
  • ISBN-13: 978-0451461490
  • Product Dimensions: 22.9 x 15.4 x 2.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,781,382 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful prose in esoteric tale 31 Jan 2009
By Mark Shackelford TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Format:Mass Market Paperback|Verified Purchase
The second book in this ongoing series is a modern day fairy tale but (somehow) based in reality.
We have real New York infested with Fairies (and some pretty unpleasant monsters) and various Human, non-Human, part-Human characters (including a number of devils and the Arch-Angel Michael [who appears as a woman] [obviously]), and an ongoing battle between the two (or three) worlds - Hell appears to be yet another part of these parallel universes.
Elizabeth Bear's prose is utterly beautiful, and although I occasionally (and literally) lose the plot, the story seems to gel.

A human who was used to attack the Fey realm was conned into sacrificing his brother [this from the previous book] is now trying to get his life back - after being run through the chest by a unicorn, who also happens to be the most gorgeous woman (try and keep up at the back there), and is assisted by Kit Marlowe (yes, THE Christopher Marlowe of Shakespearean times) who has been the "guest" of Lucifer (who seems a nice chap). Other helpful characters include Merlin the Magician (another woman - yes, a pattern is appearing) and Morgan Le Fey (still a woman).

I loved the first book in this series (Blood and Iron) and this second one is just as wonderful. Real Magic oozes from the pages, there are delightful surprises at every corner - and somehow everything seems to make sense.

Buy this, suspend your disbelief in the Faerie realm - and enjoy!
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.2 out of 5 stars  9 reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Duels and Wars and Intrigues and Betrayals... 25 July 2007
By April - Published on
This sequel follows the former Promethean Mage, Matthew, scarred and adrift after the events of the first book. It's seven years later and Faerie is being framed by someone for the murder of humans--in an attempt to start up a war--or two. Part of the complex intrigue involves Heaven and Hell--represented by the tough female angel Michael and the melancholy Morningstar, who is one of many literary devils who reign in Hell. Other players are Kit Marlowe (the poet/playwright pal of Shakespeare), and various seelie and unseelie fae, humans, with a sprinkling of werewolves and devils.

The narrative jumps about amongst the huge cast of characters a bit too much for me. I was less able to become involved in any one thread or character. Plus the fact that most characters are totally playing the game and emotions seem muted in them all, despite some horrific events. And they seemed to change allegiances and plots right and left. At any rate, I enjoyed this book less than the last.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Second Title in the Promethean Age series shows Bear's improving writing skills 3 July 2008
By Jvstin - Published on
Whiskey and Water is the second book in Elizabeth Bear's Promethean Age novels about a resurgence of Faerie and their conflicts with Mages in modern day NYC.

I loved Blood and Iron, the first book in this series, which was set around a fateful Halloween Night when the power of Faerie was unleashed in a visible and risble way, as conflicts between Faerie and the Promethean Mages, as well as riven divisions within Faerie led to the inescapable revelation to the modern world that Faerie was real, after all.

Of course this conflict has been at great cost for all of its participants, even the winners, and it is seven years later that we take up their stories again. Matthew Szczegielniak still teaches classes and has turned his back on his power. Jane Andraste, Maga, is about the only other Mage in NY of note that's left. Her half-fae daughter Elaine sits on the painful throne of the Seelie. Whiskey, the water elemental who holds Elaine's soul is still abroad...

And a series of murders by a Fae introduce us to new characters. Don, the cop who finds a connection with these sorcerous characters. Jewels and Geoff, young kids who quickly get in over their head.

Oh, and Kitten, aka Kit, aka Christopher Marlowe, ready to be released from Hell and walk abroad in Faerie and the world. Oh, and of course, the Devil. More than one, in fact.

And so with the players named, the tale is told and told well. The consequences of conflicts from the first book play out, and in addition to Faerie and the mundane world, Bear introduces us to a third realm in this book--Hell.

The book shouldn't be read by anyone who hasn't read B&I (and why haven't you read that,hmmm?). If anything, the writing of W&W is better, a more mature Bear's pen's words here flow like wine. Marlowe is one of Bear's favorite historical characters, and to see him brought to life in the modern world is a delight, but not the only one to be found in these pages.

After all, having been born and raised there, I was tickled pink that part of the climax, a wizard's duel, takes place on Staten Island.

I enjoyed Whiskey and Water highly. The 3rd novel in the Promethean Age, Ink and Steel, takes place 400 years earlier, during the rule of Elizabeth I. Will I read it? I already bought it, you betcha.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Overreaches a bit, but otherwise very good. 8 Dec 2008
By Robert Beveridge - Published on
Elizabeth Bear, Whiskey and Water (Roc, 2007)

The war between Faerie and the Prometheans ended in an uneasy truce when Matthew Szczegielniak, the man with the most unpronounceably heroic name in all of fantasy literature (yes, that does include Moorcock's improbably-named characters), turned coat and destroyed the Prometheans' world-breaching bridge. That was seven years ago. (If you missed it, you can read about it in Blood and Iron, the first tale in this duology, which is in itself, the first half of a two-part series on the Prometheans, with the second half comprised of Ink and Steel and Hell and Earth.) Needless to say, the powers that be, the powers that aren't but want to be, and a handful of the powers who were and are no more have all been working behind the scenes during this peace, and everything's about to come to a crux at the beginning of Whiskey and Water.

The novel opens with Matthew, protector of New York in name only these days, finding himself at the scene of a murder that has the air of faerie about it. Jane Andraste, Matthew's old boss, has been trying to rebuild her power base since the war, and sees the murder as an opportunity to declare open war on faerie again. But Faerie and the Prometheans have never been the only pieces on the board, and that is even more true here. Matthew is a rogue faction himself, with allies everywhere but not enough power to form them into a solid alliance. Faerie itself is only loosely held together, with the Cat Anna, the Unseelie queen, plotting to overtake the Faerie throne just as Harry, daughter of the current queen, does the same. And Lucifer, the ruler of Hell, switches alliances as often as humans change their underwear.

Whiskey and Water features an even more labyrinthine plot than Blood and Iron did, and thus can be a lot more confusing if you're not paying close enough attention. It also means that the book has more opportunities to get tangled up in itself, and this does occur on occasion; there are places you're simply bound to have to go back and re-read a couple of pages, because there's more going on here than there is in any decent history of, say, the Watergate scandal (and the really good books about Watergate are tricked out with lists of dramatis personae, time lines, summaries, and that sort of thing, while here you're on your own). Because of this, the book does tend to bog down, even in places where the pace should be lightning-fast, but that's a minor quibble most of the time; this is a wonderfully ambitious novel, and on the whole, it succeeds. Recommended. ***
3.0 out of 5 stars Strictly Average Fantasy 14 Dec 2012
By Neodoering - Published on
Elizabeth Bear can write, there's no doubt about that, but this strictly average novel does not become greater than the sum of its many and sometimes confusing parts. There is a large cast of characters in this book, with all sorts of tangled relationships to each other, and at times I have to admit I couldn't remember who was who's lover or who was on who's bad side; it doesn't help that the characters wheel and deal and change sides often. By the end of the book I had managed to follow most of the plot threads pretty well, but some of the minor ones fell by the wayside for me.

Of all the book's many characters, Lucifer is probably the most interesting, but he becomes predictable after a surprisingly short time. I felt like this book was a paint-by-numbers fantasy, where most characters did the expected things at the expected times, the good guys took losses but won through in the end, and all the plot threads tied up neatly at the conclusion. It's a satisfying book but not a great book, and that's too bad because I absolutely love Elizabeth Bear's short works (such as the Cthulhu story "Boojum") and was hoping to find the same high imagination at work there. Whiskey and Water is a competent book, definitely, it just doesn't rise above.
5.0 out of 5 stars Complex and Entertaining 22 Sep 2009
By Mary Roman Gunther - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Once again we enter a world that combines classical Faerie, modern magic, Arthurian Legend and Historical Fiction! This book is not for those without a good literature background. Ms. Bear combines all these elements in an intriguing new way while stayong true to archetypes and classic myth.
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