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By the Mountain Bound Hardcover – 27 Oct 2009
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Praise for "All the Windwracked Stars: " "Hugo winner Bear perfectly captures the essence of faded hopes and exhausted melancholy in this postapocalyptic melodrama based loosely upon Norse mythology. Readers will be captivated by Bear's incredibly complex, broken characters; multilayered themes of redemption; and haunting, world-breaking decisions. Its finale is both rewarding and compelling."--"Publishers Weekly "(starred review) "Bear creates a world with an astonishing depth of mythology.... Bear's world building echoes the best of Zelazny and pulls the reader into the story and the history until it's over."--"Booklist" (starred review)"You should read this book; you should read it because the entire thing - from beginning to end - pushes sense-of-wonder buttons so hard you almost want to hit the pause button, forget about the plot, and""look."" Bear holds nothing back, and everything that she pulls into her story just gleams with that special wonder of discovery. I could not put this down."--"The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction"
About the Author
ELIZABETH BEAR was born on the same day as Frodo and Bilbo Baggins, but in a different year. She is the award-winning author of ten previous novels, and received the 2008 Hugo Award for Best Short Story. Bear lives in Hartford, CT, with a presumptuous cat.
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SO... perhaps you should read this first - and will then really "get" the first book? No, perhaps not.
Anyway - for all you fans (hope we are plural) of the amazingly literate Elizabeth Bear - read this and be delighted!
This is not straight-forward fantasy. It is (sort of) the retelling of the legend of the Valkyrie and the lead up the apocalypse of Ragnarok. A tale of heroes, and heroic deeds, of mystic ladies (who are not who or what they seem) and the ultimate tragedy of their society (and perhaps all societies) - the total and utter destruction of their world - by their own hands...
Hmmm. Just terrific - with Ms. Bear's usual astonishing lyrical writing. Bring on the next one...
Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
This series, the EDDA OF BURDENS, seems to have gotten somewhat mixed reviews. Some readers don't like the order of the books. By the Mountain Bound is the second book, which is the story that leads up to the last battle at the beginning of the first book, All the Windwracked Stars. Personally, I love it and wouldn't change a thing.
I do have to admit that I had a hard time getting through one of the early chapters (I started to wonder if the title should be By the "Broke-back" Mountain Bound and yeah, I admit, the "rated R" sexual content wouldn't have bothered me as much if it was heterosexual -- Sorry, I'm old and don't know better.) But once past those few pages, I realized this was an important element in the story, and I still grew to like both characters very much.
In fact, even though Elizabeth Bear has created a very original and engrossing plot, it's the terrific characters that make this story work.
Anyone who read the first book or has a vague knowledge of Norse mythology already has a good idea of how this ends. Knowing the conclusion does not lessen its impact -- and there are still a few surprises.
I've always had a place in my heart for the "few stood against many/ no hope of winning" stories, but to make that that theme to work, the reader really has to be able to empathize with the characters. I found that my admiration for the courage of Einherjar, the Waelcyrge, and the Valraven -- the Waelcyrges' war-mounts -- was equaled by my regret for those that dishonored themselves to become "tarnished." Even when one of my favorite characters commits a horrific act, my remorse for him outweighed the outrage that demanded justice.
The Plot: Einherjar and waelcyrge (angels and valkyrie) are Children of the Light, charged with protecting humans under the guidance of the Light. The 3 main characters (in this book as well as the trilogy) are Stifbjorn - the leader, Mingan - the Wolf, older and more powerful than the rest, survivor of the previous world's end, given new shape in this one, and Muire - smaller of the valkyrie, historian and poet rather than warrior, hopelessly in love with Stifbjorn, who shares a secret and forbidden relationship with Mingan the Wolf.
Everything is upended when a mysterious stranger, Heythe, appears, claiming to be their foretold Lady and challenging Stibjorn for leadership. Yet there are hints of darkness about her, and she may destroy the Children instead of saving them.
The writing is achingly beautiful, and the focus is on the characters' emotional journey (angst! love, betrayal, loyalty, sacrifice). I absolutely loved it. I liked all the characters, and Mingan's POV was particularly compelling. There's pieces of Norse mythology woven through. This is a book to read and re-read.