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All the Windwracked Stars (The Edda of Burdens) Hardcover – October 28, 2008


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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Hugo winner Bear (Undertow) perfectly captures the essence of faded hopes and exhausted melancholy in this postapocalyptic melodrama based loosely upon Norse mythology. On the Last Day, the historian Muire fled the battle, leaving her sibling Valkyries to die. More than 2,300 years later, only a single city, Eiledon, has survived as the dying world slowly turns into ice. Ashamed of her cowardice, Muire now vows to keep the last humans safe, but as she slowly pieces together the horrific truth behind the magic that has kept Eiledon standing, she must decide whether it's worth the price. Readers will be captivated by Bear's incredibly complex, broken characters; multilayered themes of redemption; and haunting, world-breaking decisions. While stilted prose slows the beginning of the tale, its finale is both rewarding and compelling. (Nov.)
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From Booklist

*Starred Review* Bear creates a world with an astonishing depth of mythology in a tale that begins with Ragnarok. Though Muire was the least of her sisters, she is the only one who survived the battle between the Light and the Tarnished. One of the sisters’ steeds also survived, in part because of the last miracle of the Light. Two thousand years later, it is nearly the end of the world again. This time, Muire stands to fight to the end. In the last city remaining on a dying planet, her enemies are old friends, one of whom was there the last time the world ended. The Technomancer, ruler of Eiledon, has gotten her power from a most unfortunate source, and the swords of Muire’s lost siblings are reappearing, as are their spirits. In an epic battle for the survival of life, Muire must overcome her conviction that she is the least of the Valkyries and transform into someone who can take on ancient powers. Bear’s world building echoes the best of Zelazny and pulls the reader into the story and the history until it’s over. Muire is, despite a certain difficulty in the beginning, one of Bear’s more interesting and likable characters, and the mythology Bear deploys promises further satisfying stories based in it. --Regina Schroeder
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Product Details

  • Series: The Edda of Burdens (Book 1)
  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Tor Books (October 28, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0765318822
  • ISBN-13: 978-0765318824
  • Product Dimensions: 5.9 x 1.2 x 8.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,400,934 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Greg on March 9, 2010
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
When the battle (Ragnarok) is over, only three immortals are left alive: Muire, the smallest waelcyrge, the valraven, Kasmir, a two-headed, winged war-mount, and the one whose betrayal damned them all. Together they live through the coming ages to play their roles in the very last days of the world.

I needed something really different to read and All the Windwracked Stars was just what the doctor ordered and more. Elizabeth Bear combines Norse mythology and apocalyptic science fiction to create a dark dreamscape, and also invents a very intriguing concept: angels whose god is either dead or has gone missing.

The desperately savage combat at the beginning of All the Windwracked Stars drew me right in and I soon found myself liking characters that I normally would not. The prose is somewhat surreal, and this story has a rather strange flow which, at times, made it a little difficult for me to follow. Usually I'd find that a little irritating, but for the EDDA OF BURDENS series, this wistful style works perfectly because the characters themselves are lost souls struggling to understand their own destinies.

I was once a big fan of Apocalyptic Sci-fi, so it was a refreshing thrill to lose myself in Elizabeth Bear's dying world. The outcome of doomsday comes down to a handful of unique misfits in a truly original story. I especially liked the conclusion and I was so gloomily fascinated that I immediately downloaded the Kindle version of the next book, By the Mountain Bound.

I almost never jump into the next book in a series without a break between, but By the Mountain Bound is the story leading up to the battle of Ragnarok -- the beginning of All the Windwracked Stars -- and I just had to know the answers to some of the wonderfully tantalizing mysteries left unexplained in this book
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Eleanor Skinner on October 30, 2008
Format: Hardcover
This is set in the same world of her stories 'Ice' & 'The Devil You Don't' from her collection The Chains That You Refuse. In fact, 'Ice' seems to be an excerpt or something that expanded into the novel, & from side references in Windwracked Stars it looks like 'The Devil You Don't' actually happened too. But you don't need to have read either story to read the novel.

Muire is a waelcyrge, a valkyrie in the Norse sort of world of the book. Ragnarok happened. Unfortunately, she ran away. She comes back after the battle to find everything she has ever known dead, except for an almost-dead valraven (two-headed intelligent pegasus) and the empty place where the body of Mingan the Wolf (sort of Loki & Fenris combined) had lain. The valraven convinces Muire to make a stab at living, at least as an emotional cripple, & in turn is reborn when Muire asks for a miracle.

Fast forward a few thousand years to a post-apocalyptic wasteland, the last city alive on Valdygard (the earth/planet). It's protected from the wastes outside by the Technomancer, & Muire is living a quiet life when she suddenly meets both the reincarnation of Strifbjorn, the einherjar (angel/Norse god) she had loved from afar, & the still-dangerous old incarnation of Mingan, who vampyrically kills a man before disappearing. Muire has to deal with a shock to her emotional stability & the threat of her old enemy's reappearance.

Elizabeth Bear seems to like Norse mythology, as it was also the background for A Companion to Wolves, co-written with Sarah Monette.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By lb136 VINE VOICE on February 20, 2010
Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
A breathtaking prose-poem of the far future by the can-do-anything author Elizabeth Bear references without necessarily paying gushing hommage to, Cordwainer Smith's tales of the Underpeople (here there's a cat-woman named Selene, not C'Mell). And there are also some Jack Vanceian elements (cf the opening paragraphs of chapter 17 at page 238)--as well as the magic-tech and techological magic of Joan D. Vinge's "Snow Queen" trilogy.

Anyway, it's based on old Norse myth, and features the tale of the semi-immortal waelcyrge (valkrie)-historian Muire, her companion the valraven Kasimir (a two-headed winged horse), and Cathoair (a male prostitute and beerhall prizefighter) and the villianous(?) Grey Wolf, who wants to destroy what's left of the dying earth in order to reboot it. It's played out at the end of time in which only one city is left standing--and that due to the efforts of the Technomancer.

Ms. Bear mixes the mythic and the mechancial with incredible skill. (At one point Muire gets a smart phone message that one her companions is in trouble and dashes off to the rescue wielding a sword. And in context, it makes sense!) The tale is so clever that one weak section, in which (oh no!) a character who has fled to safely just HAS to leave that safety to attend to business, just might have been tossed in there deliberately as a riff.

I'm not sure.

Whatever, the writing is breathtaking. Don't speedread, please.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By A_Power on April 4, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
"All the Windwracked Stars" starts after the end of the world with a cowardly angel and a wounded steed. It turns out it takes a long time for worlds to die, and the rest of the story takes place several thousand years later when only one (human) city is left, sustained by the power of a Technomancer who combines science and magic to keep it alive.

A lot of readers say this book is hard to get into it, but for me, this is one of the few books I connected with quickly in a while. From the very beginning, I connected with the main character Muire. She's made a big mistake and her guilt is overwhelming but she finds the will to fight through all the ages to come. She is quite a tortured character - which can at times verge on the annoying - but she does grow through the novel.

The story does rely heavily on Norse mythology, which can make some of the names and terms difficult to keep track of. My knowledge of Norse mythology is sufficient to follow Avengers, but I wasn't able to appreciate the deeper analogies of this novel. Nevertheless, I found it accessible and it also draws on quite a few themes from the science fiction genre as a whole - despite having lots of fantasy elements as well. For instance, the Technomancer's animal-human servants are called moreau - recalling the Island of Dr Moreau and his experiments to create men from animals. It also draws on the rich literature on scientists and the ethics of playing god. So, even if you don't appreciate the Norse aspects, the novel is still multi-layered.

The characters do have a fairly fluid sexuality, which may trouble more sensitive readers, but it makes sense within the context of Bear's world-building.
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