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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*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