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All the Windwracked Stars (Sci Fi Essential Books) Hardcover – October 28, 2008


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Product Details

  • Series: Sci Fi Essential Books (Book 1)
  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Tor Books (October 28, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0765318822
  • ISBN-13: 978-0765318824
  • Product Dimensions: 8.6 x 6 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,086,851 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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

More About the Author

I tell stories. I prefer the mountains to the desert, and rain to sun. My eyes are blue. I like flying on airplanes, but they keep making the seats smaller.

Customer Reviews

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See all 17 customer reviews
Muire is a waelcyrge, a valkyrie in the Norse sort of world of the book.
Eleanor Skinner
Fortunately, during that time, the author introduces a number of very interesting characters and situations that really blossom as the story picks up speed.
Kurt A. Johnson
Others who gave this book a poor review have said it, and I agree with them: I kept feeling like maybe I had missed a book or something.
xenofan

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 5 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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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Kurt A. Johnson TOP 1000 REVIEWER on January 4, 2014
Format: Hardcover
Poor Muire is the last of the waelcyrge (servants of Woden in Anglo-Saxon mythology), who saved her life at the end of Midgard by running away. Through the millennia, she has had to live with her failure, as she awaits the end of the other world, Valdygard. But, as things seem to wind down, surprises begin to appear. The Wolf has returned and is on the hunt, and it now appears that many, if not all, of the waelcyrge are being reincarnated. Something very strange is going on, and Muire must rise above her self-pity and self-doubt if she is to get to the bottom of things.

I must say that I found this to be an interesting book. After the initial Ragnarok, the story slows down considerably, and just kind of crawls along. Fortunately, during that time, the author introduces a number of very interesting characters and situations that really blossom as the story picks up speed. I didn’t care much for Muire herself, but I did like just about everyone else in the story – Cathoair the super-soldier/prostitute, Selene the cat woman, Cristokos the rat mage, Thjierry the Technomancer, and others.

So, I did find this to be a pretty good book, slow at times, but nonetheless pretty good. Overall, I give it a somewhat guarded recommendation.
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1 of 1 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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