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The Waters Rising: A Novel Hardcover – August 31, 2010

3.4 out of 5 stars 42 customer reviews
Book 2 of 3 in the Plague of Angels Series

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The Earth of this futuristic fable is still scarred by the "Big Kill," the disastrous crescendo of our civilization that all but obliterated terrestrial life. Now a new threat has appeared in the form of rising sea levels, a process that appears unbounded by such petty concerns as a plausible source for all that water. Xulai, initially an unimportant and expendable young girl, encounters a specter from the days of Big Kill, an entity bent on preventing Xulai from realizing her potential role in the salvation of humanity. "Ecofeminist" Tepper (The Margarets) balances pointed criticisms of our era with a calamity that appears to owe far more to Genesis than to science, but the writing is slick and carefully crafted, Xulai has plenty of pluck, and her companions possess a nearly ideal mixture of virtues, flaws, and enthusiasm for redemptive sacrifice.
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From Booklist

Years after apocalyptic events killed most of the earth’s people, humankind has regained some level of society in widespread kingdoms, but both the ocean waters and the forces of evil are rising again. Abasio, an itinerant merchant and tinker, comes to the aid of Xulai, a frightened little girl assigned a terrifying errand by her dying princess-guardian, an errand that will bring the pair into opposition with the evil Alicia, Duchess of Altamont, and ultimately send them on a dangerous quest across the continent and over the seas to Xulai’s home country. There’s more than first meets the eye to Abasio, Xulai, and Alicia, and the stakes rise as their true roles in the world are slowly revealed. Tepper has developed a dependable following with works that have an epic fantasy feel but that ultimately reveal logically consistent scientific trappings. This work is no exception, a successful blend of dying-earth fantasy and wicked-witch fable. Here the transition from fantasy adventure fable to environment and genetics thought-piece is less gracefully managed, but the novel ultimately succeeds on both levels. While set in the same world as 1993’s A Plague of Angels, this title can be read alone with no difficulty. --Neil Hollands

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 512 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Voyager; First Edition edition (August 31, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9780061958878
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061958878
  • ASIN: 0061958875
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.2 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (42 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,182,370 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Claire de Trafford on October 18, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Maybe it's because I am a long time Tepper fan, and own everything she has written that I've given this a 3; I can certainly understand why other reviewers have been more generous, but to me this book is a little repetitive on themes that Tepper has already covered. I also felt a little offended that she was writing off a world that she created in the (superior) Plague of Angels using a theme she introduced in Singer from the Sea. I would recommend that readers seek these out first before reading this. I'm totally behind Tepper's themes of environmental damage, the issues with religion and a patriarchal society, but I just couldn't really warm to this book as a whole - Abasio really only as a walk on role and doesn't need to be there at all, the baddies never really threaten, and the plot wrap up just didn't quite work for me. There are good points to it - Tepper's work is always well written with interesting characters - but it felt a little like treading old ground. Read this certainly, but seek out her other books which are superior.
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Format: Hardcover
I know one star is harsh, but this book was truly awful, and I say that as a die-hard Tepper fan. This book started off promising enough, but overall reads like a very rough first draft. I'm frankly amazed that there is an editor out there that allowed this to go to print. At first I thought that the overwrought and extensive explanations of geographical minutiae might serve some later purpose, but they were really just taking up space. The book isn't sure what it really wants to be about, and veers this way and that, without any semblance of focus. Toward the end of the book, Tepper seems to suddenly remember the plot she probably had in mind the whole time, so she shabbily patches up some loose ends, slaps together some long, detailed monologues by characters to take the place of potentially interesting scenes and interaction, and calls it a book. I give this one star because I know that Tepper has the talent to make this idea into a great book, and she really dropped the ball. The writing is downright bad in some places, and there is basically no structure to the story at all. I literally forced myself to finish it, hoping that it might somehow redeem itself in the end. Don't waste your time- read one of her other fine books instead.
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Format: Hardcover
Full disclosure: I did not finish _The Waters Rising_. I spent about a month trying to read it, and found it hard to concentrate on it for more than a few pages. I gave up when I realized I was now a month behind on everything else I wanted to read, and that the bookmark I'd placed in _The Waters Rising_ never seemed to move, no matter how much time I spent with the book. I'd never read a Sheri S. Tepper novel before, though I've read the first few pages of Beauty (Spectra special editions) and am intrigued. I think I'll try to forget about _The Waters Rising_, give _Beauty_ a try, and let that be my introduction to Tepper.

The concept is an interesting one. The novel is set in the Earth of the future. We've made a mess of the planet by means of technology, and now there is a further calamity that is flooding areas that escaped the earlier disasters. The male lead, Abasio, comes upon a castle in what we know as the Pacific Northwest and meets the female lead, Xulai, a child who has been selected for a dangerous task.

Unfortunately, the book plods. Part of the problem is that much of the dialogue is stilted and infodump-heavy; it's not uncommon in _The Waters Rising_ to find characters expounding to each other about the geography of the setting. Some of the problem may relate to my own literary preferences. It's rare that I can become engrossed in a book that relies so heavily on traveling-across-the-landscape-with-enemies-in-pursuit as a structure.
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Format: Hardcover
Sheri Tepper is my favourite writer of speculative fiction. I go out of my way to look for her stuff, new and old. I've read everything she's written at least twice.

I honestly didn't think she could write a book this bad.

I like to start out reviews with a brief plot summary. This is practically impossible here, because the book contains several plot threads, all recycled from previous works, none of which is particularly coherent or well developed. The story revolves around Xulai, a "Soul Carrier" from an Island nation called Tingawa, analogous to Japan. Xulai's duty is to carry the soul of a recently deceased princess back to her native land. On her journey, she is pursued by the evil Duchess of Altamont, who inexplicably wants to wipe out all Tingawans. Along the way, Xulai begins to suspect that she is not entirely the girl she believes herself to be. All answers will be had once she reaches her destination.

One of Tepper's strengths is to take myriad characters from different geographical locations and varying cultures and viewpoints and bring them together into a (usually surprising) climax. Because of the linear nature of this story, she does not make use of this talent here. Nor does she apply her brilliant ability to create characters. Everyone in this story is one-dimensional. The evil Duchess is literally interchangeable with Quince Ellel from A Plague of Angels, only less interesting. Even the main character isn't portrayed in enough depth for the reader to care about her.

I suppose the story could have been interesting if Tepper had spent more time on it and less on pages devoted to details like geography (unnecessary, as there was a prominent map) and the workings of abbey kitchen service.
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