Friday, January 30, 2015
Like All the Windwracked Stars, I had a bit of a hard time getting into The Sea Thy Mistress. Actually, that's an understatement: I had a very hard time getting into this story. It takes place during the 50ish years right after All the Windwracked Stars: the world is renewed thanks to Muire's sacrifice. Selene and Cathoair, as angels, are trying to help the world and its people rebuild. But then 34 years later, Muire's child with Cathoair (Cathmar) washes up out of the sea. And Heythe arrives, finding the world not at all how she expected it.
From there, the book moves slowly through Cathmar's childhood and adolescence. Cathmar is a child first and an angel second, and so he needs to learn how the world works. And this was a bit of a slog to get through, especially when I found myself having to backtrack through the dates a bit to figure out how old Cathmar was at certain times.
But once he sort of grew up, it felt like the story really started. Cathmar slowly got his independence and found a girl he liked. He moved into the city with her around the time the Imogen showed up to serve his father. But Cathoair was still grieving the loss of both Astrid (whom he accidentally killed) and Muire (although she was not truly lost, just changed); the Imogen's ability to feed on your pain becomes an addiction. And when Heythe finds him and tells him she can send him back to save Astrid at the cost of four days spent with her, Cahey agrees to her torture, not realizing Heythe may be using him just to get to Muire.
The Sea Thy Mistress, when it comes down to it, is an interesting read. Unfortunately it takes a bit to get there. It doesn't help that it deal with a pretty big time span and multiple characters (on that note, I think it gets better when the characters more or less come together later in the book). All in all, I am glad I persevered through the beginning and finished it and the entire saga.
Wednesday, January 14, 2015
Unfortunately, it didn't start out that way. The first chapter of All the Windwracked Stars is almost exactly the last chapter of By the Mountain Bound (it's the epic battle between the Children of the Light and the Tarnished). Once that was finished, All the Windwracked Stars then went into a lot of worldbuilding. You see, Valdyrgard may be dying thanks to that battle, but it's taking its sweet time about doing it! Over 2000 years pass, and Muire, last of the Valkyries, is in the last remaining human city. And it's there that she finds Mingan haunting her city. For Mingan has found Cathoair, a beautiful boy with the soul of Strifbjorn.
It took until about halfway through the book before I really got hooked with this story. Eiledon (the last city) is being held together by the Technomancer Thjierry Thorvaldsdottir's power. It was at the point that you start to realize some of the bad Thjierry has done that the story gets really interesting. It seems she has been using the swords of the Children of the Light to take power from the rest of the world and funnel it into saving Eiledon - she is literally killing the rest of the world to save this one city. She's also found a way to infuse the souls of the dead Children of the Light into animal bodies, making them into slaves. And she wants Muire's help or at least cooperation to keep this system in place.
One thing I was struck by, especially during the first half of the book, was that I was glad I'd read By the Mountain Bound first. By the Mountain Bound gives you the background of a lot of characters who are generally just mentioned in All the Windwracked Stars. So if you're planning on reading this series, I recommend doing what I did and reading the first two books in reverse order.
Friday, January 9, 2015
By the Mountain Bound is the story of three people: the Warrior, the Wolf, and the Historian. All three are Children of the Light, beings who survived Ragnarok and sang the new world into being. The Warrior, Strifbjorn, is an Einherjar and leader of the Children of the Light. The Wolf is Mingan, the Fenris Wolf remade into an Einherjar. And the Historian is Muire, least of the Valkyrie.
I'm going to take a moment to say that the worldbuilding was awesome for this book. The Children of the Light can take vengeance and share souls through a kiss. So when a couple is married and they kiss, they share souls (and are sort of forged into one). I really, really liked this.
So anyway, the Children of the Light have been doing their thing for centuries, waiting for the return of their Lady. What they didn't expect was that she might tear them apart.
That's exactly what happens when Heythe appears. She is different than the Children of the Light - physically stronger than them, but weaker in other ways. She claims to be escaping an army of giants and wants the Children of Light to use their gifts to take strength from the mortals. But doing so is an abomination; it tarnishes their very souls. And so Strifbjorn and those who still follow him resolve to fight her.
In the middle of all this is the story of Strifbjorn and Mingan. The Children of the Light are few, and so it is their duty to marry in an effort to conceive children. But Strifbjorn and Mingan have already shared the kiss. Their story really made this book, particularly when Heythe enters the picture and wants Mingan for herself.
There was one particular moment in the book, involving Mingan's wolf pack, when my heart felt like it broke for him. That moment alone showed the power of Bear's writing; I hope I can one day be half as good of a writer as her.
Hilariously, By the Mountain Bound is book 2 in the Edda of Burdens series (although it is a prequel). I didn't realize it until after I finished reading it. Luckily Bear assured me on Twitter that the series is meant to be read in any order so I don't have to worry. With that in mind, I'll be starting book 1, All the Windwracked Stars, tomorrow. :)