The Sea Thy Mistress – Elizabeth Bear

About the Book

This direct sequel to Elizabeth Bear’s highly acclaimed All the Windwracked Stars picks up the story some fifty years after Muire went into the sea and became the new Bearer of Burdens.

Beautiful Cathoair, now an immortal warrior angel, has been called back to the city of Eiledon to raise his son–Muire’s son as well, cast up on shore as an infant. It is seemingly a quiet life. But deadly danger approaches…the evil goddess Heythe, who engineered the death of Valdyrgard, has travelled forward in time on her rainbow steed. She came expecting to gloat over a dead world, the proof of her revenge, but instead she finds a Rekindled land, renewed by Muire’s sacrifice.

She will have her revenge by forcing this new Bearer of Burdens to violate her oaths and break her bounds and thus bring about the true and final end of Valdyrgard. She will do it by tormenting both Cathoair and his son Cathmar. But Mingan, the gray wolf, sees his old enemy Heythe’s return. He will not allow it to happen again.

Release Date: February 1, 2011
Author’s Website

Sent to me by the wonderful people at Tor
You can also read an excerpt from this book here

I finished this book about a week ago. Usually I don’t put off writing reviews this long but there are several reasons I did this time. One, I haven’t felt very good and I don’t like writing reviews when I don’t feel good. I don’t feel like I do the book or the author a favor if I write a review while feeling half dead. The other reason is because this book required some serious thought before I could figure out what to say about it, and how exactly I should go about saying those things.
I have only read one other Elizabeth Bear book, All the Windwracked Stars, which I really enjoyed. The one thing that sticks out in my mind about Bear as an author is how atmospheric and intensely emotional she can be. Her books blaze to brilliant life under her vivid prose. Her worlds are real and filled with deep, often conflicted emotions that many authors seem to shy away from focusing on. While there is action in The Sea Thy Mistress, the bulk of the activity and intensity in this work stems from the atmosphere and the intense emotions of the lead characters, Cathoair and Cathmar.
I should note Bear’s amazing characterization of the aforementioned characters. She brutally exposes past wounds and current frustrations in her characters, showing how events have culminated to create who they end up being in The Sea Thy Mistress. Bear seems to have no problems with digging deeply within characters to expose their inner turmoil and then brings that into the plot in a very important way. Her ability to almost dissect her characters is attention grabbing. Her characterization because of this is deep, multi dimensional and incredibly well rounded, as well as absolutely captivating. It is very rare that I have the joy to read a book filled with characters who are so emotionally dissected for the reader, and the book truly soars because of it. Impressively, even her secondary characters receive the same intense characterization as her main characters.
As with All the Windwracked Stars, the preceding book in this series, there is an overall sense of doom that hangs over the world Bear has created. The events in this final installment in the Edda of Burdens series takes place nearly fifty years after All the Windwracked Stars.  While there are some familiar faces, there are also enough new characters to keep things fresh and interesting. While I would characterize this book as fairly dark and fraught with damaged characters, it ends on a hopeful note nicely balancing out the work as a whole.
Bear has an incredible talent for weaving together aspects of mythology and fantasy with a dash of science fiction here and there to keep things interesting. While All the Windwracked Stars had many cyberpunk aspects to the plot, those aspects are toned down and almost nonexistent in The Sea Thy Mistress. The science fiction aspects seem to be more of a spice to add flavor rather than a central part of the world. This book seemed to be much more fantasy oriented than its predecessor, while staying true to the original theme and overarching plot.
Every book needs a conflict. While the conflict is described and explained well and the motivation behind the antagonist’s actions is understandable, it stuck out like a sore thumb. Most of The Sea Thy Mistress was incredibly multifaceted and colored by a vibrant, atmospheric world, intense emotional turmoil and brilliantly realized characters. However, the plight of Heythe was not nearly as deep, thought provoking or emotionally captivating. While her part in the book is important and interesting, it wasn’t as deep or provocative as the other storylines that filled the pages.
The Sea Thy Mistress is a fantastic conclusion to the Edda of Burdens trilogy. Bear does an amazing job with weaving together fantasy, science fiction and Norse mythology to create something uniquely her own. Her characters are multi dimensional, and almost brutally dissected for her readers. The world is vibrantly realized and the plot is compelling. If Heythe didn’t quite hit the mark for me, the rest of the book was so incredible that it was easy to overlook. While there is action in this book, it’s not cover to cover sword fighting. The action in The Sea Thy Mistress is subtle and emotional, accented by personal battles and unhealed wounds from dark pasts. I mention this because it seems to be a perfect way for me to highlight the general feel of the book overall. It’s about personal struggle, winning by losing, and redemption. It’s deep and subtle and sure to please.
Bear is an incredible author and this is a stunning conclusion to a wonderful series.
4.5/5 stars

One Responses

  • Weirdmage

    Great review!
    But you got to stop finding good books I don't own. You're going to make me bankrupt 😛

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