Marissa Lingen (mrissa) wrote,
Marissa Lingen
mrissa

Elizabeth Bear's All the Windwracked Stars

Disclosure: I received this as a review copy from Tor, and matociquala is a friend of mine.

Anybody who has been reading this lj for more than, like, five minutes knows that I am picky about my Norse. Really picky. Annoyingly picky.

With All the Windwracked Stars, matociquala did an end-run around half of the picky, but she did it the hard way. Here is what is easy to get right about a mythology: who has what names. What external attributes, roughly, they have. Here is what is hard to get right about a mythology: what effects it has on the people who live under it. What it means to hold it as a belief system, and sometimes a belief system with substantial life evidence supporting it.

matociquala left out the names and attributes, for the most part. This was not a book that featured lots of gods or references to gods; nobody was running around talking about Braggi's white hair and Thor's goats. She skipped the easy part and went right on to hard, because this is not set on Earth, and it's after Ragnarok, and things go on. But they go on in an extremely Norse way. This book doesn't need to run around making people swear by Freyja's cats, because it's Norse in its bones, and you don't need to put on a display for that. Shouldn't, really.

And, backing up a bit, that is what I can say about this book without getting spoilery: it is about how things go on. How your world ends personally, or your world ends socially, nationally, internationally--the world ends really, as a world--and you still have to find a way to go on. And sometimes none of the options are good and there's no way to get to good from where you are, but there's still a way to get to better, and that's worth doing.

Also matociquala knows where to place a holmgang, structurally speaking, which is satisfying to me in a way that other things are not.

This is my favorite Bear book in awhile, possibly ever. It comes out next week, and if you live in the US or care what happens to our politics here, you will probably have something to celebrate or something to cheer yourself up for next week, right? Maybe some of both, depending on how many important elections are taking place in your precinct. Possibly it is my grim Norse-tinged sense of the world that makes this book seem extremely appropriate for that, but you could at least give it a try and find out.
Tags: bookses precious, dead vikings are lots of fun
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