Author: Elizabeth Bear
Series: The Edda of Burdens, book 1
Genre: Postapocalyptic fantasy.
Setting: Eiledon, the last city of a dying world, in an age of technomancers.
Reason for Reading: I heard it was loosely based on a Norse edda, and that was very intriguing to me.
Finished In: Hours. I checked it out yesterday afternoon and finished it this morning.
Copyright Date: 2008
Cover: A woman dressed as a Valkyrie (waelcyrge, in this book) stands with a two-headed winged antelope-looking thing (valraven, in this book). A desolate cityscape is behind them.
First line: "There was snow at the end of the world, and Kasimir was dying in it."
Best part: The worldbuilding was just as good as in Bear's other books, with the action being much more fast-paced.
Worst part: The ending was a little confusing.
Imaginary Theme Song: Heiemo og Nykkjen
Grade: A. It's been a long time since I saw someone write about myth and science tangled together in such a compelling way.
Recommended for: I think any fans of Norse mythology should give it a try.
Related Reads: Companion to Wolves, which Bear cowrote with Sarah Monette. Brisingr by Diana Paxson. Chimera by Will Shetterly (which does not have a Norse theme but does have a lot of genetically engineered and mutated people in an underclass, as this book has).
"Maybe it wasn't a very good plan, but it was the only one Muire had. Considering her resources -- two magical swords that weren't much use for anything practical except cutting through anything in their path; a spell-castin, mechanically inclined rodent; a catgirl with a whip; a retired cyborg tavernkeeper; an animate steam engine; and a deeply depressed nineteen-year-old -- she though she had done as well as could be expected." (p 334)
Muire is the last of the waelcyrge, warriors of the Light. She run when she should have fought.
Kasimir is the last of the valravens, winged steeds of the waelcyrge. He lived when he should have died.
Mingan is the Gray Wolf, devourer, betrayer. He has never done what he should - but now that an old love has come again in a new form, his desires may set in motion a chain of events that no one could have predicted.
I really enjoyed this book. I almost didn't give Bear another chance after Carnival, which I found incredibly slow despite its intriguing premise. This one is fast, funny, and unpredictable. Better yet, as a former student of Norse language and literature, it FEELS Norse. Though she doesn't seem to have based it on a particular Edda, there's definitely that sense of bleak beauty, "Come, my brothers, one last drink before we hack each other to pieces! The skalds will long sing of this day!" that I remember so well.
With that being said, I know she has a strong interest in Norse mythology (which we also saw in Companion to Wolves and that she was involved in a... debacle about race in the fandom community, and that makes me wonder a little about her overall ideas about race - my only reservation.