The Sea Thy Mistress

The Sea Thy Mistress

5.0 2
by Elizabeth Bear

View All Available Formats & Editions

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


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.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Hugo winner Bear pairs an insubstantial plot with broken, guilt-ridden characters in this quiet sequel to 2008's All the Windwracked Stars. When the angel Muire sacrificed herself to become the new Bearer of Burdens, she renewed the entire world. But some of those Muire left behind saw her ascension as less joyful: the newly immortal Cathoair, who mourned her; their son, Cathmar, who would never know her; and the goddess Heythe, who had intended the world's demise. Even as Heythe orchestrates a self-destructive spiral for the self-pitying Cathoair, Cathmar begins a convincing transformation from precocious teen to self-sufficient adult. The stakes could be much higher and the villainess more menacing, but Bear's willingness to let her characters bleed gives this post-post-apocalyptic tale its melodramatic edge. This installment will best suit devoted fans who value tormented characters and graceful prose over complex plotting. (Feb.)
From the Publisher

“A satisfying end to a most satisfying series.... Bear's use of Norse myths is outstanding and her reimagining of them is simply top-notch.” —RT Book Reviews (Top Pick!)

“Bear creates a world with an astonishing depth of mythology in a tale that begins with Ragnarok…Bear's world-building echoes the best of Zelazny and pulls the reader into the story and the history until it's over. Muire is one of Bear's more interesting and likable characters, and the mythology Bear deploys promises further satisfying stories based in it.” —Booklist (starred review) on All the Windwracked Stars

“Bear's ability to create breathtaking variations on ancient themes and make them new and brilliant is, perhaps, unparalleled in the genre. Her lyrical style and heroically flawed characters make this a priority purchase for most libraries. Highly recommended.” —Library Journal (starred review) on All the Windwracked Stars

“Numerous fantasy authors adopt the tropes of Norse mythology, but Bear actively pursues them, channeling those myths directly rather than overlaying them on more familiar ones. The result demands much from readers, but repays it in vivid, sensual imagery of a wholly different world.” —Publishers Weekly on By the Mountain Bound

Library Journal
The immortal warrior Cathoair has lost his beloved Muire to the sea. Now he returns to the city of Eiledon to raise their child, Cathmar, whose destiny is integrally tied to that of the world of Valdyrgard. When an old enemy, the goddess Heythe, returns to further her evil plans, the stage is set for a confrontation of epic proportions. The sequel to All the Windwracked Stars draws upon Norse and Celtic myths for its brooding atmosphere, while Bear's finely drawn characters exert an irresistible appeal. VERDICT Mythic storytelling and a keen eye for detail make this fantasy a strong choice for most fantasy fans.
Kirkus Reviews

Continuation of Bear's Norse apocalyptic fantasy yarn (All the Windwracked Stars, 2008, etc.), picking up the narrative half a century after the warrior-angel Muire became a goddess, walked into the sea and kick-started the devastated planet's regeneration.

Cathoair and his fellow angels, now unemployed, occupy themselves with travel and small acts of kindness and assistance that improve the welfare of all. Later, Cathoair—who also goes by Cahey—must return to the city Eiledon to raise his infant son. However, the adversary, the evil goddess Heythe, who previously attempted to destroy the world, slides forward in time to work new mischief. Cathmar, for so Cathoair/Cahey rather confusingly names his son, grows quickly and with a minimum of adolescent angst. Heythe takes the guise of a beautiful young woman, Mardoll, and insinuates herself into the consciousness of both Cathoair and the now-teenaged Cathmar. Mingan, the guardian warrior-wolf who can move imperceptibly in and out of other dimensions, notices but resolves to wait and see. But amid all this waiting and seeing, nothing much happens. Cathoair, it seems, requires psychological reconstruction and both sides vie to supply it by offering sadomasochistic sex on the one hand or soul-searching mental vampirism on the other. For uncommitted readers the process is difficult to follow and largely devoid of interest, with the biggest problem a lack of new ideas—recycled tatters of the previous book don't hack it.

Committed fans face inevitable disappointment; newcomers will find little reason to bother.

Product Details

Tom Doherty Associates
Publication date:
Edda of Burdens , #3
Sold by:
Sales rank:
File size:
352 KB

Read an Excerpt

34 A.R. (After Rekindling)
On the First Day of Spring
An old man with radiation scars surrounding the chromed half of his face limped down a salt-grass-covered dune. Metal armatures creaked under his clothing as he thumped across dry sand to wet, scuffing through the black and white line of the high-tide boundary, where the sharp albedo of cast-up teeth tangled in film-shiny ribbons of kelp. About his feet, small combers glittered in the light of a gibbous moon. Above, the sky was deepest indigo; the stars were breathtakingly bright.
The old man, whose name was Aethelred, fetched up against a large piece of sea wrack, perhaps the wooden keel of some long-ago ship, and made a little ceremony of seating himself. He relied heavily on his staff until his bad leg was settled, and then he sighed in relief and leaned back, stretching and spreading his robes around him.
He stared over the ocean in silence until the moon was halfway down the sky. Then he reached out his staff and tapped at the oscillating edge of the water as if rapping on a door.
He seemed to think about his words very hard. “What I came to say was, I was mad at you at the time, for Cahey’s sake … but I had some time to think about it after you changed, and he … changed, you know. And I’ve got to say, I think now that was a real … a real grown-up thing you did back there. A real grown-up thing.
“So. I know it isn’t what you hold with, but we’re building you a church. Not because you need it, but because other folks will.”
A breaker slightly larger than the others curled up at his feet, tapping the toes of his boots like a playful kitten.
“I know,” he said, “but somebody had to write it down. The generation after me, and the one after that … You know, Muire. It was you wrote it down the last time.”
He frowned at his hands, remembering reading her words, her own self-effacement from the history she’d created. He fell silent for a moment, alone with the waves that came and went and went and came and seemed to take no notice of him. “I guess you know about writing things down.”
He sighed, resettled himself on his improvised driftwood bench. He took a big breath of clean salt air and let it out again with a whistle.
“See, there’s kids who don’t remember how it was before, how it was when the whole world was dying. People forget so quick. But it’s not like the old knowledge is gone. The library is still there. The machines will still work. It’s all just been misplaced for a time. And I thought, folks are scattering, and the right things would get forgotten and the wrong things might get remembered, and you know how it is. So I wanted folks to know what you did. I hope you can forgive me.”
He listened, and heard no answer—or maybe he could have imagined one, but it was anyone’s guess if it was a chuckle or just the rattle of water among stones.
“So I got with this moreau—they’re not so bad, I guess: they helped keep order when things got weird after you … got translated, and if they’ve got some odd habits, well, so do I. His name is Borje; he says you kissed him in a stairwell once—you remember that?”
The waves rolled up the shore: the tide neither rose nor fell.
“Anyway, he’s not much of a conversationalist. But he cares a lot about taking care of people. After you … left … nobody really had any idea what they should be doing. With the Technomancer dead and the crops growing again, some people tried to take advantage. The moreaux handled that, but Borje and I, we thought we should write down about the Desolation, so people would remember for next time.” He shrugged. “People being what people are, it probably won’t make any difference. But there you go.”
The moon was setting over the ocean.
When Aethelred spoke again, there was a softer tone in his voice. “And we wrote about you, because we thought people should know what you gave up for them. That it might make a difference in the way they thought, if they knew somebody cared that much about them. And that’s why we’re building a church, because folks need a place to go. Even though I know you wouldn’t like it. Sorry about that part. It won’t be anything fancy, though; I promise. More like a library or something.”
He struggled to his feet, leaning heavily on the staff to do it. He stepped away, and the ocean seemed to take no notice, and then he stopped and looked back over his shoulder at the scalloped water.
A long silence followed. The waves hissed against the sand. The night was broken by a wailing cry.
The old man jerked upright. His head swiveled from side to side as he shuffled a few hurried steps. The sound came again, keen and thoughtless as the cry of a gull, and this time he managed to locate the source: a dark huddle cast up on the moonlit beach, not too far away. Something glittered in the sand beside it.
Leaning on his staff, he made haste toward it, stumping along at a good clip with his staff.
It was a tangle of seaweed. It was hard to tell in the darkness, but he thought the tangle was moving slightly.
He could move fast enough, despite the limp, but when he bent down he was painfully stiff, leveraging himself with his staff. The weight of his reconstructed body made him ponderous, and were he careless his touch could be anything but delicate. Ever-so-cautiously, he dug through the bundle with his other hand. His fingers fastened on something damp and cool and resilient.
It kicked.
Faster now, he shoved the seaweed aside. A moment, and he had it: wet skin, flailing limbs, lips stretched open in a cry of outrage. He slid his meaty hand under the tiny newborn infant, scooping it up still wrapped in its swaddling of kelp. After leaning the staff in the crook of his other elbow, he slipped a massive pinkie finger into its gaping mouth with an expertise that would have surprised no one who knew him. The ergonomics of the situation meant both his hands were engaged, which for the time being meant as well that both he and the infant were trapped where they stood on the sand.
“Well, this is a fine predicament, young man,” Aethelred muttered.
At last, the slackening of suction on his finger told him the baby slept. Aethelred balanced the child on one hand, laid his staff down, and picked up the sheathed, brass-hilted sword that rested nearby in the sand.
“Heh,” he said. “I recognize that.” He shoved the blade through the tapestry rope that bound his waist.
With the help of his reclaimed staff, the old man straightened. Sand and seaweed clung to the hem of his robes.
The baby blinked at the old man with wide, wondering eyes, eyes that filled with light like the glints shot through the indigo ocean, the indigo night. The old man had a premonition that this child’s eyes would not fade to any mundane color as he grew.
“Oh, Muire.” Aethelred held the infant close to his chest, protectively. She’d been the least and the last remaining of her divine sisterhood, and she had sacrificed everything she was or could have become to buy his world a second chance at life. And now this: a child. Her child, it must be. Hers, and Cathoair’s. “Takes you folks longer than us, I suppose.”
He turned his face aside so that the tears would not fall on the baby. Salty, he thought, inanely. He shook his eyes dry and looked out at the sea.
“Did you have to give this up, too? Oh, Muire, I’m so sorry.”

Copyright © 2011 by Elizabeth Bear

Meet the Author

ELIZABETH BEAR is a two-time Hugo Award winning writer. She is the author of fourteen previous novels, including the first two books of The Edda of Burdens: All the Windwracked Stars and By the Mountain Bound. She lives in Connecticut.

Elizabeth Bear shares a birthday with Frodo and Bilbo Baggins. This, coupled with a tendency to read the dictionary as a child, doomed her early to penury, intransigence, friendlessness, and the writing of speculative fiction. She was born in Hartford, Connecticut, and grew up in central Connecticut with the exception of two years (which she was too young to remember very well) spent in Vermont's Northeast Kingdom, in the last house with electricity before the Canadian border.

She's a second-generation Swede, a third-generation Ukrainian, and a third-generation Transylvanian, with some Irish, English, Scots, Cherokee, and German thrown in for leavening. Elizabeth Bear is her real name, but not all of it. Her dogs outweigh her, and she is much beset by her cats.

Bear was the recipient of the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer in 2005. She has won two Hugo Awards for her short fiction, a Sturgeon Award, and the Locus Award for Best First Novel. She is the author of the acclaimed Eternal Sky series, the Edda of Burdens series, and coauthor (with Sarah Monette) of the Iskryne series. Bear lives in Brookfield, Massachusetts.

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network


Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >

The Sea Thy Mistress 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
harstan More than 1 year ago
To save the world, Muire the Angel gave herself up by diving into the sea to become the Bearer of Burdens (see All the Windwracked Stars). However, not everyone she left behind rejoice with her ascension sacrifice. In Eiledon Cathoair the immortal warrior angel mourns his loss, which he sees everyday in their offspring Cathmar, who he raises as a single dad knowing the lad will never meet his mother. Even more raging is Heythe the Goddess, who had set in motion the end of the world before Muire interceded, but riding into the future she is shocked to find a renewed world rather than a dead orb. Knowing what Muire sacrifice has cost her, Heythe takes out her anger and frustration on tormented Cathoair who wallows in pity. She encourages the relatively new immortal to walk a personal path of destruction to force Muire to break her Bearer of Burdens oath and cause the final demise of Valdyrgard. On the other hand her other toy is the son but he displays maturity as he becomes an adult. Meanwhile Mingan the wolf observes the return of the evil enemy and plans to prevent Heythe's second chance at ending the world. This fantasy is fascinatingly more a character study as readers see deep into the souls of father and son and to a lesser degree other cast members. Elizabeth Bear enables her fans to feel Cathoair's torment; yet there is plenty of action as Heythe tries to force Muire to return to save her beloved mate and their son. Although Heythe is not quite as powerfully wicked as she was in All the Windwracked Stars, The Sea Thy Mistress is a super thriller as the audience wonders how the heroine of the first thriller will react to the latest threat. Harriet Klausner