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The Unfinished Land

The Unfinished Land

by Greg Bear

Narrated by James Langton

Unabridged — 11 hours, 57 minutes

Greg Bear
The Unfinished Land

The Unfinished Land

by Greg Bear

Narrated by James Langton

Unabridged — 11 hours, 57 minutes

Greg Bear

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A sweeping Elizabethan historical fantasy from an internationally renowned author that evokes the seafaring adventures of Robert Louis Stevenson and the magic of The Bear and the Nightingale

Reynard, a young apprentice, seeks release from the drudgery of working for his fisherman uncle in the English village of Southwold. His rare days off lead him to strange encounters-not just with press gangs hoping to fill English ships to fight the coming Spanish Armada, but with strangers who seem to know him, one of whom casts a peculiar shadow.

The village's ships are commandeered, and after a fierce battle at sea, Reynard finds himself the sole survivor of his uncle's devastated boat. For days he drifts, starving and dying of thirst, until he is rescued by a galleon, also lost-and both are propelled by a strange current to an unknown northern island. Here, Reynard must meet his destiny in a violent clash between humans and gods.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly


With this apocalyptic Elizabethan fantasy, Hugo and Nebula award-winner Bear (Blood Music) combines Irish myth, Shakespeare’s The Tempest, and Anne McCaffrey’s Dragonriders of Pern series into a circuitous trudge that neglects plot for prophecy. Fisherman Reynard Shotwood, 15, the sole survivor of a battle with the Spanish Armada, is rescued from his wrecked boat by a Spanish warship and lands on the mythic, monster-festooned islands of Tir Na Nog. Tir Na Nog’s warring factions recognize Reynard as the bearer of a mysterious destiny central to their survival—though he must remain ignorant of his fate. To fulfill his purpose, Reynard searches the islands for the alien Crafters—even as colonizing Spanish forces and slaving Eastern queens work to destroy the Crafters’ technologically advanced works. Bear’s prose is impressive, but readers may struggle to make sense of his surrealist dreamscapes and inconsistently applied Early Modern English. When the stylistic layers are peeled back, they reveal a disappointingly trope-ridden core: an overskilled young white man fighting against women and people of color to defend the technological wonders of Western civilization. This parable’s expired punch line proves not worth the journey. Agent: Richard Curtis, Richard Curtis Assoc. (Jan.)

From the Publisher

"Set in the age of discovery, a tale of a very strange journey indeed—and a parable of the awakening of the mind of Mankind. As throughout his career, Bear continues to astonish and delight." — Stephen Baxter, award-winning author of the World Engines duology

"Here there be dragons, monsters and mentors, and landscapes previously seen only in dreams. With the Elizabethan boy Reynard, explore the magical, mythical North in a literary journey unlike any you have made before. An unexpected pleasure to read and remember." — Diana L. Paxson, author of Sword of Avalon and Hallowed Isle

Kirkus Reviews

In this Elizabethan historical fantasy, a young apprentice fisherman finds himself pushed north by strange currents to a ring of magic islands.

After his uncle’s fishing boat is commandeered by Queen Elizabeth to help the English fleet defend the island against King Philip's Spanish Armada, Reynard Shotwood finds himself the sole survivor on the floating ruins of his uncle’s boat. Close to death after having spent days adrift at sea, he's pulled from the water by the crew of a Spanish war ship, itself severely damaged. Lost and in desperate need of food, the crew members are powerless to do anything as a current pushes them inexplicably north toward a ring of seven islands. Once on land, the men find themselves assailed during the night by vampiric creatures that consume time from their lives. Attempting to stay alive in a land of mythical creatures, Reynard discovers his arrival heralds great change for the islands’ inhabitants. The premise—a boy fatefully finding a mysterious land and beginning a magic-filled journey of self-discovery—has an undeniable hook. Additionally, Bear’s exploration of various mythologies is a strength, and the fusion of folklore and fantasy creates a dreamlike sense of wonder in many sequences. Sadly, though, the story has no real power or sense of immediacy. Reynard—who has no idea who or what he is—is reluctantly pulled along through the story, which is lacking in clarity and focus. This narrative murkiness, coupled with an overall lack of intensity, makes for a flat reading experience. Persistent readers, however, will be rewarded with an action-packed conclusion filled with bombshell revelations.

Well conceived but deeply flawed.

Product Details

BN ID: 2940178595060
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 08/31/2022
Edition description: Unabridged

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