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The Bird of the River (Lord Ermenwyr #3)

4.11  ·  Rating details ·  472 Ratings  ·  74 Reviews
In this new story set in the world of The Anvil of the World and The House of the Stag, two teenagers join the crew of a huge river barge after their addict mother is drowned. The girl and her half-breed younger brother try to make the barge their new home. As the great boat proceeds up the long river, we see a panorama of cities and cultures, and begin to perceive pattern ...more
ebook, 272 pages
Published July 20th 2010 by Tor Books (first published July 2010)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Wealhtheow
Oct 04, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
A beautiful story of a young woman traveling along a river. Eliss is smart, observant, and hard-working, and if she were any less competent she and her brother would probably be dead in a ditch somewhere. Instead, her tenacious dedication to survival means that her brother can explore the meaning of his mixed heritage and Eliss can slowly come to understand her own character and that of her lost mother.

This is set in the same fantasy world as The House of the Stag and Anvil of the World. Like t
...more
Snail in Danger (Sid) Nicolaides
This book was originally titled "And Summer Is Coming Soon," after the game that the protagonist Eliss and her brother Alder have played to make themselves feel better. (Their childhood might be best described as unsettled.) The game goes like this:

"We have a place to sleep."
"We have a place to sleep and a warm blanket."
"We have a place to sleep, and a warm blanket, and dinner tonight."
"We have a place to sleep, and a warm blanket, and dinner tonight, and breakfast tomorrow."
"And who knows what,
...more
Mariel
Aug 28, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: sleeping in trees
Recommended to Mariel by: disciples of the wearied woman
Falena who had died on the river had had a face that seemed to have broken and been mended, a sad foolish face. She looked nothing like this practical and cautious girl, whose clear eyes focused sharply. But Falena had been this person once, hadn’t she? She looked like me, Eliss realized, feeling a slow shock. Mama was like me.


Fifteen year old Eliss is a natural at reading the surface of the river. From the masts of the bird she calls look-out to pay-days of pirate crime scenes, sunken treasure
...more
Phoenixfalls
This is a melancholy book, both because of its subject matter and because it is likely the last Kage Baker book I will ever see published, given her death last January. The speculative fiction field is lessened by her loss, and this book is a reminder of exactly why.

I suspect I will be in the minority in holding this opinion. It's a slight book, both in length and in that it is one in which not a whole lot happens. The heavy-duty world-building went on in the previous two novels, and this one is
...more
Althea Ann
Jul 14, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I am so very sad that there will be no more books set in this world. Story aside, this is just one of those fantasy worlds that you want to fall into and live in for a while… maybe not permanently, as this story and the preceding two novels, Anvil of the World and House of the Stag, show, it’s not a perfect world. It’s gritty, and plagued by many of the same social ills as our own: racism, drug abuse, casual cruelty, the oppression of the poor by the rich… but there’s also a beauty and life to t ...more
Sarah Pugh
Mar 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I love this book for the characters, the setting - and how the pace and the language in the book reflect that tropical river setting and make you feel as if you're drifting on a river while reading it - and most of all, for the compassion and sensible attitude towards substance use within it. Yes, Eliss' mother was addicted to a sedative, but it's understood throughout the book that the addiction was a part of her tragedy, not the cause of it. Falena was more than her addiction, despite being al ...more
Olga Godim
I’m tempted to say something generic about this YA book, like ‘a nice little story.’ And it is exactly that, pretty generic too, although it reads well.
The story follows a poor teenage girl, Eliss, a lookout on a river maintenance barge. The barge slowly lumbers up the river, checking for and removing snags (fallen trees and wrecked ships) to keep the river navigable for other ships.
From day to day, Eliss learns her craft, meets people, and basically discovers her niche in life. The novel is a
...more
John
Mar 26, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A delight--and a sadness to know that there won't be any more. This bildungsroman isn't as funny as ANVIL OF THE WORLD, but it has its moments and is better written and constructed...and worth the rating just for Eliss, the main character, and tough talking little Wolkin (oh, he's a treat!). Younger teens would love it too, methinks.

Favorite passage: "Under Krolerett Civic Ordinance Number 302, Subsection 5, you have the legal right to claim trophies including but not limited to the assailant's
...more
Tasula
May 18, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I love all Kage Baker books, especially The Company series. This is in a different "world"- in the same series as Houses of the Stag- strictly fantasy, with teen protagonists, so it is gentler than some of her other books. A young girl and her mixed heritage little brother join their drug addicted mother on a huge river boat- the Bird of the River- and adventures ensue.
YouKneeK
Dec 27, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was a short, quick read, but it was entertaining. It’s set in the same world as The Anvil of the World and The House of the Stag, but it has no significant connection with either book and it stands well on its own. Chronologically speaking, it definitely takes place after The House of the Stag, but I couldn’t say with any certainty where it fits in comparison with The Anvil of the World.

The story takes place entirely from the perspective of a teenage girl, Eliss, although it’s written
...more
Emma Deplores Goodreads Censorship
I picked this one up under the mistaken impression that it was written for an adult audience. For YA, it’s certainly not bad, and it’s a quick and easy read, but not what I’d hoped for.

The Bird of the River is a simple fantasy tale about a teenage girl, Eliss, who loses her mother and gains a job on a riverboat. As the boat travels up the river, Eliss deals with her unhappy mixed-race little brother, a young nobleman on a secret quest, and a mystery surrounding attacks by monster pirates. There’
...more
Charlotte English
Oct 09, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
Reaching the end of this slim novel was a sad experience, not just because the book is as good as one expects from Kage Baker but because it was her last. Who knows what further stories might have been told about this world, had she lived longer?

This is a gentle sort of story, even though it's a murder mystery. When their mother dies in a diving accident, Eliss (apparently about 15) and her half-Yendri brother must find a way to make a life for themselves. Eliss finds her home among the crew of
...more
Margaret
In the same world as The Anvil of the World and The House of the Stag, two children and their mother join the crew of a huge river barge. When their mother drowns in a diving accident, Eliss and Alder must figure out how to fit in among the crew and make a new life for themselves.

The Bird of the River doesn't have the cataclysmic, world-impacting events of the first two books, but I really liked it all the same. There's a plot thread having to do with Krelan, an aristocrat on a quest, and with t
...more
Jim Mcclanahan
Jul 23, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the third and last of Baker's trio of fantasy tales. It follows The House of the Stag which is a transcendant fantasy tale with epic characters and a marvelous story. By comparison, this novel is akin to a chamber piece as composed by a musician known for sweeping symphonies. I found the characters compelling, albeit confined to their roles as passengers/crew of the river boat whose name is the title of the book. Almost a "whodunit", the feisty female lead, Eliss, helps to run villains t ...more
Pop Library
Aug 12, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, rachael-s
A character driven fantasy, wonderfully done. Eliss begins as a struggling girl, responsible for her drug-addict mother and mixed-race brother, and defined by them. Her mother dies, and with time Eliss is able to let go – even coming to understand that the pretty lies that have blossomed into a popular song express a truth about her mother deeper than the truth that she was a drug addict. She learns to let go of her brother so that he can grow up where he is comfortable, accepted, and finally hi ...more
Jenny Koch
Fun, quick read featuring a sea journey, vendettas, culture clashes, and a sweet romance. I love the author's sense of slighty ironic, intelligent humor:

"Mr. Pitspike is exceptionally cross today," said Krelan. "Mr. Pitspike threw a pot of soap grease at my head and told me that if he had to look at my asinine attempt at a mustache for one more minute today he was going to suffer a collapse and spray blood from his ears. Therefore I have the afternoon off."
Vanessa
Aug 25, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
When a job goes fatally wrong for their mother, teenage Eliss and her younger half-brother Alder find themselves orphaned and marooned on the barge Bird of the River. The crew takes pity and lets them stay on and the pair hope to have finally found a 'home' that welcomes them. They've lived a rough and itinerant life as a result of their irresponsible mother: Alder is half Yendari, and Eliss has had to make up the difference when their mother was wasted from smoking yellow weed.

Eliss takes to s
...more
Stefan
Eliss is a teenage girl living an itinerant life with her drug-addicted mother and young brother. Her mother, formerly a successful diver, now has trouble keeping a job because her drug habit has damaged her lungs, but she’s given a chance on the Bird of the River, a huge raft-like boat that travels and trades up and down the river on year-long journeys. Eliss shows some talent as a look-out, spotting blockages and snags upriver, and even her young brother Alder, who is half Yendri and has exper ...more
Lise
Oct 27, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-2011, owned
A lovely book, this--and Kage's last (?). It takes place in the same universe as The Anvil of the World and the House of the Stag, but focuses on different characters. It's the story of Eliss, whose addict mother gets a job diving for The Bird of the River, a barge which, as far as I can tell, has the sole mission of clearing navigational hazards from the river. Shortly into the book Eliss' mother dies unexpectedly, leaving her to care for her younger brother, and to find her own way in the worl ...more
Darius Jung
Jan 28, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Bird of the River is the third and final book in Kage Baker's fantasy cycle. It was released posthumously and is a fitting farewell from the author. Returning to the world created in The Anvil of the World, Baker returns to that first novel's breezy feel and anachronistic humour that made it such an unusual and enjoyable fantasy read.

The novel follows Eliss, a teenaged girl who finds herself forced to look after her younger brother by taking on work as a ship's lookout with "The Bird of the
...more
Just_ann_now
Jan 09, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2013
I needed to start my WOGF reading somewhere, and I had heard of Kage Baker, so I figured she would be a good place. I looked at some recommendations, chose the book with the highest reader rating, put in the request at my library, and sat down to wait. While I was waiting, I started reading the e-book, The Best of Kage Baker. The stories (mostly from "The Company" series) were enjoyable, but I didn't really find them anything special.

Then I started reading The Bird of the River, and within the
...more
Jamie
another great book! I love these hilarious, sci-fi stories by Baker. She has a way of sucking you into this world that is parallel to ours. Eliss and her brother Alder and her mother Falena are poor. Falena is a diver looking for work but she's become an addict and doesn't keep jobs. They find themselves on The Bird of the River, Falena having to prove herself to secure a spot. Eliss having pushed her mother to do this so that they had a place to stay. But not too far into the trip, Falena drown ...more
Sara
Mar 29, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
Overall, I am a big fan of Kage Baker (RIP), but unfortunately, her last book fell flat for me. I didn't relate very well to the characters and the plot meandered just like the river boat in the story and ultimately went nowhere. The only thing that it had going for it was its setting and world-building. When I reached the end, I was left with the feeling of "what was the point?" The only reason I finished this book was because I enjoyed Baker's other books.

A disappointing read, which is too ba
...more
Kira
Apr 17, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
Maybe it's that I have a soft spot for down-to-earth female protagonists. Maybe it's that I enjoy reading about the continuing antics of the Children of the Sun and the Yendri. Whatever it is, I adored this. It's rare that I enjoy the third book in a series more than the first two, but that is the case here. This book has a more linear structure than either The Anvil of the World's three distinct stories or The House of the Stag's ever-changing perspectives. Chronologically it feels like it take ...more
Juushika
A small family joins the crew of a large river barge. This was far and away my favorite of the Ermenwyr books--no small thing, as I enjoyed the entire series. The Bird of the River is a smaller, softer book. It benefits from but doesn't add to the worldbuilding that occurred in other novels (although it can be read as a standalone); instead, it explores the local effects of clashing and developing societies. The tone is less humorous and more bittersweet, to great effect. There's a plot, but it' ...more
Rachael
Aug 06, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
A character driven fantasy, wonderfully done. Eliss begins as a struggling girl, responsible for her drug-addict mother and mixed-race brother, and defined by them. Her mother dies, and with time Eliss is able to let go – even coming to understand that the pretty lies that have blossomed into a popular song express a truth about her mother deeper than the truth that she was a drug addict. She learns to let go of her brother so that he can grow up where he is comfortable, accepted, and finally hi ...more
Phoebe
Mar 08, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
No review yet? Oh my goodness I'm falling behind. Uh...thoughtsthoughtsthoughts...'worthwhile' thughts...(sighs).

What can I say? Through reading The Anvil of the World and then The Bird of the River I'm becoming a Kage Baker fan. Her books have a mean sense of wit, journeys through precarious lands and forests, a vividly depicted fantasy realm, and characters that stay with you after you've closed the book.

At the same time...I know that the fame of Kage Baker's fantasy is really built on her sci
...more
Elizabeth McCollum
So far, very good. I was a little uncomfortable with the initial scenes of the kids and their mother, but now that the kids are traveling up the river, the story has gotten really interesting and very riveting. I like her world-building, it's very effortless and doesn't intrude into the plot, yet you really get a sense of a very different place. A vague sense of the Ganges in India, or the Amazon in South America, but with very obvious differences.

Finished it now, and loved it! Liked the heroine
...more
Kiirstin
Jul 29, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Can't possibly be coherent about this book, I loved it that much. It's a story that is so well-put-together that it doesn't feel heavy with issues despite a darkness that could have weighed it down. Wonderful characters and clearly developed, vivid world that feels incredibly real. This kind of fantasy is exactly, perfectly, wonderfully my thing and I'll be rereading this again, multiple times.

full review at a book a week
Lisa
Oct 14, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Really loved this, set in the same world as The Anvil of the World and The House of the Stag, which I also adored. It is perfectly dreadful that I have now read all that has or will be written by Kage Baker in this universe. At least in the form of novels.

You know what would convince me of divinity? A whole library full of books you've never read that all your favorite authors wrote post-mortem. That's grace for you.

The book is lovely, great main character, fabulous secondary and supporting cha
...more
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53193
Born June 10, 1952, in Hollywood, California, and grew up there and in Pismo Beach, present home. Spent 12 years in assorted navy blue uniforms obtaining a good parochial school education and numerous emotional scars. Rapier wit developed as defense mechanism to deflect rage of larger and more powerful children who took offense at abrasive, condescending and arrogant personality in a sickly eight- ...more
More about Kage Baker...

Other Books in the Series

Lord Ermenwyr (10 books)
  • The Anvil of the World (Lord Ermenwyr, #1)
  • The House of the Stag (Lord Ermenwyr, #2)
  • Mother Aegypt and Other Stories
  • Year's Best Fantasy 5
  • The Best of Kage Baker
  • Wizards: Magical Tales From the Masters of Modern Fantasy
  • Year's Best Fantasy 8
  • Best American Fantasy
  • The Dragon Book: Magical Tales from the Masters of Modern Fantasy

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“That is what you're making of the end of your mother's life, child. What will you make of your own?” 4 likes
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