Alytha's Reviews > The Sea Thy Mistress

The Sea Thy Mistress by Elizabeth Bear
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's review
Jan 07, 2012

it was ok

** spoiler alert ** Contains spoilers for the first two novels.

This book is set about 30 years after the events in the first novel. Aethelred, the former innkeeper, finds a baby on the seashore; the son of Muire, who is now that world's version of the Midgardserpent, and the new einherjar Cathoair. Apparently mythical serpents have very long gestation times.
With his father, he grows up in a small cottage next to a chapel built to his mother. He is raised as an einherjar and in the spirit of charity for the people of Vadyrgard who are still rebuilding after the almost-end of the world.
At some point, the ancient antagonist Heythe arrives, travelling through time on her rainbow bridge. She starts travelling around and insinuating herself into the confidence of Cathoair's friends, getting every closer to him, and gathering information.
When his son Cathmar becomes a teenager and starts going to Eiledon on his own, she appears as a teenager to him and becomes his girlfriend. He takes her to his father's cottage, where she takes advantage of the latter's dark past and torn soul to make a fateful contract. Their friends finally get together in order to heal Cathoair, and get rid of Heythe.

I didn't like this one as much as the two first novels. Heythe, as an antagonist, is just far too one-dimensional, and her motives are unexplained, except it just being her nature. In contrast to a complex character like Mingan, she's pretty terrible.
Furthermore, Cathoair and Cathmar behave like complete and utter morons for a good part of this novel. For Cathmar, it is a bit understandable, as he's a teenager, in love, and in a very weird situation, but Cathoair is mentally 70 now, and shouldn't behave like an emo teen anymore. If the person you trust most in the world comes and tells you that the woman you had sex with in the sea, which almost led to you drowning, was not Muire but a trick, you might want to either believe her or summon Muire yourself to ask, instead of throwing her out and not talking to her for years.
Also, why didn't the new children of the light act as soon as they noticed that Heythe was back, and what she was up to? Mingan was watching her almost constantly, and although he's a bit of an outsider still, I would say that they would believe him if he told them that an ancient evil goddes who almost brought the world to an end 2000 years ago is back to finish her work, and destroy both Cathoair and Cathmar in the process. Instead, they wait for a couple of years...

The beginning and the end of the book are pretty good, but the bit in the middle, where Heythe has her merry way with everybody, despite both the reader and the characters knowing what she's up to is pretty infuriating.

All in all, 6.5/10

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