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Deathless by Catherynne M. Valente

Deathless (edition 2012)

by Catherynne M. Valente

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8735110,166 (4.05)79
Authors:Catherynne M. Valente
Info:Tor Books (2012), Edition: First Edition, Paperback, 352 pages
Collections:Your library, Read 2012

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Deathless by Catherynne M. Valente

  1. 20
    Uprooted by Naomi Novik (Euryale)
    Euryale: Another standalone fantasy novel influenced by Eastern European fairy tales, with a clever female protagonist
  2. 10
    The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden (flying_monkeys)
    flying_monkeys: Both read like novel-length fairy tales based on Russian folklore. Both embrace their cold, wintry setting to superb effect.
  3. 10
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  4. 10
    The Secret History of Moscow by Ekaterina Sedia (ligature)
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    Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo (MyriadBooks)
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    Bitter Seeds by Ian Tregillis (MyriadBooks)
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    Lord of Light by Roger Zelazny (Lucy_Skywalker)
    Lucy_Skywalker: even though it's quite different :)

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» See also 79 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 51 (next | show all)
Oh man this book! It took me a hot second to get in to- I'm very, very unfamiliar with Russian folklore, so I spent probably the first ~20% of the book worried it was going above my head, but you catch up with the pacing of the book pretty quickly after a certain point, and then you're really hooked! Valente's writing is downright gorgeous--the descriptions she paints are just stunning, and the dialogue really hits back on that whole 'fairy tale' feeling. I wonder what it would be like to approach this book with a greater sense of the story behind the story she's telling, though the history pieces I could pick up better.

The part where she was living inside the egg with all the primary figures of the Russian Revolution especially tickled me, as I could pick out who they were!

Overall, I strongly recommend this, and am really excited to look into her other works to see what else she's produced--as well as maybe looking for readalikes for things similar to this book in tone! ( )
  aijmiller | Jun 13, 2017 |
This book is an interesting mix of Russian history and Russian myth. I particularly like the way that the author uses the structure of oral story telling in certain parts of the book - it really does make it feel like a fairy tale, albeit a dark and rather pessimistic one. ( )
  duchessjlh | May 5, 2017 |
Valente has one or two good ideas and the story of Koschei the Deathless should be fodder for great books, but the writing style was inconsistent throughout this novel, and her characters all have the same voices. There are times where she tries (and is successful) at co-opting the style of oral storytelling/fairytales, but the lack of distinction between character voices is not one of the times she's doing this deliberately, and even if it was deliberate it's rather a failure. The first part was worth reading, but I should have followed my gut when I got to the second part and found myself turned off by the shift in style (or lack-thereof), because that followed me throughout the book. ( )
  likecymbeline | Apr 1, 2017 |
This entertaining book made me feel a full range of emotions, from laughter to tears. This is a story of a girl influenced into becoming similar to the violent and abusive (although magical) men in her life. They taught her incorrectly that love is punishment, pain, and submission, which she then practices on others. She learns to play political games in a world full of war and lies. She holds tight to the truth however, even when the truth is painful. which is admirable. I loved this book even though it confuses love with pain and hate. This confusion reflects how love is portrayed in our culture, and so holds to the truth even as painful and confusing as that truth is. We live in a world that not only do many go hungry for lack of food, many if not most of us hunger for love. And instead of love we find this toxic mimic of love, where those who claim to love us abuse us, and the hunger to be loved is never satisfied. ( )
  SonoranDreamer | Mar 8, 2017 |
This book was incredible, fairy tales and Russian history all twined up together until you can't tell them apart, beautiful and bloody and all about getting what you want and finding out how terrible it was for you, and doing it again and again and again. I cannot describe how much I loved this book. ( )
  jen.e.moore | Sep 29, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 51 (next | show all)
Deathless performs the highest function of a problematic novel. It reveals more about the writer's technique and strengths than a polished, impregnable work might.
Another intricate fantasy from Valente, based on what feels like the entire panoply of Russian folktales. ...scenes, people, myths and history intertwine. It's dazzling but intensely self-involved.
added by melonbrawl | editKirkus Reviews (Feb 1, 2011)

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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Catherynne M. Valenteprimary authorall editionscalculated
White, BethCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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From the year nineteen forty
I look out on everything as if from a high tower
As if bidding farewell
To that from which I long ago parted.
As if crossing myself
And descending beneath dark arches.
—Anna Akhmatova
For Dmitri,
who spirited me away from a dark place
First words
Woodsmoke hung heavy and golden on the shorn wheat, the earth bristling like an old, bald woman.
In a city by the sea which was once called St. Petersburg, then Petrograd, then Leningrad, then, much later, St. Petersburg again, there stood a long, thin house on a long, thin street. By a long, thin window, a child in a pale blue dress and pale green slippers waited for a bird to marry her.
“That's how you get deathless, volchitsa. Walk the same tale over and over, until you wear a groove in the world, until even if you vanished, the tale would keep turning, keep playing, like a phonograph, and you'd have to get up again, even with a bullet through your eye, to play your part and say your lines.”
The rapt pupil will be forgiven for assuming the Tsar of Death to be wicked and the Tsar of Life to be virtuous. Let the truth be told: There is no virtue anywhere. Life is sly and unscrupulous, a blackguard, wolfish, severe. In service to itself, it will commit any offence. So, too, is Death possessed of infinite strategies and a gaunt nature- but also mercy, also grace and tenderness. In his own country, Death can be kind.
Morality is more dependent on the state of one's stomach than of one's nation.
Death is not like that. [...] You will live as you live anywhere. With difficulty, and grief. Yes, you are dead. And I and my family and everyone, always, forever. All dead like stones. But what does it matter? You still have to go to work in the morning. You still have to live.
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Set in an alternate version of St. Petersburg in the first half of the twentieth century, Marya Morevna, a clever child of the revolution, is transformed into the beautiful bride of Koschei the Deathless, a menacing overlord.

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