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The Moon and the Sun by Vonda N. McIntyre

The Moon and the Sun (1997)

by Vonda N. McIntyre

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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Recently added byprivate library, AWahle, torobcn, DisassemblyOfReason, heinemusik, anglemark, thindor, Musereader
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    Illusion by Paula Volsky (feeling.is.first)
    feeling.is.first: both books are set in alternate French court, complex politics & difficult moral choices

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English (21)  Finnish (1)  All languages (22)
Showing 1-5 of 21 (next | show all)
Father Yves de la Croix has been commissioned by Louis XIV, the Sun King, to find a sea monster. Louis, well into his reign in his fifties, believes he will obtain immortality by eating one of these creatures, and Yves, his Jesuit natural philosopher, knows where to find them. He succeeds, returning with a live female and a dead male for dissection.
Yves sister, Marie-Josephe, is also at court. She is intelligent and helps him in science experiments but also naive in the ways of the sophisticated French court. She befriends the live sea creature and learns to communicate with her.
This is an alternate history book about Louis XIV and Versailles with a tremendous amount of historical detail. As someone interested and somewhat knowledgeable about that time period, I found this book extremely interesting, but I suspect others might find the historical aspect a bit dense and too detailed. The book won the 1997 Nebula award versus books like A Game of Thrones, King's Dragon, and How Few Remain, and I believe it was well-deserved. The author has captured well the character of the many persons depicted in the book. Most of them were real persons and have their own historical record. The settings and descriptions are excellent, displaying all the opulence of Versailles.
Some might think the writing a bit stilted, but I thought the formal tone fit the period and setting. The world of the sea creature is suitably fantastical. I especially like music as the medium of communication between Marie-Josephe and the creature. I also liked that the sea creature was the Ariel-type version of a mermaid and more of an alien creature.
I found this an excellent read and truly enjoyed the book. ( )
1 vote N.W.Moors | Feb 19, 2018 |
Marie-Josephe is a naïve young woman suddenly thrust into the spotlight of Louis XIV’s court at Versailles because her brother Yves captures a mermaid for his majesty’s menagerie. She befriends the sea-woman and tries to save the misunderstood creature from Louis’ plans to eat her and gain immortality.

While I enjoyed the story, I skimmed (extensively) because the painstakingly researched and lavishly depicted court at Versailles overwhelmed the characters to the point of being distracting.
( )
  memccauley6 | May 3, 2016 |
For quite a while, I was convinced I'd already read this book - but then I realized I'd confused it title-wise, with Patricia McKillip's "The Moon and the Face." Not the same book at all.

Here, we are thrown into the court of Louis XIV. Our protagonist, Marie-Josephe, is a very low-ranking member of this court, an absurdly sheltered girl, straight from a hellish stint in a convent. However, she's scholarly and intelligent by nature, and is more than enthusiastic to assist her brother, a priest and naturalist, in the task sponsored by the King himself: an expedition to capture, display and dissect sea monsters. Sea monsters are rare, already hunted nigh to extinction, as legend has it that eating their flesh will confer immortality.
The priest has succeeded in capturing two of the monsters - one dead, one alive. Marie-Josephe is given the task of feeding the living monster, a female. She balances these duties with the demands of the court, and her growing moral discomfort regarding her slave and childhood companion, the Turkish woman known as Odelette. As she becomes familiar with the captive 'monster,' she begins to realize that the mermaid is just as human as herself.

The book starts rather slowly and confusingly. I rarely have to refer to a list of 'dramatis personae,' but I did find myself consulting the one provided here. However, it really picked up as it went on, and the novel's themes emerged. The narrative grew into a powerful and complex musing on freedom, oppression, and the nature of humanity.

* It reminded me quite a bit of the short story I read recently: Miss Carstairs and the Merman - Delia Sherman.

* It also features a much-shorter-than-average noble who excels at court politics, for the Tyrion Lannister fans. (Lucien's a bit nicer than Tyrion, though.)

[note 9/7/14 - I just found out a movie is in production, based on this novel. I very much doubt they'll capture either the atmosphere or the complexities... but, we shall see! http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2328678/ ]
( )
  AltheaAnn | Feb 9, 2016 |

Great premise, but fails to deliver.

The characters are wooden and stereotypical. The main character is completely unbelievable and the semi-historical court of the sun king is ruined by randomness that breaks immersion again and again. At the end I was expecting king Salomo and the queen of Sheeba to turn up. ( )
  StigE | Feb 22, 2014 |
Tiptree shortlist 1997 ( )
  SChant | Nov 8, 2013 |
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» Add other authors (6 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Vonda N. McIntyreprimary authorall editionscalculated
Fields, AnnaNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Halsey, GaryCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Avram Davidson
1923 - 1993
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Midsummer Day’s sun blazed white in the center of the sky. The sky burned blue to the horizon. The flagship of the King crossed abruptly from the limpid green of shallow water to the dark indigo of limitless depths.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0671567667, Mass Market Paperback)

In this rich and engrossing tale, Vonda N. McIntyre proves once again that her plotting and mastery of language are among the best in the business. The Moon and the Sun, which won the 1997 Nebula Award for best novel of the year, is the story of Marie-Josèphe, a young lady in the court of Louis XIV. When her brother Yves returns from a naturalist voyage with two sea monsters (one live, one dead), Marie-Josèphe is caught up in a battle of wills involving the fate of the living creature. The king intends to test whether the sea monster holds the secrets of immortality, but Marie-Josèphe knows the creature to be an intelligent, lonely being who yearns only to be set free. In a monumental test of the limits of patience and love, Marie-Josèphe defies the will of the king, her brother, and the pope in defense of what she knows is right, at any cost. McIntyre's atmospheric prose envelops the reader in a fully realized world--sights, smells, and sounds are described in great detail. The author completely represents the Sun King's court at Versailles--her research for the book must have been quite extensive. The blend of history, science, and fantasy makes for a book you will want to gulp down. --Therese Littleton

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:14:51 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

An alternate history in which Marie-Josephe de la Croix, the sister of a Jesuit priest in the employ of France's King Louis XIV, befriends a sea monster the monarch believes holds the key to immortality, and draws the wrath of the king by attempting to set the captive creature free.… (more)

» see all 3 descriptions

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