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The Moon and the Sun (1997)

by Vonda N. McIntyre

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
8133627,015 (3.45)57
Fantasy. Fiction. Historical Fiction. HTML:

The Nebula-winning novel has been optioned by Bill Mechanic (executive producer of The New World) and Pandemonium Films (Coraline). It is in pre-production with plans to begin filming in Spring 2012.

"Inspired by tales of ancient sea-monsters, McIntyre spins a marvelous alternative-history fable about greed and goodness, power and pathos set at the 17th century court of Louis XIV, France's glittering Sun King.... McIntyre vividly re-creates a Versailles poised on the cusp between alchemy and modern science. Her imaginings enliven her history with wonder, but, as in the best fantasy, they serve less to dazzle by their inventiveness than to illuminate brilliantly real-world truths - here, humanity's responses, base and noble, when confronting the unknown." ??Roger Zelazny… (more)

  1. 00
    Illusion by Paula Volsky (feeling.is.first)
    feeling.is.first: both books are set in alternate French court, complex politics & difficult moral choices
  2. 00
    The Oracle Glass by Judith Merkle Riley (Litrvixen)
    Litrvixen: Both are set in 17th century France and deals with fantastical elements. Female protagonists who has to make difficult choices and make their way in a male dominated world.
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» See also 57 mentions

English (27)  Spanish (1)  Finnish (1)  All languages (29)
Showing 1-5 of 27 (next | show all)
This is the kind of book, that in the wrong hands could have been a very boring and uninteresting read. Writing about Versailles and court life is hard to make interesting. I feel like if you are not entirely familiar with the historical context and the intricacies of court politics that some interactions might not read very well, but if you are familiar, the balancing act of emotionally affecting character work with real history is incredibly impressive. This book follows the exploits of a naive girl, Marie-Josephe, who comes to the court of the Sun King, Louis XIV to visit her brother, Yves from the French colony of Martinique. Yves is a Jesuit Priest, who has captured a mermaid for the Sun King. Why does the Sun King want or need a mermaid? He is dying, and he thinks eating the mermaid will be the key to gaining immortality. Everyone assumes that the mermaid is an unthinking beast, but Marie-Josephe realizes that her brother has committed a grave mistake, that the mermaid can understand and talk to her with song. One of the things I think is kind of clever in this book is the idea of cages within cages. The Sun King famously kept the aristocracy under his thumb using the trappings of Versailles, just as the mermaid cannot escape its cage, just as many other characters including Marie-Josephe are trying to escape their respective cages. ( )
  kittyfoyle | Apr 23, 2024 |
I read this awhile ago and remember Loving it. I shall have to re-read it. ( )
  burritapal | Oct 23, 2022 |
My brother, about the premise of the book, said "who is this for?", but if no one else, it's definitely for me. Alternate history, novel of manners, tinges of sci fi, an undercurrent of romance, I love them all and McIntyre weaves them together well. I loved the many specifics of the court of Louis XIV, especially the tension between the divinity of the church and of the king. I think at times the setting and lavish detail almost threatened to overwhelm plot and character, but it managed to never quite tip over that line-- though it seemed like the price there was that characters were sometimes almost too powerfully dramatic/archetypal, and the plot could be, of necessity, rollicking. In the end, though, I think both extremes increased my enjoyment. After all, 17th century Versailles is a good setting for extremes.

The book is written in a close third person that usually follows the young lady-in-waiting Marie-Josephe but occasionally switches to another character-- sometimes I was off-put by what felt like a switch mid-stream, but in general I enjoyed Marie-Josephe as a protagonist and also found the diversions away from her refreshing. At times Marie-Josephe felt a bit like she was everything all in one (outsider, king's favorite, dangerous rebel, deft court lady, pious sheltered Catholic, natural philosopher, composer, accomplished artist, and action hero). But also, why not? Explanations of natural talent and particular circumstance were plausible enough, and it fit well into the more romantic drift of the story and gave us windows into all of the areas McIntyre was interested in revealing.

Just as McIntyre mixes genres, she also mixes styles-- the moments of darkness and realism balance out the fanciful or romantic ones. A mermaid can sing images into being and heal wounds with a kiss, just as she can be petted and trained and quietly misunderstood, just as she can be violently netted and beaten. A lady-in-waiting casually worries about menstrual stains in one scene, is horrified to have her blood let against her will in another, draws a sword and climbs out onto the bowsprit of a ship in another. I liked that in this book all these things can exist together.

A side note-- what in the world is going on with the movie adaptation? I've only seen the trailer so I'm sure there's stuff I'm missing, and I also understand that it's 2014 schlocky fun that was released in 2022 through some production fluke. The book can be a bit schlocky too, I get it, the things that are confusing me are aren't cheap costuming or strange accent work or Marie-Josephe being a secret princess or even Sherzad looking almost completely human. I mean, I do hate that last one, but I feel like in a pre-Shape of Water world it was inevitable. But one the thing that really got me was when I was trying to figure out who the obviously-love-interest character was-- I couldn't tell whether they had gotten rid of Lucien's dwarfism (boo) or made up a new character entirely -- and I discovered that actually the man making out with Marie-Josephe was... Yves!! What?! In the book that's the name of her Jesuit priest brother. It looks like he is no longer a priest in the movie and I HAVE to assume he and Marie-Josephe are no longer brother and sister. But why would you even do that?? Just give him a different name-- or, better yet, keep Lucien as the love interest!

But sorry to spend so much time on an adaptation I haven't even seen. Overall, I very much enjoyed this book, and Anna Fields continues to be an excellent narrator. ( )
  misslevel | Mar 23, 2022 |
An unusual historical fantasy. Claustrophobic life at the court of King Louis XIV is quite subtly and convincingly rendered. The politics, even by the standards of when the book was written never mind 17th Century France, seem a little ahead of their time. It makes the passage of the book's heroine a harrowing one, as she battles for the right of a woman to be taken seriously, for the rights of other races and even other species, for romantic love and for natural justice in the very seat of absolute power. I found myself nearly as emotionally exhausted as Marie-Josephe on occasion. Ultimately, however, if improbably, this is a narratively satisfying novel. PS You fools! You really did it! You made it into a terrible movie! Argggh! ( )
  Chris_Cob | Jan 10, 2022 |
An alternate history that focuses on the manners and psychology rather than grand scale political affairs. A few times I felt it veered towards preachy when the reader is shown how little power almost everyone, especially women, had but then again, it's only showing the historical truth. A rich, immersive world pushing the limits of what fantasy can achieve. ( )
  missjudgment | Aug 3, 2020 |
Showing 1-5 of 27 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (6 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Vonda N. McIntyreprimary authorall editionscalculated
Bauche-Eppers, EvaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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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Fantasy. Fiction. Historical Fiction. HTML:

The Nebula-winning novel has been optioned by Bill Mechanic (executive producer of The New World) and Pandemonium Films (Coraline). It is in pre-production with plans to begin filming in Spring 2012.

"Inspired by tales of ancient sea-monsters, McIntyre spins a marvelous alternative-history fable about greed and goodness, power and pathos set at the 17th century court of Louis XIV, France's glittering Sun King.... McIntyre vividly re-creates a Versailles poised on the cusp between alchemy and modern science. Her imaginings enliven her history with wonder, but, as in the best fantasy, they serve less to dazzle by their inventiveness than to illuminate brilliantly real-world truths - here, humanity's responses, base and noble, when confronting the unknown." ??Roger Zelazny

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