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Saint Leibowitz and the Wild Horse Woman (1997)

by Walter M. Miller, Jr.

Other authors: Terry Bisson (Editor)

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Leibowitz (2)

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711623,975 (3.13)22
A CANTICLE FOR LEIBOWITZ, Walter M. Miller's first novel, was first published in 1960 and was immediately hailed as a classic; now, more than 37 years later, comes Miller's second novel. This sequel to A CANTICLE FOR LEIBOWITZ is a major science fiction publishing event and confirms his unique voice - witty, ironic and sophisticated - has remained undimmed. One thousand years after a nuclear holocaust, the Catholic Church is still in a power struggle with the temporal leaders of the devastated USA, leaders who control small city-states and expanses of broken country and desert. One of the leading churchmen of this period is Cardinal Brownpony, descended from the Nomads, wanderers of mixed descent. Through his schemes, Brownpony hopes to keep the church free of takeover by men of violence - but many of his enemies work from within the church itself... SAINT LEIBOWITZ is an extraordinary novel, compelling, challenging and visionary.… (more)
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» See also 22 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 6 (next | show all)
As a sequel to "A canticle For Liebowitz", this is disappointing. But "A Canticle" was brilliant, so a let-down is foretold. The Monk of the order does interact with his post-apocalyptic environment, and perhaps get things moving towards a recovery. ( )
  DinadansFriend | Jan 18, 2014 |
My reaction to reading this book in 1998. Spoilers follow.

I had a tough time reading this sequel to Miller’s A Canticle for Leibowitz. Part of the reason was that this book, which covers the life of one monk about 70 years after the end of the first part of A Canticle for Leibowitz, deals heavily with nomad cultures in what is now the lower Midwest of America and nomads have never much interested me in fact or fiction. (It took me a while to guess some of the corrupted place names like “Bay Ghost River” for “Pecos River”.), The second is this book has mysticism – Christian, nomad, and Buddhist – as a major theme.

There is wit here—particularly the indignities protagonist Blacktooth suffers while a Cardinal. And I enjoyed the ecclesiastical intrigue. The book is not the re-telling of the Dark Ages, Renaissance, and Apocalypse as in the predecessor. It seems to be playing a bit with mixing two historical themes – the medieval struggles between Church and State with Brownpony and Filpeo Hannegan representing the respective sides and the barbarian invasions (repelled here) of the latter Roman Empire. The mood was despairing – given that all the struggles come to naught given the end of A Canticle for Leibowitz (but, in the long run, we’re all dead and none of us can be sure how enduring or significant our efforts will be) and the “love” between Aedrea and Blacktooth is inadequately consummated sexually, and they end their days as hermits who live in neighboring valleys.

Miller constructs this story as a conflict between peace and war (symbolized in Blacktooth) and the barbarian and citizen (symbolized by Brownpony and, to a certain extent, Blacktooth). I think the story’s main problem is the character of Blacktooth (some might see this flaw as subtlety). It’s never quite clear why he has such a problem with the disciplined life of a Leibowitzian monk. The end of the novel seems to imply that his calling is to contemplation but solitary contemplation found in the hermitage. (The Wandering Jew shows up here.). Still, it’s not clear why Blacktooth so resents his assigned duties of translating Boedullies into nomadic tongues. As for the mysticism, I’m not sure if the 40 years between the novels made Miller more ecumenical in his mysticism. (He did commit suicide – not something a conventionally devout Catholic would do.). The Leibowitz monks are based on partly the Benedictine Order (whose rules form each chapter’s epigraph). Miller personally participated in the bombing, in WWII, of the Order’s Monte Cassino monastery – the oldest monastery in the Western world. Miller must have felt some resonance with the soldiers plundering New Rome and Church property. ( )
  RandyStafford | Aug 11, 2013 |
I finally struggled to the end of this book. There was too much politics in it and not enough story. I won't be re-reading it. ( )
  muumi | Nov 10, 2011 |
Saint Leibowitz actually takes place in the 600-year gap between parts 2 and 3 of A Canticle for Leibowitz, and that's where I read it. It's a bit of an odd fit, in that in covers nowhere near as much time as its predecessor, but it's a hundred pages longer. It's a flabby book; while Canticle's power comes from its sharp, pointed components, this one just goes around and around, taking in a full three papal elections by the end. Though it's ostensibly the story of a young monk trying to figure out his place in the world, it gets too involved in the uninteresting politics of Miller's future world. It was fine for them to be uninteresting in Canticle, since they were just a backdrop to the real story, but in Saint Leibowitz they crowd out the real story. There's a good idea here, but not even the protagonist seems interested in it. It's a shame, really; I suspect it could have made a good 100-page story, but we're stuck with a so-so 400-page one instead.
2 vote Stevil2001 | Mar 20, 2011 |
Just because it has "Leibowitz" in its title this isn't a worthy sequel to Miller's justly famed earlier book. Flabby where the other was concise, boring where "Canticle" was gripping, tedious where the other was passionate, I think it was left unfinished at Miller's death because he knew it was bad and didn't know how to fix it. Anyone who wants a cast of thousands with unpronounceable names and violent religious conflict would find "The Conquest of Mexico" more rewarding. ( )
1 vote gibbon | May 19, 2010 |
Showing 1-5 of 6 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (6 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Miller, Walter M., Jr.primary authorall editionsconfirmed
Bisson, TerryEditorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Zumbo, MattCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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For David, and all those who sailed against the Apocalypse
The estate of Walter M. Miller, Jr., would like to thank Terry Bisson for his editorial contribution to Saint Leibowitz and the Wild Horse Woman.
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As he sat shivering in the gloomy corridor outside the meeting hall and waited for the tribunal to finish deciding his punishment, Brother Blacktooth St. George, A.O.L., remembered the time his boss uncle had taken him to see the Wild Horse Woman at a Plains Nomad tribal ceremony, and how Deacon ("Half-Breed') Brownpony, who was on a diplomatic mission to the Plains at the time, had tried to exorcise her priests with holy water and drive her spirit from the council lodge.
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A CANTICLE FOR LEIBOWITZ, Walter M. Miller's first novel, was first published in 1960 and was immediately hailed as a classic; now, more than 37 years later, comes Miller's second novel. This sequel to A CANTICLE FOR LEIBOWITZ is a major science fiction publishing event and confirms his unique voice - witty, ironic and sophisticated - has remained undimmed. One thousand years after a nuclear holocaust, the Catholic Church is still in a power struggle with the temporal leaders of the devastated USA, leaders who control small city-states and expanses of broken country and desert. One of the leading churchmen of this period is Cardinal Brownpony, descended from the Nomads, wanderers of mixed descent. Through his schemes, Brownpony hopes to keep the church free of takeover by men of violence - but many of his enemies work from within the church itself... SAINT LEIBOWITZ is an extraordinary novel, compelling, challenging and visionary.

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