The second book in the Edda of Burdens trilogy. It’s set before the first book, All the Windwracked Stars.

Publication year: 2009
Format: print
Page count: 318
Publisher: TOR

The previous book in the series, All the Windwracked Stars, started with the aftermath of a battle and a world’s ending. In this book we find out the events which led to that battle and to the tarnished.

The einherjar and the waelcyrge, the Children of the Light, are living in relative peace in mead halls around the world. They have the ability to take a mortal’s dying breath and avenge his or her death but, at least according to this book, they don’t use it much. They are immortal, don’t sleep, and don’t require food so they each have their own interests to spend time on. For example, Muire is a historian and a poet, Ulfgar is a smith, and Mingan has his wolves. They can’t lie but they also don’t have to tell the whole truth. The biggest problem they seem to have is that their war leader Strifbjorn is still unmarried and all of the women are attracted to him. Of course, Strifbjorn and the strange outsider Mingan are lovers and are keeping that a secret. Apparently, only heterosexual relationships are allowed because of the low birthrate. Also, the einherjar and waelcyrige have an ability called the Kiss where they share a splinter of their soul with each other, permanently. It’s forbidden to share the Kiss before marriage vows but, of course, Strifbjorn and Mingan have shared it, so Strifbjorn has decided never to marry. However, Muire accidentally sees the lovers but keeps their secret.

Then, Strifbjorn finds an unconscious woman on the beach. He thinks that she’s a mortal and saves her. However, it turns out that the woman might be the goddess, the Lady, whose coming the Children of the Light have been expecting. If that’s true, she will be their leader in a coming war.

The story has three point of view characters: Muire is called “The Historian” in the headings. She’s small and meek for a waelcyrge, and she believes herself to be the least of her warrior sisters. However, others have noticed her capabilities. She can cast spells and is very loyal to Strifbjorn. She’s also the only one whom we see traveling among the mortals and avenging the dying. If she’s not entirely happy, she’s at least content with her life. She’s in love it the war leader but has always known that she can’t have him. Her story is told in a first person and past tense.

Mingan, the Grey Wolf, is the second POV character and his story is told in first person and present tense which emphasized the way that he lives in the moment. He’s older than the other Children of the Light but he doesn’t remember much about his past, at first. He wears a collar and feels very hot all the time. He loves Strifbjorn and understands why they must keep their affair a secret. He’s shorter than the einherjer but stronger and considered one of their best fighters. The others whisper that he has a demoness as a lover. Instead, Imogen is Mingan’s sister (in spirit if not in flesh). She feeds on misery and Mingan feels compelled to feed her when he can. The Imogen is not just a fighter; she’s a terrifying weapon whom only Mingan can wield. The Wolf has never felt at home in the mead hall so he lives with his wolf pack in the forest.

The third POV character is Strifbjorn who is written in third person. He’s honorable to a fault and is greatly troubled by the need to keep his affair a secret. He’s a leader first and always thinks how his actions will hurt or help other. Well, almost always. 😉

By The Mountain Bound is a tale of love, secrets, betrayals, and loyalty. It doesn’t really matter if you’ve read the first book or not. A lot of things are told here which aren’t made clear in All the Windwracked Stars and nothing depends on reading it first. In fact, reading this second book first is likely going to make reading the first book a richer experience because you know what has come before. If I had the time, I’d read the first book again.

The book is intense and well paced. However, there’s an air tragedy and sadness on it, especially if you’ve read the first book.

Edited to add: is the series SF or fantasy? Apparently, even the publisher can’t decide: the first book is labeled SF and the second fantasy. Hmh. I’d call this one epic fantasy but first one has enough technological gadgets that I’d call it SF. Of course, if you’re of the opinion that books which have magic, can’t be SF, then this is clearly fantasy.