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Publisher's Summary

In 17th-century France, Louis XIV rules with flamboyant ambition, yet the Sun King's appetite for glory knows no bounds. In a bold stroke, he sends his natural philosopher on an expedition to seek the source of immortality, a rare, perhaps mythical, sea monster.

When Father Yves de la Croix returns with the shrieking creature with the gargoyle face, Marie-Josèphe de la Croix looks forward to assisting her brother in his scientific experiment. But struck by the creature's gaze and exquisite singing, Marie-Josèphe finds herself contemplating actions that would defy every institution in her life: king, country, church, and even family. Somehow, she must find the courage to follow her heart and her convictions, even at the cost of changing her life forever.

©1979 Vonda N. McIntyre (P)1999 Blackstone Audio, Inc.

Critic Reviews

  • Nebula Award Winner, Best Novel, 1997

"A dazzling and spirited evocation of the passions, intrigues, and preconceptions of the age, along with a dandy pair of misfit, star-crossed lovers: an enchanting slice of what-if historical speculation." (Kirkus Reviews)
"A wonderful book! Adventure, love, history, magic - it's an engrossing story with magnificent characters, balanced perfectly on the edge between enchantment and belief." (Diana Gabaldon)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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Sort by:
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Kim
  • Brush, CO, USA
  • 01-07-10

Compelling historical romantic fantasy

Vonda McIntyre has long been known for her detailed, believable settings, and her strong, human characters. She doesn't disappoint in this narrative set in the court of Louis XIV of France, involving Vatican intrigue, the collision of superstition and science, a vanishing race of merpeople, and a grand romance. The hero, Marie-Josef (sp?) will rock your socks as she struggles against religious and political mysogyny. Five stars.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars

Masterfully Creative

Whom woulda thunk it? Sci-fi genre mates with historical novel/romance and this is what is born. AH but she's weird & she's wonderful!

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Kevin
  • Herndon, VA, United States
  • 11-21-13

Odd Mix of Fantasy and History

I am not sure why this won a Nebula Award - it has nothing to do with Sci-Fi. It is an interesting story about humans who live in the water - mermaids. It takes place around the 1600s in our time, but with a twist regarding the mermaids. It has the catholic church (the Pope is the King's Cousin), woman in there place (barefoot and pregnant - well at least quite and permissive), the King's Court, and a disturbing story about the mermaid. The story kept me pretty irritated - did a very good job of portraying gender roles of the time.

The performance is excellent and well read. Worth the listen.

2 of 6 people found this review helpful