Earth has sent out exploratory expeditions in a desperate attempt to discover the nature of the alien force that wiped out at least one extrasolar civilization and now threatens Earth itself. One of the exploratory starships is stealth-attacked by the hostile aliens. The survivors, marooned among the pre-technological inhabitants of the icy world of Windhome, struggle to survive, to understand this harsh world and its few, grim people—and, somehow, to fulfill their mission. Thrown into an unwilling alliance with a Windhome outsider faction, exiled into wilderness, two of the human crew must live by this world's bitter laws, accept the ways of its people—and eventually make a terrifying choice.
Windhome by Kristin Landon, author of the Hidden Worlds trilogy, is The Left Hand of Darkness meets Black Robe with a soupçon of Alien. Shadowy aliens are destroying the technology of sentients who have attained space travel capabilities. The surviving crew of an exploratory Earth starship find themselves marooned among the inhabitants of the icy world of Windhome, also devastated by the destroyers. The humans' precarious survival makes it almost impossible to fulfill their mission. Thrown into an unwilling alliance with a Windhome outsider faction, exiled into wilderness, two of the human crew must live by this world's bitter laws, accept the ways of its people—and eventually make a terrifying choice. – Athena Andreadis
"After an eight-year hiatus, Landon (The Dark Reaches) returns with a complex fourth novel that combines dystopian and first-contact themes. // This is a quiet, tense book, saturated with dread."– Publishers Weekly
"This striking tale of survival and fortitude in an icy, alien world by the author of the "Hidden Worlds" trilogy is recommended for readers who enjoy character-driven stories."– Kristi Chadwick, Library Journal
"…Landon's worldbuilding skills shine. While the action is strictly between the humans and the natives, the setting is easy to envision and believe…// Overall, this isn't a necessarily happy story, but it is satisfying and leaves wide the possibilities for the next book."– Karen Sweeny-Justice, Romance Times
"[A]bove and beyond the aliens as a species, it is the relations and personalities and personality conflicts that really drive the novel and propel a reader to continue the narrative. As fully fleshed out as their human counterparts, the aliens of the book come alive as they react to and have to deal with the sudden appearance of three people from the sky. . . . Although a comparison to Ursula K. Le Guin is obvious, I really think it's Eleanor Arnason, with her Ring of Swords and A Woman of the Iron People, that Landon's work most resembles in my reading oeuvre. It is a corner of Space Opera that is not quite as explored as it could be, and for me, Windhome is a welcome addition to it."– Paul Weimer, Skiffy & Fanty
Only here, on all of Windhome, was music studied as an art. Here the crowds were smaller, but they stood in silence to listen. The music troubled Pierre. The men's deep, warm voices shaped long, curving branches of melody over a firm ground. It was music potent with mystery, heavy with the considered grief of years. The strange scale, like and yet unlike any music of Earth—the sense of searching, searching, for a center, for return, and just as it seemed the music might come to rest there, the voices would fade....
Pierre knew what he was hearing in that music, and behind that music. He could not allow the dark, ravenous longing for home to begin again. Yet the memories came: The songs and dances in his village, handed down from generation to generation on the fringe of the Covenant world. The singing in the church at Christmas. And at last, his own son's face, pinched with distress—Why are you going away? Was I bad? Pierre knotted his hands together, gripped until the bones hurt.
He could not allow himself to remember that now. He straightened, stood firm, watching Kelru's tall figure moving through the crowd, always looking down. And still he listened to the music. The words were simpler than the harmonies that carried them. Perhaps if he concentrated on the words— The singers' faces were intent, disciplined. Over those mountains is my home, they sang. In this broad valley is the land where I will die. Worldwind, carry my ashes high. Carry them higher than those mountains, O wind.
Pierre's breath caught in his throat and he looked up, up at the stars, which trembled at first, trembled and then stilled as he won his battle yet again. Thousands of stars burned there, a bitter glory. He had never seen such stars in the dusty skies of Earth. Here the night was a flawless emptiness between himself and infinity. He stood exposed on the backbone of an alien world, waiting for death to find him. To find them all.