Actually, I feel kind of ranty about the book It is such an archtypical tale, an Aesop s fable with details lots and lots of details but no originality, no finesse in characterization or plotting that it is really quite predictable Start with the characters it centers around two people, Michael Havel, archangel, ultimate Male, former Marine, bush pilot, hunter, survivalist, and Juniper Mackenzie, Mother Earth, ultimate female, Wiccan, musician, Renaissance Faire player and general people person Their backstories are somewhat fuzzy, except when providing an explanation for their skills and resources While they have some dimension to their personalities, in the sense of having hopes, fears, anger and determination, they are essentially ideal role models, both in terms of community leadership and in coping with disaster Continued at wordpress and Booklikes Due to Goodreads being generally reluctant to engage in a policy of customer service and only recently re opening dialogue about their deletion policy 3 months after it was implemented in draconian fashion , as always, ranting and review permanently displayed at I read this for two reasons One, because it seemed like the true G David Drake thought well enough of SM Stirling to co write The General series with him Since then, I ve come to the conclusion that that pairing must have been something the publisher pushed at Drake with a nice deal Apparently, judging by the reviews here, Stirling s books have a fanatical following reminiscent of Twilight Except, instead of terrible vampire books, he writes awful speculative historical scifi Which brings me to the second reason I read this book I ve always loved crappy scifi and fantasy To give you some background, the first actual novel I read as a kid was a Piers Anthony turd But I think this book is so bad that it has finally made me stop carrying the torch for trashy scifi Which makes me kind of hate Dies the Fire Anyway, here s the book s premise, because that s all it s got going for it Imagine you re driving your car around town and suddenly, your engine stops running Your watch stops Planes are falling from the sky Your local steam driven locomotive can t get enough pressure You try to shoot an attacking accountant he s been instantly driven to screaming cannibalism, of course , but your gun won t even fire But it s cool if all this stuff just happens, and society goes back to the medieval times for whatever unexplained reason It s not only cool, but great, because you are a dedicated member of the Society for Combat Anachronism SCA , meaning you swing padded sticks around like in the movie Role Models You re also great looking and charismatic And an athlete on the level of LeBron James In short, you re Sterling s idea of the average SCA member And you ve been dreaming of the day you can take your rightful place So you get your trusty hand and a half sword, your targe you know what these things are and full chain mail suit, and you re ready to take your rightful place With your skills and kit, you can easily take on and kill 4 similarly armed cops simultaneously to impress local gangbangers You can go on to conquer your local mundanes and remake them in the image of 1500 s France, a medieval Scottish clan of Wiccans, or a group from the Lord of the Rings I m not joking These things are actual events in the book Sterling actually expects the reader to swallow all this Uk I didn t like this book and didn t find it believable at all Maybe it s because I live in Portland, but I gave up after the scene where the bad guy takes over the public library and makes it his palace complete with willing nubile slave girls after just a few weeks Sorry, the massive lesbian population here would have had that dude strung up on a lamp post in nano seconds and that before we even consider adding the adding all the feminists and hard core religious zelots into the mix.
Also, the author didn t give me enough psuedo science to make the effects of the flash believable Just a flash and then no reason as to why it disables electricity and combustion It just does Finally, I very quickly got sick of all the goody pagens romping around saying Oh Godess this and Oh Godess that and Oh look, isn t if convienent there all the clever pagans just happen to have swords, battle axes, draft horses and wagons to go with them We re such smart good pagans It made the book read like some tedious Wiccian version of bad Christian fiction.
It s been a really long time since I first picked up this book, enticed by the cover art and plot summary on the back I don t remember exactly how far I got in relation to how much was left to read although I do remember what caused me to put the book down for the final time, I ll get to that later but I ll give my opinion on what I gathered from the way things were going The essence of this story is just a catchy premise, stretched painfully to cover an entire novel I usually see this kind of thing in terrible comedies or half baked thrillers, where the director author has obviously come up with an interesting pitch, but little else In this case, the premise is that some inexplicable phenomena has rendered two hundred years of technology useless not an EMP, because even guns and combustion engines no longer work As I read, I began to get a sinking feeling that this phenomena would never be rationalized or explained, as the only thing that could possibly do so would have to be Divine Intervention and when you re writing a novel, that s cheating as far as I m concerned.
M Stirling has his gimmick modern people forced to survive with Dark Age technology And that wouldn t be so bad, whether he reveals the nature of the Change or not I can deal with an absurd premise if the rest of the story is well crafted In short, it s not If that doesn t convince you, then read on.
The first of two main characters is a bland ex military dude, indistinguishable from all the other ex military main characters among countless works of fiction He s flying a stereotypical yuppie family in a small private plane when the Change happens, and after they crash, the expected bonding occurs between the helpless rich people and their new protector He teaches the impressionable son manly things like hunting and knife fighting, and he has a love interest in the spoiled nubile daughter Nothing to see here.
The second is slightly interesting, but that s mostly because she s so ridiculous A Wiccan Renaissance Faire devotee who happens to hang out exclusively with people who own real swords and battle axes, nobody would be better prepared for a return to the dark ages, right Unfortunately, yes, which brings me to wonder how owning a clay and sparring for tourists would actually give you the skills necessary to survive something like the Change Of course, I don t know much about Wiccans, and maybe most of their practices really would help with farming techniques and whatnot, but I doubt real Wiccans feel the need to patronizingly shout corny, lengthy oaths whenever possible I didn t get much farther on her segment of the story, because I then came upon the final straw in this hard to swallow yarn.
If this sounds plausible to you, then I ve been wasting your time with my review a Portland based neo feudal dictatorship created by a sociopathic history professor This is from Stirling s Wikipedia article, I m not exaggerating The main antagonist of the book is a history professor, whose justification for taking over the bloodthirsty criminals of Portland is that he knows about swords and maces than, say, a burly Hell s Angel with a crowbar I don t know many history professors personally, but academia doesn t attract the kind of people who can slaughter four attackers at once just by reading about it And yes, this history professor slaughters four attackers at once with a sword That was the point where I put the book down and never went back.
I could talk about how boring the writing was I found myself skimming by accident, moving my eyes across the lines without taking any of it in but this part of the art form is purely subjective, and what I found to be uninspired might interest you But it s hard to accept the plot s execution, which I ve heard described accurately as a Renaissance Faire nerd s fantasy Without picking up the book again, that s all I can really say about it, and since the mere thought of doing so is unappealing, then that should tell you all you need to know.
I ve actually traded this book in without finishing it I ll keep what review I had read up, though.
I ve been reading this book, the first of a series, for a while and, well, we just haven t hit it off Usually, I m really interested in post Apocalyptic, sociological books The Stand and The Postman are both favorites The books in the Dresden Files are ones that I can t put down, but Dies the Fire is one of those that it s hard to pick back up I ve been taking it with me to doctor appointments and when I m somewhere waiting for something I don t know what it is about the book that just hasn t caught my interest It doesn t suffer from having too many groups of characters to follow The Stand certainly had this problem The best guess I have right now is that there just isn t that much conflict I m half way through right now and, while some inter group conflicts have been happening, the characters seem to luck out and find people who know how to make bows from raw, natural materials, know how to swordfight, can make armor, etc.
The one main character, Juniper, is a Wiccan, which I don t have a problem with However, she s constantly praising the Lord and Lady, making religious symbols in the air, etc.
, like a Wiccan version of a devout Catholic It s a little annoying and it would have been just as annoying if the character was Christian.
I won t be buying the other books in the series, unless something really outstanding happens in the remaining 280 pages.
One day in March, the world turns white and every person experiences a searing pain After this brief flash, modern technology no longer works No electricity, no firearms, not even gun powder works as it used to Our modern civilization is thrust back to medieval technology, precipitating a catastrophe where most of humanity dies The survivors, though, have to figure out how to live in this new world as civilization collapses We don t get a primitivist s utopia, however, but a competently written account of various groups of people adapting to this new world This is genre fiction fantasy mixed with SF and one might say historical fiction though it occurs in the present , which is to say that character development isn t too deep and the writing isn t literary quality But who cares about that stuff when faced with such an intriguing premise Juniper is a singer and a Wiccan who uses her Celtic background a a stage prop for her show Along with her deaf daughter and pal who runs a pub in Corvallis, she realizes what the Change means and sets out for her cabin nestled at the base of the Cascade mountains Here, with other survivors, including most of her Wiccan group, they attempt to organize to survive the Change and the coming winter by farming and manage to re create a clan based society Meanwhile, ex Marine Mike Havel is flying a family of rich Portlanders to their Montana cabin when the Change happens, dropping their plane out of the sky After they survive this, they make their way west, to the old Larsson homestead north of Corvallis And still meanwhile, Norman Arminger declares himself Lord Protector of Portland as he utilizes his knowledge of medieval Europe he was a professor to unite various gangs and his old SCA buddies to create a new feudal system in Portland I didn t want to stop reading as this is all fascinating stuff what will happen when civilization collapses What do we do for food eat each other happens , for transportation, to protect ourselves, to survive More importantly, with the fall of civilization, we lose our consumeristic belief systems and our civilizational myths What will replace them hint someone has read too many Tolkein books, and it is a character, not the author The second volume, The Protector s War, isn t as gripping as it details survival Change Year 8 Book three, A Meeting at Corvallis, is much better Like my friend Jesse said, this wouldn t be as good if it weren t set in Oregon, where we live, but I think it is worthwhile to read Exciting adventure and fascinating speculation on what stories will guide us when our current reality fails My biggest complaint is that Eugene instantly descends into destruction and is given up as loss This happened in that other post apocalyptic novel The Postman What gives with everyone giving up on Eugene so quickly Like we don t have any fight in us
This book made me hate reading It took me a month to get over the trauma that this self indulgent arrogant waste paper induced Sterling s lack of subtlety is developing his characters was only surpassed by his amazing ability to make me disaccoiate myself with his heroes within two pages Amazingly convenient coincidences occur often than in the Hitchhiker books, but at least Adams had the good grace to blame it on an improbability drive instead of just passing it off as the norm.
I loved the premise of this novel, but had a lot of problems with the execution Well, mostly one problem the middle of the book crawls.
The book starts off in contemporary West Coast America, following two characters a pilot and a Ren Faire musician on a normal day, when The Change happens This shoots the story right into action, as the characters have to immediately adjust and survive in a world where electricity no longer works The first third of the book is compelling reading, I finished that much in a single night However, at this point, right about the point I started thinking this was going to be on par with The Stand, the story grinds to a halt The second third of the novel is spent explaining exactly how the characters trade goods in a world without money, how they harvest crops without machinery, and how they avoid plague and other disease In theory, it is all very interesting, but in practice, it is very dull I struggled to get through it at all Fortunately, the story does pick back up, and the final third is action packed and exciting All in all, it was not a terrible read, but the uneven pacing and overly detailed filler killed any chance I had at truly enjoying the potentially interesting story behind it.