A Meeting At Corvallis
S. M. Stirling
From the back of the book:
In the tenth year of the Change, the survivors in western Oregon live in a world without technology. Michael Havel's Bearkillers hold the lands west of Salem in peace and order. To the east, the Clan Mackenzie flourishes under the leadership of Juniper Mackenzie, bard and High Priestess.
Together they have held Norman Arminger - the warlord of Portland - at bay. With his dark fantasies of a neofeudal empire, Arminger rules much of the Pacific Northwest, spreading fear with his knights, castles and holy inquisition. Even more dangerous, and perhaps Arminger's most powerful weapon of all, is his ruthlessly cunning consort, Lady Sandra.
These factions haven't met in battle because Arminger's daughter has fallen into Clan Mackenzie's hands. But Lady Sandra has a plan to retriever her - even if it means plunging the entire region into open warfare....
One of the reviews on the back of the book calls A Meeting At Corvallis "a rousing finale to a strong trilogy" (Alternative Worlds) and although there are now two more books in the series, The Sunrise Lands, and Scourge Of God, there is definitely a sense that this book is the ending of one phase of the story. Where this book picks up almost immediately after the end of The Protector's War, I suspect that there will be a gap of several years before The Sunrise Lands starts.
The research Stirling has done for this book and series is impressive: medieval history and warfare, different weapons and the like, but also the Society for Creative Anacronism terminology and Sindarin. The books and authors mentioned in this series are, to the best of my knowledge, also all existing ones. That is just one example of the levels of detail Stirling has included, which I've enjoyed greatly. The author has included not just sights and sounds in his descriptions, but touch, taste and scent as well.
As with The Protector's War, Stirling has made mention of real, living people and people who only died recently as well. In this book it was Pope John Paul II and Cardinal Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict (I think), as well as Prince Charles. I'm not exactly sure how I feel about authors doing that. I don't know how frequently it happens, but I don't think I've seen any other authors doing so.
I've enjoyed reading the series to this point, and I'm looking forward to starting The Sunrise Lands, but I think I'm going to take a bit of a break first. A Meeting At Corvallis was over six hundred dense pages, and took the better part of the last several weeks to read. Some of the other books on my Unread Books List are calling my name, such as His Majesty's Dragon and Moon Called.
The Change series is (so far):
Dies The Fire
The Protector's War
A Meeting At Corvallis
The Sunrise Lands
Scourge Of God