Sunday, January 4, 2009

Dies The Fire - S. M. Stirling

Dies The Fire - S. M. StirlingDies The Fire
S. M. Stirling
ROC Publishing
Copyright: 2004

According to the back of the book:

The Change Occurred When An Electrical Storm centered over the island of Nantucket produced a blinding white flash that rendered all electrical devices and firearms inoperable - and plunged the world into a dark age humanity was unprepared to face....

Michel Havel was flying over Idaho en route to the holiday home of his passengers when the plane's engines inexplicably died, forcing a less than perfect landing in the wilderness. And as Michel leads his charges to safety, he begins to realize that the engine failure was not an isolated incident....

Juniper Mackenzie was singing and playing guitar in a pub when her small Oregon town was plunged into darkness. Cars refused to start. Phones were silent. And when an airliner crashed, no sirens sounded and no fire trucks arrived. Now, taking refuge in her family's cabin with her daughter and a growing circle of friends, Juniper is determined to create a farming community to benefit the survivors of this crisis....

But even as people band together to help one another, others are building armies for conquest.

Dies The Fire is a book that was recommended to me at work last week. I thought it was interesting, so I picked up the one copy on the shelf. I'm glad I did, as I've had a hard time putting it down, culminating in finishing it at one thirty this morning. I've already bought the sequel, The Protector's War.

As I mentioned, this is the first book in the series. The other books are, The Protector's War, A Meeting At Corvalis, The Sunrise Lands and Scourge of God. Whether that completes the series, or if there are more to come, I don't know.

I've seen some reviews which complain about how contrived the storyline is, with everyone having some needed skill, but that didn't affect my enjoyment of the book at all. It would have been interesting for one of the main or secondary characters to have not had a skill, and see how they muddled through, but the layout that Stirling created makes sense.

The characters are certainly an interesting bunch. Astrid, a Tolkien and fantasy novel lover, Juniper's daughter being deaf, Will Hutton and his horses. The book is full of quirky and interesting characters.

For a fantasy and science fiction lover, there's a bit of a game of 'recognize that reference'. Tolkien of course is a big one, but there are also mentions of Mercedes Lackey's books as well as some classic science fiction series.

There is a slight element of magic as well, but it's not made explicit whether it's simply coincidence or something else, although the implications are there, and it helps set things up for the next book. The question is, in my mind at least, is this something that worked before the Change, and was simply made more obvious, or something else that changed along with the inability of mechanical things to work?

I was rather surprised by how much I enjoyed this book, as I tried, but couldn't finish The Peshwar Lancers about a year or so ago, and I didn't think too much of the coauthored books of the Ship series, written with Anne McCaffrey.

All the historical details Stirling added were another nice touch to this book, and the bits and pieces of history he's chosen to have his characters resurrect make sense, although it seems a bit that every character (at least on the side of the good guys) knows his or her history as a hobby if not at the university level.

Although the book store categorizes this book as science fiction, to me it is just as much a fantasy novel.

One other question I felt Dies the Fire raised for me is "How well would I do in a situation like that?" All I can come up with is "not very well". Read the book and ask yourself the same questions.

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