Sunday, January 25, 2009

The Protector's War - S. M. Stirling

The Protector's War - S. M. StirlingThe Protector's War
S. M. Stirling
Copyright: 2006

According to the back of the book:

It's been eight years since the Change rendered technology inoperable across the globe. Rising from the ashes fo the computer and industrial ages is a brave new world. Survivors have banded together in tribal communities, committed to rebuilding society. In Oregon's Willamette Valley, former pilot Michael Havel's Bearkillers are warriors of renown. Their closest ally, the mystical Clan Mackenzie, is lead by Wiccan folksinger Juniper Makenzie. Their leadership has saved countless lives.

But not every leader has altruistic aspirations. Norman Arminger, medieval scholar, rules the Protectorate. He has enslaved civilians, built an army, and spread his forces from Portland through most of western Washington State. Now he wants the Willamette Valley farmland, and he's willing to wage war to conquer it.

And unknown to both factions is the imminent arrival of a ship from Tasmania bearing British soldiers...

Some of my recollections on this book are a bit sketchy, as I put it down in the middle for a couple of weeks while I finished reading the Adept series. However, I did enjoy reading it a lot none the less. I still wouldn't exactly class this series as science fiction, either, even less so now than in the first book. It's kind of heading towards fantasy instead.

The Protector's War is the second of five books in this series (so far). The first was Dies The Fire, and the next book is A Meeting At Corvallis, followed by The Sunrise Lands and The Scourge of God (currently still in hardcover only). Some people say that the three books: Island In The Sea Of Time, Against The Tide Of Years, and On The Oceans Of Eternity are also part of this world. Not having read them yet, I can't say either way.

The jump from the end of Dies The Fire, the first book in this series to this one was probably a good idea, but I'd have liked to know more about how they made out in those first couple of years, for example the first winter, watching the survivors among Havel's people and the Mackenizies rediscover the ancient crafts.

I can't think of another novel in which real people alive today play a role, but the British Prince Charles is a figure lurking in the background of The Protector's War, although we never actually see him. I'm not too sure I'm comfortable with that, partly because it's not a very favorable portrayal.

Not all of the issues from this book or the previous one are resolved by the end, leaving plenty for A Meeting At Corvallis, not to mention all of the new problems that can be brought up in that one and the next ones after that.

There's still the familiarity with Tolkien and other fantasy novels running through this book. I like that, being a Tolkien fan myself. On the other hand, the number of signed first edition copies of The Lord of the Rings wandering around in the world is a bit much. In fact, that was my reaction when the first set was brought out in Dies The Fire. The set described was just a bit too perfect, if you know what I mean.

Reading this book made me even more certain that this is a world that I probably wouldn't have survived long in. Perhaps now that things are improving, but I wouldn't have made it long enough to get to that point.

If you like books by Turtledove or any other alternate historian, I'd recommend giving these books a try.

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