Friday, September 25, 2009

Against The Tide Of Years - S. M. Stirling

Against The Tide Of Years
S. M. Stirling
Copyright Date: 1999

The back cover blurb:
In the years since the Event, the Republic of Nantucket has done its best to recreate the better ideas of the modern age. But the evils of its time resurface in the person of William Walker, renegade Coast Guard officer, who is busy building an empire for himself based on conquest by technology. When Walker reaches Greece and recruits several of their greater kinglets to his cause, the people of Nantucket have no choice. If they are to save the primitive world from being plunged into bloodshed on a twentieth-century scale, they must defeat walker at his own game: war.

Against The Tide Of Years is the sequel to Island in the Sea of Time, in which the island of Nantucket is somehow dropped from the twentieth century into about the twelfth century BCE. Where the first book details the early years and the expedition to Britain (or Alba, as it's called in the period), this book brings in the Mycenaeans and the Babylonians.

Some of the familiar characters named this time are Agamemnon, Iphegenia, Odysseus etc. Of course, the names are spelled quite differently, but it's possible to pick them out, and the Nantucketers certainly know who they are.

There's lots of familiar ancient history, just shifted a bit by the influence of the Nantucketers. That's one of the things I'm finding that I really love about the series: the historical detail.

One thing I've noticed about S.M. Stirling's books, and no this is definitely not a complaint, is that they take longer than you'd think to read. Dense, small type, and close set pages with lots of story, events and detail. This may be a series, but I'm finding that the books are best spaced out a bit with other reading in between. But, that's not affecting the reading, as I'm not finding myself to be too lost by the break.

Stirling fills these books with lots of detail: explanations of the adaptations of technology, scenery, climate etc. It all builds into the story to make a well written whole. As a lover of ancient and classical history, one of the things I like about Stirling's Nantucket trilogy is being able to go "I recognize that!" when the characters run into a place, person or culture.

I will note that Against The Tide of Years is a middle book. The story leaves plenty unresolved for the third book: On The Ocean Of Eternity.

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