Rodney Wilder, September 22, 2014 (view all comments by Rodney Wilder)
Visually lush, but conceptually ranges from silly to farcical. There is something infectiously fun in the tribal warmth of its characters, as clans Bearkiller and Mackenzie form their new civilizations. It is beautiful and fun to see, but the suspension of disbelief is hard to maintain in the way these characters think and the unrealistic prevalence of ideologies. More specifically, the way characters are either Wiccan or eventually will be. This isn't a conscious selection of Wiccans; it is a purportedly random jumble of characters who, coincidentally, all are either Wiccans or have so little preexisting religion that they quickly adopt a Wiccan belief system for reasons ranging from peer pressure to nothing. I don't find fault in a book centered around the Wiccan belief system and culture; it is the laziness in justifying the belief systems prevalence that leaves me unsatisfied. This would go for any belief system. There need to be reasons for every aspect of a story, and the pacific northwest is religiously diverse certainly, but not enough to make this a convincing story. Telling the reader something is such-a-way and telling them to believe it 'just because' is lazy writing.
That massive rant aside, I enjoyed the book but don't feel there is enough of a focus to its narrative to keep me reading the series. Even within this book the story meandered too much, didn't feel to have an actual consistent narrative arc. I expect the series to wander in like fashion, and poetic imagery isn't enough to earn my readership.
homeygdog, April 9, 2014 (view all comments by homeygdog)
Dear Reader's, I thought I'd read all the End of the World, books. I missed this one, but Powell's came through with Geek Week. This one was a page turner. I won't comment on the storyline, because 15 other people did a better job than I could.
It's the first book in a series, but it's a self-contained story; it doesn't end on a cliffhanger or anything. One day out of the blue, there's a flash of white light and everything mechanical stops working all at once. Not only that, but guns and steam engines don't work anymore either. Gunpowder just barely fizzles and no matter what you do, the steam never builds up enough pressure to get the engine going. No one knows why and most people are too busy focused on their immediate survival to really investigate that.
The book follows two groups of people. One group is started by a former Marine turned charter pilot who's flying a family called the Larssons to their ranch in Montana when the Change hits and their plane crashes into a river in northern Idaho. They pick up more people along the way and end up in this big nomadic wagon train heading west trying to make it to the Larssons' other property in Oregon. The other group is started by a Wiccan folk singer and her friends who head up to her land way out in the boonies (also in Oregon) and set up a homestead there, where they also end up taking in a bunch of stragglers. Eventually, these two storylines interweave. The book mostly focuses on people trying to adjust to this crazy situation they've all suddenly found themselves in and trying to carve out a little safety.
The characters are unique and interesting and you really care about them, the breakdown of society (and the disparate attempts to rebuild some other kinds of local societies) are believable and detailed. It's fascinating and I can't wait to read the next book!
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dkwilley, August 4, 2012 (view all comments by dkwilley)
This series sucked me right in. I love post-apocalyptic stories and this is EASILY one of the best I've read. and a plus for those of us that shop at the brick-and-mortar Powell's - it's set mostly in the Willamette Valley. really great series, anxiously awaiting the last 2 (?) !!!
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A Tolkien-obsessed pre-teen, a pilot, a Wiccan priestess, the Eaters (nope, no hints), and the Protector: all come together in the aftermath of an event not unlike a massive electromagnetic pulse, which has caused a complete failure of all technology. Some are simply interested in surviving; others want to dominate and rule, and not in a nice way. For me, a firm believer that the zombie war is nearly upon us, Dies the Fire sparked such interest that I couldn't put it down it even started some serious debates in my house and inspired my husband to research the art of bow making! Thanks to S. M. Stirling, I feel a little more comfortable with the idea of a post-apocalyptic situation, even maybe a little excited about it.
by Heidi Mager
Before we were glued to the set watching The Walking Dead and Revolution, S. M. Stirling wrote about what would happen in the Pacific Northwest after technology dies, the last supermarket has been looted, and the government collapses. Dies the Fire sweeps away the zombies and gets to the really interesting part: How would we survive if civilization collapsed? You can't help but imagine whether you'd take up a sword, grab a bicycle, or sow seeds after the apocalypse. Part homesteading, part medieval fiefdom, and part wilderness survival, this story's long arc holds everything together with a little romance and enough gore to keep things interesting.
"Publishers Weekly Review"
by Publishers Weekly,
"Stirling shows that while our technology influences the means by which we live, it is the myths we believe in that determine how we live. The novel's dual themes — myth and technology — should appeal to both fantasy and hard SF readers as well as to techno-thriller fans." Publishers Weekly
by Library Journal,
"[A] stunning speculative vision of a near-future bereft of modern conveniences."
"[An] intriguing what-if about modern humans denied their treasured conveniences."
An electrical storm over the island of Nantucket causes all electrical devices in the United States to cease function. But even as some people band together to help one another, others are building armies for conquest.
Rudi Mackenzie has traveled from the land where the sun sets to the land where it rises and back. He has found his weapon—the Sword crafted for him before he was born. He has made friends from among his enemies and found enemies where he expected friends. He has won the heart and hand of the woman he has loved his entire life.
Now Rudi is Artos, the High King of Montival, and his final destiny awaits him. He must face and defeat the forces of the Church Universal and Triumphant. Everything in the present, everything in the future, depends on the outcome of the conflict.
And like his father before him, Rudi knows that in winning the war he might well lose his life...
The Change occurred when an electrical storm centered over the island of Nantucket produced a blinding white flash that rendered all electronic devices and fuels inoperable. What follows is the most terrible global catastrophe in the history of the human race-and a Dark Age more universal and complete than could possibly be imagined.
"Dies the Fire kept me reading till five in the morning so I could finish at one great gulp..."—New York Times bestselling author Harry Turtledove
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