Juniper Mackenzie was singing and playing guitar in a pub when her small Oregon town was thrust 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.
©2004 Stirling; (P)2008 Tantor
"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)
I bought this book because I thought, from the description, that it would be an interesting exploration of a fascinating concept. By the 3rd chapter, it was clear that the premise of the story was nothing more than a vehicle for the author to pen a "Ren Fare" fantasy of how the earth would devolve into a huge live action D&D game after the event. From the celtic mythology, the mother earth stuff and the Lord of the Rings references; the author is clearly in love with the world of knights, dark lords, swordcraft, witches and wizardry. I don't mind that stuff--and the book seems passable in that regard--but to describe it as less than a forum contrived for the purpose of telling such a tale is less than honest. I became so disappointed at being "tricked" into buying it by a much broader description of its subject that I'm now too annoyed to finish it. Even the D&D world jargon is too much. I wich the author had woven a few of these elemnts into a broader and more interesting story rather than making this fanatsy element the focus of the book. At the very least, the publisher and Audible should have said more about what it was really about. Do the reviewers even read these things beyond chapter 2...?
Several reviewers have complained about the pagan aspects of this novel, I'm not a pagan myself and found it a little boring at times, but in my opinion it fits the storyline well. The kind of people who are likely to prosper in a world where guns, electricity, and combustion engines suddenly stop working are the people who spent a lot of time doing things like horse riding, gardening, and mock fighting with medieval weapons. The pagan community is full of those kinds of people, so having a major story arc in the novel following a pagan group of people makes sense.
What the people complaining about the pagans fail to mention is the other major story arc following a group of people who are lead by an ex-military type who spends a lot of time doing things like hunting & hiking in the wilderness.
So, if your afraid that your Higher Being of choice is going to punish you for reading a book with such words as pagan, wiccan, goddess and witch in it, then you should stay away from this book. Otherwise, you just have to remember that you spend as much time listening to the thoughts of the jarhead which are as full of militaristic thoughts as the witches' mind is full of pagan thoughts. The author is not trying to convince you to become a pagan any more than he is trying to convince you to join the army. He's just doing a pretty good job of getting inside the head of a pagan and an ex-jarhead.
Dies the Fire goes through the usual paces in an end-of-the-world novel: civilization collapses, there is much confusion and rioting, a few lucky/prepared ones are situated such that they don't starve while all the city-dwellers run out of food, there's a massive die-off, and then the most organized, ambitious, and/or ruthless are setting up fiefdoms.
The gimmick here is that "the Change" that causes the end of civilization literally changes the laws of physics. Gunpowder, internal combustion, and electricity simply stops working. The world is literally knocked back into the middle ages technologically. This device is an excuse to write an SCAer's fantasy: those folks in the Society for Creative Anachronism who spent time dressing up in plate armor and whacking each other with rattan swords are suddenly among the only ones with actual useful combat skills, now that guns no longer work. Sterling takes that ball and runs with it: the chief villain, who takes over Portland, Oregon, "the Protector," is a former history professor and an SCA member who uses his combat skills and knowledge of medieval history to immediately begin recreating his favorite period of history with himself in charge.
Michael Havel, military veteran and former pilot, becomes a warlord of sorts, quickly leveling up as the mercenary commander of the "Bear-Killers," with assistance from a teenage girl Tolkien-nerd who conveniently enough also practiced archery as a hobby.
As a gimmick, it's interesting and fun to see the survivors literally rediscovering medieval tactics out of necessity. "The Change" is never explained, though the characters speculate that aliens did it. It does become a bit much when witches (the wiccan kind, not the actual magic-using kind) form the basis for a large survival community, apparently because they're better able to organize and survive in a pre-industrial world. Juniper, the leader of the coven, who becomes High Priestess and "Lady Juniper," is constantly spouting "Blessed Be" and "Lord and Lady!"
Dies the Fire is not much of an actual survivalist story; there is discussion of how the survivors have to reimplement medieval technology and spend a lot of time getting agriculture going again the hard way, but most of the action is the battles against various bandit gangs and warlords.
Will be interesting to see if the author actually makes aliens responsible in the next book.
I purchased this book because I found the premise to be quite intriguing: survival in a post-technological age. However, I soon became so irritated with Stirling’s chosen vehicle for telling the story I wanted to through my iPod out the car window!
How is it possible to have a native Oregonian (from Portland no less) be fluent in Gaelic and have a fully developed Scots-Irish twang? Doubtful, but OK, the whole story’s a stretch. But to make things worse, she and her followers soon have a fully developed (within three to five months) pagan culture complete with “Merry meet and merry part and merry meet again!” and “Goddess of the harvest, field, wood and/or toad” sprinkled through every conversation. Agh! If I ever have to hear that “Merry meet” phrase again I think I’ll through up.
There is a male protagonist whose story is more interesting. But he too makes suspending disbelief impossible when he organizes a successful assault on a fort by landing hang gliders on a tower at night with people who’ve never flown gliders before. That lost it for me. Use your credits on something else.
This story falls between the cracks for me, I did enjoy it, but I'm not sure it's believable. Some of the main characters came to the correct decisions very, very fast, I'm sure there would have been much more confusion surrounding the circumstances that the story builds on. Second the breakdown of civil behavior was much too rapid to be believed, even if we use Katrina, and New Orleans as our example it was not so total and complete barbaric dark ages murder, rape, and pillage on day one! I think many will like the story, but others certainly will not. This is one you might just have to take a chance on. Good Luck and If you buy it I hope you enjoy it, I did.
I downloaded this title in spite of the numerous reviews claiming that it is like Dungeons & Dragons and Renaissance Fairs. Some of the characters are involved with "ren-fairs" (which is a phrase from the author/characters). As far as "D&D lingo" or any other similarity to the game I'm lost. Unless you consider calling weapons by their actual names rather than a dumbed down description to be like D&D. I would say to ignore those reviews citing either of those as a description of this story.
Others have complained about decisions being made too quickly or society breaking down too rapidly as being unrealistic. It is FICTION!! Although the author could have dragged out things and then it would have been called "too slow and not enough happening."
It is a good story and serves the purpose of being entetaining. Although I do get annoyed at the author's repeated use of some words or phrases it doesn't hurt the story. The reader is good but not exceptional.
The story is not realistic within its framework.
No. I could not get emotionally involved with these characters.
Yes, he used different voices and some accents.
It was not quite what I was looking for.
If you are looking for a fantasy novel set in a middle-ages type setting, it is the book for you. If you are looking for post-apocalyptic, you would be well advised to look elsewhere.
I couldn't get past the cliches in the first couple of hours. The stupid fake Irish accent of the woman, the idiotic idea of the girls being clad in period costume with bows and arrows... ohhhh my brain. It's like Gilligan's Island meets Dungeons and Dragons. It's awful.
For me the story being told is critical, but with audiobooks, the narration is just as important. With S.M. Stirling enthralling series about what happens when the world is thrown into 'The Change,' complimented by the topnotch narration of Todd McLaren, you get the best of both worlds. I've listened to the first 2 books of this series and I can't wait to download the third next month!
This a well written and well read story about a change in the way we would live if the toys were taken away. This a captivating read and made the family trip from Missouri to Utah fly by. It is a bit of the Renfest or D&D adventure but if the lights go out that is the path that you would travel down. Good strory and I hope Audible picks up the series.
"Good but jumpy"
I enjoyed the story and the narrator is very good however there are quiet a few times that it suddenly jumps forward or to another part of the story line with no particular pause or change of chapter. I'm not sure if it is the way it is written or the way it has been edited but for a few moments you are left wondering what has happened. Apart for that it was very good and if it hadn't been for that I would have given it 5 stars.
Very well written and well read good, exiting story. It also made you think. Definitely worth to listen to also for the reader's voice.
Self-indulgent fantasy for middle-aged male Renaissance Faire enthusiasts who enjoy dabbling in racism and misogyny. None of the characters were believable--not one. There is too much luck bestowed upon the protagonists for it to be even marginally believable. Need to make some bows? Oh, how convenient. Here's a random person who knows how to do so, and he wants to join up with you!
Sometimes, a bad book can be made less painful for me with a good narrator. This one was horrible. Not only did he butcher every accent he attempted, he didn't even pronounce several place names in Oregon correctly. "Corvallis" was repeated again and again, and every time he said it wrong. Not content with butchering place names on one continent, he also made me cringe with his attempt at saying "Edinburgh."
"How to spoil a story"
No. The narrator obviously doesn't know when to pause for paragraphs etc. Book was spoilt by having to second guess which part of the story he was reading.
Similar theme to many post-apocalyptic novels
There was no pause for paragraphs, changes of scene etc which spoilt the novel for me. His voice was fine but it became annoying to second guess where in the story we were at. I am not talking even slight pauses, but straight from one sentence into another which bore no resemblance to the thread of that particular part of the story. In a novel that is following 2 or 3 different threads that is not good enough.
Novel spoilt by lack of basic punctuation rules.
I don't know whether it was the book, the narrator or me, but I just didn't engage with it. I found myself going through the motions of putting the earphones in and turning it on without really listening or taking anything in . After a while I just decided to get another book. The characters didn't stick with me and the book seems to jump around quite a lot. Nothing particularly wrong with the narrator - just not the gripping stuff I want to listen to! love the genre and I tell myself I will come back to the book in a few weeks/months, but I know I wont.
"Good story but butchering of accents!"
I enjoyed this story well enough but was really distracted by the poor attempts at accents by the narrator. If you are Irish or are familure with the accent (& to a lesser extent the English & Aussie accents), I might suggest buying this book to read. Plus the woeful attempts at the Irish language in places (some of it may have been Scots Gaelic, but who's to know!) were indecipherable & made me wince every time. The latter might not bother too many people but be warned if it could... A shame, as I missed most of the story because of this & don't know if I can face listening to it again.
"Can you suspend disbelief?"
A great series of books if you can get over the initial premis. The world suddenly changes and engines, guns and electricity no longer works. How will people adapt? What price civilisation and law?
Cleverly written with a closely observed and diverse population, the first three books in this series are well worth a read (or rather listen). Personally later volumes got a bit too "new age" for my taste - but the initial trilogy were a great adventure.
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