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)
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.
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.
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.
The narration was especially bad. He mispronounces many words, often in a jarring fashion. It is a surprise that anyone in American would not know how to say the word "Corpsman" in this day and age.
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...?
Runs with scissors.
Warning: Once you start this series you will want to read on. Action packed and intelligently well written, this book (and the rest in the series) moves along at a good clip and left this reader satisfied with both the pace and the rich detail. And bravo to Todd McLaren, one of my favorite readers (only the man who read Altered Carbon so brilliantly could bring this violent saga to life so beautifully). Well worth your time and credits. Not for the overly squeamish or the too young however as there is a great deal of violent detail--which was completely appropriate for the premise of the story. Enjoy.
The storyline in this book might very well be stellar, but I cannot get past the obvious Wiccan propaganda shoved down my throat during every scene. The power goes off in the world, and all of a sudden everybody is speaking with a ridiculous irish accent and is wiccan. Good fantasy books are good because they can make you forget they are likely written by D&D fanatics, and can make you identify with at least a few of the characters. This one does not. Try doing without the Goddess rants for a few chapters, and let the characters speak naturally and within their own time period please. It is a shame because the story looked really good. The authors religious and political views were all too evident in this story for me to enjoy. I felt as though I was being preached to. Would not recommend.
A fantastic book, well written, well read and a brilliant concept. All charactors and storylines are believeable with a hint of imagination and fantasy. Well researched . Please more of the same. S.M Sterling is one of the best Si-Fi writers around. This series as as good as the Terminator2 series. Sterling is what Ipods were made for!!
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.
"What if?" This is the core of the best audiobooks written, and this fantastic series is no exception. What if electricity, part of the very laws of physics, was suddenly switched off, along with all major explosive chemical reactions? Stirling, one of my favorite authors explores this wonderful concept in an original fashion. At once a harsh, nightmarish event, it builds quickly into a medieval society, steeped in knights, almost forgotten skill crafts, castles, field warfare, subterfuge, pagan religions, and secret societies. Without giving away plots and story lines, you will be, in a word, entranced, by this initial foray into Stirling's creation, and you'll find it a good solid read that can easily be discussed and argued about over coffee or a meal. You'll discover tremendous character development, continuity, growth, and a believable milieu, and in the midst of all this, an undiscovered and perhaps intentional cause of this worldwide event. It lies out there in the distance, and awaits not only the characters in the story, but the reader, as well.
This is, simply put, GOOD LISTENING. So, buy this audiobook, and dive in.
"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.
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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