In Oregon's Willamette Valley, former pilot Michael Havel's Bearkillers are warriors of renown. Their closest ally, the mystical Clan MacKenzie, is led by Wiccan folksinger Juniper MacKenzie. 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.
Unknown to both factions, however, is the imminent arrival of a ship from Tasmania bearing British soldiers.
©2005 S. M. Sterling; (P)2008 Tantor
"Stirling's blending of fiction and history produces a strange, hybrid civilization, in which the confrontation between warlord and mystic is viscerally satisfying." (Booklist)
"Readers who relish a battle between the forces of light and darkness...are in for a rousing good time." (Science Fiction Weekly)
If you've read my review for Stirling's first novel in the series, "Dies The Fire," you know I enjoyed it immensely, and rated it highly. Actually, I've read much of the series, and am continuing to enjoy the experience.
That being said...
This is the biggest challenge to get to those great reads - Get through this second book in the series. It's slower, a bit less action, and a LOT of explaining and establishing "future history," as well as religious changes and beliefs. Whew, a bit challenging, to say the very least. Still, a good (and necessary) read, if you want to get to the better work in the series.
Now, you may read the other reviews regarding this audiobook, and they're not exactly loaded with high praise for its slower speed and detailed lore. That being said, realize that the author is setting up quite a universe for what's coming. Look at the Dune series of books, and the extreme amount of establishment that occurred. MUCH more than this work, but it paid off.
It will do so here, as well.
So, if you like a good audiobook series as much as I do, and know that there will be a book or two that sacrifice "edge of your seat" listening/reading so that subsequent works in the series can soar, dive in and get lost in the lore of what's coming.
You'll need it for the excellent listening that's on the way!
If you liked the first book in the series then you will most likely enjoy this second book. If you felt it was so-so then perhaps you might want to skip this series and move to something else; I found it took some determination to get through parts of this book.
One of my pet peeves in any story is repetion of descriptive words, especially when there is a large supply of other words or phrases that could be used. In the first book it seemed every arrow fired and swipe of a sword resulted in "cloven air" or "this cum that" (bookstore cum coffee shop etc.) to explain dual purpose places or things. Thankfully he used a few different ways to describe things here and there.
A great deal of story time has passed between the first book and this one and I wondered if I had picked the third book and not the second, but this is indeed the second. The gap made me wonder what had happened in the story years between. It is as if this book is just a highlight worth noting in the lives of the characters. It isn't a bad thing because listening to day to day and uneventful routines would be quite dull.
At a few points in the story it was hard to determine where or when events were taking place; there was a lengthy flashback (yes flashbacks can be tricky I know) that left me wondering what I had missed is just one example.
The narrator is apparently quite accomplished and that fact leaves me wondering why he tends to repeatedly mispronounce words or if the author has spelled the words this way in the text (teeth bared in great effort pronounced as barred). Either way it the same as fingernails on a chalkbaord. Nobody is perfect of course, that aside, he does a good job with character accents and sound effects (woosh, screech, and so on).
The story is interesting enough to keep me listening, at least through the next book.
Dies the Fire was interesting and the clichés were newish then but by the time I've heard them this many times and there've been this many coincidences, this much incredible luck, and so many implausibilies beyond the fundamental Alien Space Bat implausibility of the disappearance of explosives/guns, internal combustion and electricity, I'm just plum tired of it. BTW, I'm surprised there isn't more use of hydraulic technology.
I like Todd McLaren's voice and his acting is good but some accents are off -don't try if you can't do them- and every ~20 pages or so there is a jarring mispronunciation. The persistent corzman/corzmen for corpsman for example is particularly grating. Okay, Obama said it this way once but multiple times in multiple books?
I think if I had known how marginal this was, I would not have gone beyond Dies the Fire but now I'm committed and my Virgo nature prohibits simply Googling the plot to find out what happens.
Very mixed feelings about this very mixed series of books.
I think they (particularly from this book onwards) are more likely to appeal to fantasy fans or medievalists than sci-fi or post-apocalypse fans.
-Characters you care about (even though some are over stereotyped and others are inconsistent)
-I kinda like the evolution from our world into a fantasy type world, but it won't be everyone's cup of tea
-Strong female characters
-mystery of what caused The Change
- Repetitive in many parts
- long winded, over written and not very well written
- Gratuitous, badly written violence
- Signe turned from a good guy into a bad guy for sake of plot without showing development, harder to buy than even some of the fantasy stuff
- Filler novel, not much plot development in this one
- NARRATOR! He might be fine for reading a normal book or male middle American accents, but why on earth was he chosen for this series?!! He can't do female voices and cannot read different accents, especially those from the British isles to save his life ( trust me I'm British), he mispronounces every British and French place name and his Irish Gaelic sounds massacred.
In conclusion; I wouldn't really recommend someone pick up this series. But having started it I want to find out what happens ( like a bad but mildly addictive TV show) so I will probably get the next book, although a paper copy this time.
This series is slow for me. I prefer more action and suspense to keep me interested in the story. However, there is something that tugs at me to keep listening. To see what the group will encounter next in their life trials and how it will make them grow stronger as a clan. I look forward to the next book in the series.
One of the very few books I could not finish. The very unrealistic characters ( yes I know this is fiction) and very annoying characters ruined this book. The Narrator does a very nice job and makes you want to keep going on this unpleasant ride. The overall story is entertaining and had me thinking about the book even when not active listening to it. What ruined this book was the Characters like The lady Juniper. So very irritating and nauseating was this character that I took my headphone off and started a new Book. A Wiccan folk singer who speaks in a fake Irish accent is bad enough, but just her constant merry met and goddess this ugh. Any other character with that much religious enthusiasm would be looked at as a Zealot wacko and not some Heroine goddess. I would have liked to see how it all ended up but I doubt anybody who needed to die would die. It seems S.M. Stirling uses the Star Trek Red shirt method of killing characters. This is not Lovecraft but be warned read at the risk of your own Sanity.
You never have to wait for anything if you bring a good book.
I have seriously mixed feelings about this series. On the one hand I hold out wanting to find out what happens. On the other hand there is a shrill voice in my head with a running critique as I'm listening to these books. It's very hard to suspend disbelief, but maybe that's just the way I react to fantasy fiction.
Of the first three in this series, this one is the least worth listening to.
My main issues with this series are 1) overly long detailed descriptions of irrelevancies, 2) magical anti-tech that defeats physics and chemistry in one little flash of light to justify re-introducing the economy of the middle ages where cutting people up was more romantic than using bullets.
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