I Love this book! I have read it almost 20 times now, and I still enjoy re-reading certain parts all over again. It really emphasizes how much we take for granted in our lives - and I don't necessarily mean simple things like enough food and clean water, but many other things that we usually don't consider. Suddenly, I find myself wondering exactly how that bottle of soda-pop was made, and whether or not it could have been made without electricity! And I find myself mentally cataloging the food and resources in my house, wondering how I might survive in the Dies the Fire 'Verse. Part of my enjoyment comes from the careful thought that S.M. Stirling clearly put into the details - such as learning to ride or use a sword. While I'm certainly not an expert in blacksmithing, farming, or any of the other trades that Stirling mentions in this book, the details that he offers feel accurate and correct. There is no I picked up a Sword for the first time in my life yesterday & today I'm a Master Swordsman nonsense. His portrayal of what life might be like in such a situation is extremely plausible.
As a fan fiction writer and reader, I can see the wonderful potential in this 'Verse - there is plenty of room for developing existing characters and situations, for writing in your own characters, or for adding characters from modern books & TV Shows. Plenty of ways to ask, What if? I can hardly wait until the newest book is available. By the way, if you're not sure whether or not you would like this book, S.M. Stirling offers sample chapters (the first 4 -6 chapters of each book) on his official website.
Valli reviewed Dies the Fire (Change, Bk 1) (Emberverse, Bk 1) on
Helpful Score: 6
I really wanted to like this book because I adore post-apocalyptic fiction and I was so glad I'd found a new title to read, but, OH!, the main characters were so annoying. The author made the main characters too perfect to be believable. Strangers fall at their feet to work for them, they are eager to serve them and call them "boss" and "lady", and everything seems to be working out well for them as the rest of the country dies and suffers mainly because they aren't as clever and good as our characters. Then, we have the Wicca stuff... I found the description of Wiccan ritual to be interesting until it began to feel as if I was reading bits and pieces of a "Wicca for Dummies" book. Do you enjoy reading the same cutesy sayings over and over? I hope so because you'll be seeing the phrase "Blessed Be!" 68,548 times throughout the book.
This author took an interesting premise and then completely ruined it with unrealistic characters that most normal people will end up hating within the first 150 pages. Seriously, I was hoping that the cannibals would eat them.
Sarah S. (Tracks) reviewed Dies the Fire (Change, Bk 1) (Emberverse, Bk 1) on
Helpful Score: 6
Not a good book. The premise was decent, but all he wanted to talk about was Wicca and fighting. Throw in a crazy *love* story of young girl/older man and that's the book. I mean, that whole line of the story was incredibly unbelievable. Also, how many times can you have a Wiccan festival described in minute detail before tuning out? My mom calls this a "skip book"- you read a page, skip 10 and still get exactly what's going on.
I really didn't like this book. Ugh.
Great action, suspense, characterization, and colorful writing. These books are as fine as any others written by Stirling. They could be even better if he would leave off with the ridiculous witches subplot or, in the case of some of his other works (The Draka Series), the exaggerated homosexual subplots. I am all for the diversity of characters which makes them more human but Stirling spends so much time describing Western America's conversion to Wicca that he loses a lot, makes it harder to follow, and should have stuck to the story. I mean, c'mon, gimme a break! Several thousand people are not gonna convert to some polytheistic pagan theology that cannot possibly make up even 1% of the current population based largely on the choices of a group of 20 people or less . . . not in any crisis. Thanx for letting me rant! Otherwise, I thoroughly enjoyed the book.
This book was impressive in it's terribleness. Like a train wreck- you don't want to keep looking, but for some reason, you have to. Some part of me must have liked it, as it's 573 pgs and I finished it.
Loved it! read the entire series piecemeal over the years, now collecting the entire series in hardback to re-read over in order & keep!
Fantastic critique of modern society & world (although as an SCA member I am sorry that SCA members are the bad guys) & what would/could happen!
This first book in the series is, I think, the strongest. The descriptions of what happens when the lights go out are vivid and compelling. You may need a bit of belief suspension about the societal changes - not sure myself that Americans would fall quite so quickly into feudalism and Wiccan society, but I've let him convince me that electricity and gunpowder can suddenly stop working so I can go with the rest. But if you keep reading you'll run into incredibly repetitive and tedious battle scenes - Stirling loves to have folks stabbed "under the short ribs", their noses getting skinned from blades whistling by, horses screaming in agony and so forth. The good guys are knights in shining armor (literally) and the bad guys are Evil Incarnate (tm). Don't get me wrong, this is good post-apocalyptic fiction, but don't read them one right after the other.
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 (although it's my understanding that the books later in the series look into 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. 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!
Bud G. reviewed Dies the Fire (Change, Bk 1) (Emberverse, Bk 1) on
Helpful Score: 1
This is the first of the Change books and I have read it several times and enjoyed it. the only real difficulty I have with it is in the explanation of the nature of the catastrophe. It is inconsistent with the laws of physics and thermodynamics, something the author glosses over. But, once one suspends disbelief, that necessary contract with the author of any book in the SF genre, then it is an engaging read, with good characterization, good plots and subplots, and moves right along. Stirling's writing is consistent throughout the series, characters move in and out in a plausible fashion, and the narrative keeps one engaged.
A friend of mine lent me this book, thinking I might enjoy it, I loved it. I found the characters to be intriguing and in some situations, inspiring. The story is one that fascinated me, and since reading the book, I find myself occasionally wondering what I might do in a situation like theirs. I like a book that stays with me afterward and leaves me wondering what if.
Suddenly, due to an Unexplained Event, a bunch of technology stops working, and society (and several key individuals) has to adapt to the new reality.
Which is ok as far as it goes ... but it stopped passing the giggle test for me when it became utterly clear that the various things that quit working had nothing, chemically or physically, in common, except "The author wants them not to work." I'm willing to suspend disbelief on the thinnest of pretexts, but there has to BE one, and the book has to play fair to its own internal continuity, and IMHO, this one doesn't.
It's a shame; I liked the characters. Maybe you'll have better luck with it than I did.
I like Stirling's writing. In this book I found that he wrote in a way that really flowed and made for easy reading. The main thing that I found myself thinking was - "What if the laws of physics changed so electronics and combustion no longer worked well?"
Can you imagine all the planes in the air plummeting to earth at the same time? And that's just the start of the book - literally. One thing of interest is that for the first time a large segment of the character population in a book were Wiccans portrayed as a way of life as well as a religion. And it was shown in a light that was reasonable and "normal" as opposed to being an abhorred concept. Very interesting because of the advice the author had from Wiccan advisors and research. I learned a lot and loved the "romance" of that belief although I am not of that belief.
As stated by others - a lot does happen. But that's good in this book since the probably horror of existence in the circumstances created by the author would be more than most could comfortably accept if told minute by minute and hour by hour. It does give one pause to think what it would take to survive and what we would have to confront to survive.
Very good book, compelling enough to have me sign up for the 2nd and 3rd books of the series. The story line is a disturbing/fascinating vision of what would happen if our lives were turned upside down without technology to rely on.
Of Note: This book is focused on the practice of Wicca, I was a little turned off by it but it's not overwhelming enough or condemning of Christianity in general so taken with a grain as part of a story.....
I really liked this book, though as a previous reviewer I read somewhere said, the characters are little 'too likable' in that everyone wants to follow them and they 'know' exactly what to do.
That said, I enjoyed the story, even while it scared the crap out of me. It was written in a very realistic style for how our world would fall apart should such an event happen. There would probably be people who thrived, people who died right away (or more slowly and terribly) there would be people who would lose what we would call 'civilized humanity' and others who would become purely animalistic as well as cannibalistic.
I found the story (and the future books as well) fun, scary, intriguing and practically 'unputdownable' They do throw in a bit of paranormal 'woo-woo' (lol) with the witch/wicca side that caused me to pause a bit,
but if I could suspend my disbelief for something that knocks out all technology (including gunpowder) in a single instance, it isn't far to suspend that suspension into the fact that other (and more physical) manifestations of 'powers' might grow...thankfully nobody every threw a fireball with their hands or anything.
Stirling kept it very much in the realm of possibility even if not probability and that is what made for a very scary read.
I didn't know what to expect when I started reading this book; I'd never heard of the author before and I tend to like my post apocalypses zombie-filled. I was delightfully surprised to find myself drawn in by engaging characters and their struggle to survive in a suddenly changed world. There is no electricity, no motorized vehicles, no guns. Various groups of people band together to try to survive against a backdrop of a world in chaos. There are roving gangs bent on violence and pillage, stranded motorists that have gone cannibalistic and tight-knit religious communities, of various sorts, that share among members and protect each other.
The one weak spot of the story is that it is never explained why motors and black powder weapons don't work, but in some ways that almost works as a plus; there is a high likely hood that a world changing disaster might not come with an explanation.
I LOVED this book. It took me by surprise. It was very cool to see the differences between the two main groups of survivors. One was a group of neo-Pagans who fled their city for a remote, rustic cabin in the mountains, and the other is group centering around a family plus the pilot that was flying them to a vacation home when the world changed suddenly. The groups had different priorities and strategies for survival which are narratively put forth in an interesting manor. An engaging and thoughtful story about what might happen if the lights went out, and stayed out.
If you can suspend your disbelief, and appreciate the hard work it took the author to research the details in this book, then this book is very enjoyable I appreciated the hard work, but the premise is tough to get over because ... science.
#1 of a speculative fiction/dystopian series set in a modern world beginning the night of "the Change" when some sort of worldwide, catastrophic event like a giant electromagnetic pulse renders modern technology useless. Everything electrical, battery-operated, or explosive is rendered instantly inoperative--planes fall out of the sky, automobiles stop working where they are, the lights literally go out all over the world. Mass chaos ensues, and as expected, as the months go by, much of the population left after the initial Change dies from starvation, various diseases and plagues, and eventually from the brutality of other men, with roving bands of cannibals stalking the countryside. A few vicious, power-hungry men setting up mini-empires in various cities, ruling by violence and terror to take what they want and control the populace.
But out in the countryside (this takes place primarily in Oregon, with Portland being the demense of the evil Protector) small of people retreat to family farms and try to plan for a future, raising food without electricity, gasoline-powered machinery or modern conveniences. They must also, of course, protect themselves from the ruthless bands of bandits, cannibals, and the Protector's increasingly far-reaching cohorts demanding feudal-like power, tithes of food and service and the like.
This story is told primarily from the point of view of two people, leaders of two different such groups, Juniper MacKenzie and Mike Havel, Mike having been a bush pilot whose plane crashed in the episode with the Larsson family his current clients on board--all miraculously survive the crash, and Mike, a former Marine, sets out to keep his charges safe. Juniper was a folk musician and High Priestess of a small Wiccan coven and heads for her cottage in the hills with a few friends when the Change happens. Very hard to put down! Interesting story, and very much looking forward to the next book in this series to see what happens to our friends (and to society!) as time goes on.