I like Stirling usually. This book isn't one of my favorites. It took me a while to get into the story. It would have helped had I known (and looked) at the appendices at the end of the book. Just starting out reading it, I was lost. Reading the appendices gives a lot of background that would have made it easier to get into the story. It is once again an alternate reality of our world set in the 2020's in India where the seat of British Empire has been moved due to the global calamity of asteroid hits across much of the northern hemisphere much earlier. This book's story doesn't tie into his other series. Stirling does have a set scenario that happens when the world is set back by some huge disaster. If you don't like his set scenario then try not to dwell on some of the nastier parts of it.
Sometimes you just get lucky. I still don't know why I started reading this book, I'm not an Alternative History buff, but a couple of pages and I was hooked. (I have become an instant S.M. Sterling fan.) Sterling is one of the very few of today's authors that is not only a fine craftsman, but a great storyteller. He doesn't drown you in dialog or craze you with umpteen sub-plots and names to try keeping track of. The men are Males and the women are Female and act apropriately for their gender. The Good Guys are very good and the Bad Guys very bad. Responsibility is the norm, with Law and Honor being taken very, very seriously. Violence is flat-out, for keeps, with no holds barred, and no apologies granted. He paces the tale perfectly- I had great difficulty putting the book down. I do hope you enjoy it as much as I did.
In 1878, a deadly asteroid shower decimates the population of the Northern Hemisphere and forces the relocation of the British Empire to its southern colonies in India, Australia, and South Africa. Two centuries later, when the British Raj faces deadly threats from rival empires, the crown prince places his trust and the fate of the empire in the hands of a young officer in the Peshawar Lancers and his twin sister, a brilliant and innovative scientist. The author of the "Islander" series (e.g., Island in the Sea of Time, Against the Tide of Years, On the Oceans of Eternity) has written a remarkable alternate history. Stirling's impeccable research infuses both plot and characters with depth and verisimilitude, creating a tale of high adventure, romance, and intrigue that belongs in most sf collections.
A great story in the "what if" catagory. Such as what if a giant asteroid shower wipes out civilization in the mid 1800's and an ice age is triggered. British civilization moves down to India and the resulting culture that combines Indian mythology with British tradition is a fascinating read without the central story . . .
I picked this book up because of the "what if" premise. The story held my interest although the use of "Indian" vocabulary sometimes made it hard to follow. If you enjoy the "historical" books by Harry Turtledove you should like this one.
I am a GREAT fan of Stirling and have read most of his books now. Most of the time I love the details that he adds to his stories that make them come alive. His rich imagination and story telling skills make his characters come alive. I often have trouble slowing my self down so I can remember to savor his writing while I try to gallop through one exciting event to the next.
In Peshawar Lancers there is still much to enjoy, but for me I found the language and cultural references like slogging through mud. While Stirling likes to use language to enliven his stories, I felt he went way overboard on it for this story. This was especially true for the first quarter of the book. I almost gave up on it several times. Glad I didn't because I really enjoyed the rest of the story.
If you like Stirling and alternative histories, this is one to read.