The Protector's War: A Novel of the Change Mass Market Paperback – Sep 5 2006
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From Publishers Weekly
Stirling's Dies the Fire began an alternative history trilogy with a stunning premise: in 1998, the laws of nature suffered a mysterious change: gunpowder can't explode, electrical devices don't work-in short, the last 250 years of high-tech gadgetry suddenly are useless. This sequel shows what has happened to the world since the collapse of civilization. A group of people in the Pacific Northwest have joined together to rediscover old skills; Mike Havel, leader of the Bearkillers clan, and Wiccan priestess/folksinger Juniper Mackenzie help their followers adjust to new possibilities. Nearby, however, kinky former college professor Norman Arminger is exploiting his knowledge of medieval lore to manage the Protectorate, a brutal and ruthlessly-expanding dictatorship. This middle volume of the trilogy shows skirmishes between the factions, leading up to an inevitable confrontation. Stirling's pictures of ruined cities and towns are grimly convincing, and his loving descriptions of familiar landscapes gone wild are wonderful. If the people were as freshly imagined as their world, the novel would be splendid, but even with cardboard characters, it's still an extremely readable installment in a better than average tale.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
The Bearkillers and Clan Mackenzie of Dies the Fire (2004) have spent the eight years since the Change, which left the world without such conveniences as electricity and gunpowder, carving out a home for themselves in the rich farmland of Oregon's Willamette Valley. The peace they enjoy is fragile, thanks to the Protector of Portland, Norman Arminger, who is ready to wage war to control the valley's farmland with methods derived from a medieval warlord: slavery, feudal oppression, and thugs running his army. The arrival of British survivors on a Tasmanian ship complicates matters, especially when they encounter Arminger first. The Mackenzie (i.e., clan leader), Juniper, brings a mystical attitude to the confrontation, and it begins to seem as though in this world without familiar technology, magic might in fact be just around the corner. The Bearkillers, meanwhile, are ever more influenced by Tolkien, thanks to the obsession of certain younger members. Stirling's blending of fiction and history produces a strange, hybrid civilization, in which the confrontation between warlord and mystic is viscerally satisfying. Regina Schroeder
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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Lakaeditn is an old Hawaiian illness peculiar to extremely successful authors, similar to lakanookie, a disease peculiar to geeky kids.
What I think is that this book should have been edited much better.
For example, the book abruptly switches from Stirling's normal, and very well done, linear exposition mode, to retrograde exposition where the point of view starts to shift and then returns to the omniscient editor. Each time this happens, the book seems to start over. It is as if Stirling wrote four or five versions of the same book, and then shuffled the pages of the ms. together and sent it to the editor.
The thing that bothers me the most is that the book could have been and should have been one of the best books Steve Stirling has ever written. His writing style has improved, and his infatuation with kinky sex for the sake of kinky sex has been reduced to normal levels.
In addition, the bad guys become less like scary sociopaths and cardboard villains, and become real people. To be able to make us care about the Lord Protector and his wife, and about King Charles III is terrific writing.
Now I can go back to waiting to find out what really happens in the Protector's War, which still hadn't started by the epilogue.
The Bananaslug. at Baen's Bar
That said, `The Protector's War' was really a disappointment. A disappointment because Mr. Stirling doesn't appear to have read any of the Amazon reviews of the first book in this series, "Dies the Fire." Large numbers of reviewers, myself included, commented on our dislike of all the Wiccan claptrap, of the negative portrayal of Christianity, and especially of the all-too-convenient emergence of handy characters and skill sets just when needed.
In volume two of this trilogy-to-be, these flaws are compounded by semi-flashbacks and a glacial pace of action. Really, we don't need to know about every trailside weed, especially if that knowledge comes at the cost of a molasses-like plot. Honestly, pretty much nothing happens in the first half of the book that couldn't be dealt with in a recap-forward and a couple tightly written paragraphs.
Yes, "The Protector's War' has strengths. It does a good recap, it is meticulous, and it is honest. All the favored characters from the first volume are back, and we are nicely brought up to date with the nine-years later plot. Also, although the editors didn't do great on this book, they restrained the author's tendency to write a lot of unconventional sex into his books.
I do hate to bust chops, but I really suggest Mr. Stirling go to some ghost towns (there are plenty near his home), abandoned industrial sites, old farms, and on some nature walks. Sorry, but nature does not reclaim buildings, roads, and infrastructure at a fraction of the speed he postulates. Who among us hasn't found a forty year old building still standing or a decades abandoned road quite passable. And that's in temperate climates!
The introduction of the British characters and the story of their travel from England to America. SM Stirling's clear writing style. Mr. Stirling's always great battle scenes.
The not as good:
The key to some of the complaints here stem from the pagan folks becoming one of the dominant forces in society. I found myself skipping through most of the sections invovlving the Wiccans and the invoking of their various entities, it really stretched my disbelief to the breaking point. The consolation is that this is fiction and in fiction anything is possible.
This book has a lot to reccomend it by. It continues the saga of all our pals from Dies the Fire. I would have preferred the focus to be less on the Wiccan folk though. They're kind of annoying.
What is going on here? Something or someone or somewhat has managed to 'turn off' parts of the laws of physics on Earth so that electricity, gunpowder, internal combustion, and so forth no longer work. Who? How? Why? No matter, what counts is now people on Earth revert, for no apparent reason, to some sort of feudal society so that Stirling can write a long, long, long trilogy about swords, damsels, in distress, evil Overlords, etc., etc., etc.
I did not read the first in the trilogy, I picked up the second because I was traveling in Panama and it was all that was available, and I will not read the last segment because ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!
I actually think Stirling is a good writer and seems to know his way around a good plot. So why do yet another LOR? Why not write something original and, hopefully, in less than 1500 pages?
WE get it she is a witch ooooh aaaaah but man does the author really need to remind us every 5th word?
The storyline involving The Bearkillers is entertaining though and I realise that its a book but are we really suppose to believe that within 6 moths of the Change happening a large portion of humanity would become cannables? and the loss of electricity and gunpowder would lead to the death of tens of millions...dont think so.
I gave it 3 stars becasuse it is an intresting idea and half of the book is pretty fun but my advice is to just skim the Juniper, Clan Mackenzie storyline there really is very little of intrest there.