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review 2018-07-16 03:12
A Meeting at Corvallis
A Meeting at Corvallis - S.M. Stirling

I am done with this series.  

 

A Meeting at Corvallis, the third book in first Emberverse trilogy, unfortunately didn't return to the magic of the 1st in this series.  Too much battle info-dumping, not enough people behaving believably.

 

That said, I did cry

 

at the death of Mike Havel

(spoiler show)

 

 

But I'm just done.  If I want the minutia of military campaigns and what people ate, I'll go read some L.E. Modesitt Jr. At least his villains aren't such caricatures. 

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review 2018-05-29 01:04
The Protector's War
The Protector's War - S.M. Stirling

While flawed, Dies the Fire (Emberverse Book 1), is one of my favorite post-apocalyptic novels.  The same cannot be said for the the sequel.

 

The Protector's War (Emberverse Book 2) is set 8 or 9 years after The Change re-worked the laws of nature and plunged the earth back to a semi-agrarian existence.  While it was nice to spend time with Clan MacKenzie and the Bearkiller Outfit, and I like the new characters from England, the way S.M. Stirling skips back and forth through time as he bounces between the various parties is infuriating.  The individual glorious moments that are the strength of this series was outweighed by how hard the story is to follow.

 

The Protector's War ends on a bit of a cliff-hanger, and I'll probably read A Meeting at Corvallis (Emberverse #3), which finishes the original arc about the early survivors and their nemesis The Protector of Portland, but I don't expect that I'll go much further into the 14+ books in this series any time soon.

 

 

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review 2018-05-20 22:38
ISLAND IN THE SEA OF TIME by S.M. STIRLING
Island in the Sea of Time - S.M. Stirling

Audiobook

Can I book about a modern day island on the American east coast (Nantucket) going back in time be boring? Yes. And for an isolated island with minimal supplies there is a lot of traveling going on - to Europe, to the Caribbean, South America. I know the author didn't want to bog down the book with descriptions of days and days of travel, but sometimes it seemed they were one day in Nantucket and then after waiting a week (no real sense of urgency - just we're going as fast as we can?!), it would take them about a day or so to get to the baddies. 

And I'm sick of reading that every battle between native and more civilized forces being compared to the Anglo-Zulu War. Catherine Asaro did a much better job with a comparison of this conflict. The "final" battle was confusing because I kept thinking, "Are they with the Eagle people or the Wolf people?" 

Anyway, I didn't enjoy this book much at all.

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review SPOILER ALERT! 2018-01-17 07:36
War Robot-Manning Persons, Fighting Dukes, and Bioengineered Religious Soldiers — A Review of The Warriors Anthology Edited by G. R. R. Martin
Warriors - George R. R. Martin (Editor), Gardner Dozois (Editor)

 

Originally published at midureads.wordpress.com on January 17, 2018.

 

 

The King of Norway by Cecelia Holland

 

3 Stars

A Viking adventure with all the gore and blood that you could ask for. If only I could have been made to care for the characters…

 

Forever Bound by Joe Haldeman

 

3 Stars

Soldiers learning to maneuver robots in the war have to do as part of a hive mind. Pretty soon, real life cannot compare with the virtual one that they lead with the other members of the hive.

 

The Triumph by Megan Lindholm/Robin Hobb

 

 

4 Stars

A retelling of the myth of Marcus Atilius Regulus, a Roman Consul. In the story, he is tortured by Carthaginians before his death. Everything in the story is actually setting up the reader for the way he dies.

 

Clean Slate by Lawrence Block

 

3 Stars

An abused child grows up into a sociopath. You can guess what happens next!

 

And Ministers of Grace by Tad Williams

 

3 Stars

It isn’t that bioengineered soldiers haven’t been done before. Here though the author makes it all about religion.

 

Soldierin’ by Joe R. Lansdale

 

4 Stars

A black man joins the army in the eradication of Native Americans. The story remains localized and makes no claims about the big picture.

 

Dirae by Peter S. Beagle

 

3 Stars

A coma patient becomes an avenging spirit with a special soft place in her heart for kids.

 

The Custom of the Army by Diana Gabaldon

 

4 Stars

I have been wondering if I would like Gabaldon’s writing and I wonder no more. This story is based on a skirmish between the French and English soldiers on Canadian soil.

 

Seven Years from Home by Naomi Novik

 

4 Stars

Nature and “people” come together in this story to save the land. I liked this one because plants featured in it.

 

The Eagle and the Rabbit by Steven Saylor

 

3 Stars

POVs change as we see Carthage fall and a Roman general plays mind games with the Carthaginians he will be selling off to slavery.

 

The Pit by James Clemens/James Rollins

 

4 Stars

Canine gladiators and sibling love made this story one of my faves!

 

Out of the Dark by David Weber

 

4 Stars

An alien race tries to take over the planet and humans band together to stop that from happening. They also have help from the unlikeliest of sources.

 

 

The Girls from Avenger by Carrie Vaughn

 

3 Stars

Women have faced discrimination whenever they have dared to step into a profession. Flying planes during a war isn’t any different.

 

Ancient Ways by S. M. Stirling

 

 

4 Stars

A mercenary is hired to rescue a princess who didn’t really need to be rescued. The princess was a pleasant surprise.

 

Ninieslando by Howard Waldrop

 

3 Stars

A utopian dream to unite the world while a war goes on outside. Didn’t take too long for it to unravel.

 

Recidivist by Gardner Dozois

 

4 Stars

AIs rule the world. Humans don’t stand a chance against them yet they won’t give up fighting back or remembering how life used to be.

 

 

My Name is Legion by David Morrell

 

3 Stars

Sometimes, the enemy on the other side of the border is your friend. In this story, soldiers who trained together are forced to fight against each other when France daren’t go against Germany.

 

Defenders of the Frontier by Robert Silverberg

 

3 Stars

Soldiers have been manning an entry point into their empire for years now. No reinforcements have arrived for some time. The absence of enemies starts to make them think. Does the empire they have been defending even exist anymore?

 

The Scroll by David Ball

 

3 Stars

A bully of an emperor keeps an architect alive just to torture him. The ending was a letdown.

 

The Mystery Knight: A Tale of the Seven Kingdoms by George R. R. Martin

 

3 Stars

A tale of Egg, the squire who isn’t a squire, and the knight he serves.

 

I’d say, you won’t be missing much if you didn’t read this anthology. But that’s just me…

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review 2017-08-02 01:09
Dies the Fire
Dies the Fire - S.M. Stirling

On March 17, 1998 there was a brilliant flash of light, and afterwards explosives (including gunpowder), internal combustion, and electricity no longer work.  Dies the Fire follows two small bands trying to stay alive during the first months immediately after The Change.  Clan MacKenzie, led by Ren Fair singer and Wiccan High Priestess Juniper MacKenzie, quickly bolts to her cabin in the foothills and settles into a communal kibbutz-like agrarian lifestyle in the Willamette Valley.  Clan Bear, led by ex-marine pilot Mike Havel with his deputies an African American horse trainer and a female live-steel sword fighting veterinarian, develop into a wandering militia as they wend their way from Idaho back to the Willamette.

 

Other reviewers appear to love Dies the Fire or hate it (Reviews are either 1 star or 4 stars).  I do agree that in many way’s Dies the Fire is an SCA (Society for Creative Anachronism) and Renaissance Fair fan’s wet dream – folks who play Middle Ages have an advantage on the fighting and crafting skills to survive.  Similarly, the villain, the so-called Protector of Portland, is a lawful evil stereotype with medieval history background who tries to start a Feudal setup with him as kingpin and the local gangs as levies.

 

The writing is a bit more polished than that of S.M. Stirling’s earlier Nantucket Trilogy, but still descends into detailed inventory and infodump from time to time.  On this re-read, I’m also painfully aware of some of the odd tokenization of certain characters – Will Dutton, Mike Havel’s African American 2nd and his Mexican wife are the primary non-Caucasians except for the Nez Perce.  Is that because there just aren’t many people of color in that part of the world, or it is because Stirling is consciously trying to be diverse? He’s not quite succeeding at avoiding the magical Negro stereotype.  Juniper’s daughter, Eilir is congenitally deaf due to measles but preternaturally good at reading lips and unusually Juniper’s inner circle appear to all be fluent in sign and a potential best friend picks up signing effortlessly.  Is that because Stirling is indulging in building the world he wishes, or because he feels the need to include someone with disabilities and then doesn’t quite make it realistic? And despite these criticisms, of all the post-apocalyptic and dystopian fiction I've read, Dies the Fire is the one that haunts me and that I dream about.  

 

The Emberverse, as this series is now known, is up to 13 volumes with the 14th, which follows the grandchildren of the original characters, expected out later in 2017. I read the first few books when they were originally released, but lost interest. I got back into the series because the audiobook is available on Hoopla from my library. Taking the time that an audiobook enforces, I’m more aware of the number of times that certain descriptions and concepts are repeated than I was the first time I read Dies the Fire.  I was talking to my husband about this and we came to the conclusion that S.M. Stirling, much like L.E. Modesitt, comes up with interesting premises and is a reasonable wordsmith but they both have favorite set pieces and conceits that they reach for just a bit too often – they can become their own cliché.

 

I wasn’t impressed with the Tantor Audiobook.  While Todd McLaren had a reasonably pleasant voice, the frequent mispronunciations were annoying and point to a lack of research and sloppy preparation.  (He mispronounces Chuchulian, Samhain, Lunasadh, Athame, céilidh, and ballista, among other things).

 

Audiobook started during #24in48.  Prorated portion of 431 of 1319* minutes or 187 of the 573 page paperback used as my last Free Friday selection for Booklikes-opoly. I finished it up while listening in the car on the way to camp to pick up my son and while sitting with Ozzie last night.

 

*I’d been calculating based on 1380 minutes since the downloaded file said 23 hours, but the book actually finished in 21 hours and 59 minutes

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