by S M Stirling Book : Fiction
The Quest Continues   (2009-03-13)
Stirling, S.M. ~ Scourge of God ~ Roc, 2008 ~ 450 pages ~ adults, teens.
"The five women fell silent as they climbed single file on the narrow woodland track, higer and higer through the long summer twilight, with the soft duff of the forest floor quiet beneath their sandals--or in one case, boot-heels. They were dressed alike in black hoooded robes belted with tricolored cords."
Stirling's "Novels of the Change" series has received much acclaim and continues here with volume 8. Since Scourge of God ends in a cliff-hanger, more volumes will continue.
At the end of The Sunrise Lands, Ingolf, Matti, and Odard were captured by the Church Universal and Triumphant [CUT] which is both evil and determined to become the single power in the "changed" United States. The change has created dead zones in much of the former U.S. while reducing humanity to medieval technology. Rudi Mackenzie, with three other Mackenzie's including his two half sisters, has set out to go to Nantucket to find and use a fabled sword that may make the difference in the survival of his people. He will be joined by a Knight-Brother and some Boise cavalry At the same time, he hopes to find and free his comrades from the CUT
This is the major thread in the story. The secondary thread involves an attempt by an alliance of Oregon forces to capture Pendleton before the combined Boise-CUT forces take it and threaten the West Coast.
As Rudi moves eastward, his party faces many challenges and finds some unexpected friends. There is considerable action and it's described in some detail. At the same time, Stirling is unusually effective in describing the landscape and the culture associated with it and its various variations. Characters are familiar from earlier works, but are further developed in a thoughtful and appealing manner. While it seems likely that Rudi will reach Nantucket, the challenges appear to be overwhelming and the demonic CUT forces will do anything to kill Rudi and all of his party. Their magic makes it relatively easy to track Rudi and they have friends in high places from West to East.
While the series is a lengthy one, it is the best description and moving story of what it would be like to live in a world where millions and millions have died, civilization has collapsed, and only medieval technology is available to survivors. Political, economic, and social factors are well and persuasively integrated into the story.
The book is easily read with reasonably sized print, and white space.The front matter map provides a quick overview of the "changed U.S". Cover image by Larry Rostant shows Rudi standing before a destroyed freeway bridge crossing a river. It is well done, but I don't believe that Rudi used a cross-bow
An absolutely first rate series. An automatic selection for nearly all public libraries and the series is likely to become a classic.
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