by S M Stirling Print book : Fiction
After technology fails   (2008-04-01)
Stirling, S.M ~ The Sunrise Lands ~ ROC, 2007 ~ 453 pages ~ adults, some teens.LC: Willamette Valley, Regression [civilization], Oregon."Ingolf Vogeler slapped his horse affectionately on the neck; he felt a little better now that the rain had stopped, even though it was the tag end of a chilly October day with a ragged sky the color of damp raw wool rolling in from the West."This is the seventh volume in the "novels of the change" series. The first volume was Island in the Sea of Time and the sixth one was A Meeting at Corvallis.In these novels, a strange and unexplained event has eliminated virtually all technology except that available during medieval times. Civilization has collapsed nearly everywhere, but is gradually being reborn in a few places. Elsewhere, the world consists of death zones and places lightly populated by neo-savages. So far, recent volumes have mostly focused on the rebirth of civilization in Oregon. With the Sunrise Lands , the series reaches out to lands east of continental divide.Ingolf Vogeler has finally made his way to the Willamette Valley after a series of adventures that took him as far East as Nantucket Island where he may have encountered something responsible for the change itself. Something has charged him with going to Oregon to find "the son of the bear who rules. Tell the Sword of the Lady what awaits him." Ingolf will find Rudi, the Sword of the Lady, and with other well chosen companions they begin a quest to return to Nantucket Island.The miles to Nantucket are filled with a variety of deadly challenges, especially those from the Church Universal and Triumphant led by a crazed and murderous prophet. There is considerable action as well as clear and interesting descriptions of places and people twenty odd years after the change.World building is first rate. Geography, culture, technology, and human frailty are well integrated into a persuasive portrait. At the same time, the positive characters in particular and their way of thinking/acting are very well done. Each of the eight major characters involved in the quest are people we understand and would like to be with.Recommendation:The earlier volumes were well received and the series is likely to be a major contribution to the literature, especially of APOCALYPTIC SF. Given the nature of the story, there are some fantasy elements that will appeal to those who enjoy heroic fantasy. The series also works well as adventure fiction or as [alternate] historical fiction. The story moves well, but there are back stories that provide the newer reader with context. Unhappily, this volume ends in a cliff hanger with the success of the quest in considerable doubt. The front cover image shows Ingolf [I think] alone on a highway with crossbow in hand which doesn't really match the story. A helpful map of the what was the U.S. is included in the front matter. The series is highly recommended for larger collections, especially with its considerable cross-over appeal.
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