Stirling (The Tears of the Sun, 2011, etc.) offers up the latest book in his long-running Change series, set in a post-apocalyptic yet distinctly feudal America.
In Stirling’s version of alternate history, a 1998 catastrophe known as the Change rendered electricity, explosives and other power sources useless all over the world. The chaos that followed caused much of the United States to devolve into a sword-and-arrow-wielding medieval society, with numerous independent small republics dotting the continent. In this latest installment, which takes place in 2023, 25 years after the Change, many peoples are at war with the Montana-based Church Universal and Triumphant. The high king of Montival, Artos (also known as Rudi Mackenzie), leads armies in violent skirmishes on the battlefield while wielding the powerful Sword of the Lady. Meanwhile, he also wields diplomacy as he aims to unite the disparate republics. Stirling has created a truly original combination of post-apocalyptic sci-fi and military-oriented medieval fantasy with this series and in the process, has built up a highly complex fictional universe with loads of characters and political intrigue. Unfortunately, although his battle scenes occasionally come across with a certain grandeur, Stirling’s prose is more often flat, lifeless and full of stilted dialogue. His incredibly leisurely pacing, though perhaps in some ways appropriate to such a low-tech setting, will be frustrating to some readers. That said, many of those dedicated fans who have followed the series thus far will likely be satisfied with this latest.
A slow-moving chapter in the Change saga.