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Burning Tower by Larry Niven
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Burning Tower (2005)

by Larry Niven

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Burning Tower picks up a year after Burning City concludes, Yangin-Atep is myth, the Greenroad is open, and no one knows how Tep's Town will survive exposure to the outside world. The focus of the book is on the budding romance between Sandry, the finest young Lord of his generation, and Burning Tower, the youngest of Whandall Feathersnake's children. Whereas in Whandall's story, we saw an entire lifetime in one book, Burning Tower slows down time so that we can see Sandry and Tower begin to love one another, and overcome the obstacles that could keep them apart.

Sandry and Tower come from different worlds. Sandry is Lord Sandry, representative of the legalistic and militaristic Lords of Lordshills. We get to see much more of the Lords' society in Burning Tower, see what they do and why they do it. Tower's mother and father represent the other two factions of Tep's Town, the kinless and the Lordkin, but Tower is more a child of the Hemp Road.

Dynastic politics is both bane and boon to Sandry and Tower. Normally, Lords marry within their own kind, but Whandall's escape from Tep's Town and subsequent success as a merchant prince has both elevated his status and set in motion a chain of events that threaten to undermine the power of the Lords, and the stability of Tep's Town. The possibility of marrying into a trading empire allows Sandry the opportunity to follow his heart, and it leads him from Tep's Town, across the Mohave, up the Mogollon Rim, and past Meteor Crater to Aztlan.

As a secret history, Niven and Pournelle based this book upon existing art, legend, and archeology, with their own special twists. I greatly enjoyed their version of the foundation myth of the Aztecs. There is a little bit of fun metahistory, some unusual tidbits thrown in for color, and perhaps just a bit of snark towards bureaucracy. A really, really, fun book. Anyone who likes Niven and Pournelle will like this one, and fans of secret histories should as well. ( )
  bespen | Mar 29, 2013 |
Two good things about this: I got it from the library and I did not read the prequel :-) ( )
  cgodsil | Oct 17, 2009 |
Difficult going. ( )
  shieldsk1 | Oct 27, 2008 |
This book purports to be a pseudo-history of meso-america, with proto-cultures where magic is still (just about) real and the things we currently consider to be legend - flying snakes, rain arrows and the like - work. There are also merfolk and other such wonders. At that level, it's entirely satisfying.

However, as you might expect from two such well known science-fiction authors there are elements that can be read as a twist on today's culture. The huge "evil empire" with massive numbers of poorly trained troops and a massive reliance on their technology to cope with the vicissitudes of life. The same empire has an emperor who will do anything to cling to power, and won't hear bad news because no one is brave enough to tell him. The much smaller, heroic, highly-trained other empire who goes out and integrates with the natives and learns from them to some extent at least and is able to hide amongst them when needed.

Maybe it's a stretch, but I kept reading it as a commentary on the US and UK foreign policies (the US being in the role of the evil empire, the UK in the role of much smaller and playing the 'hearts and minds' card), but also as the US and the terrorists - the "reasonable behaviour" of the evil empire by their standards clearly makes you think they're mad and shouldn't be allowed to spread their influence everywhere. The terrorists are tiny by comparison but dedicated and work hard to preserve their own sense of right and wrong.

After all of that, it's also a love story, and a rollicking good yarn. ( )
  lewispike | Jan 30, 2008 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0743416929, Mass Market Paperback)

Return to the "vivid and unusual" (Kirkus Reviews) world of Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle's The Burning City, where the fire god has retreated into myth, leaving the residents of Tep's Town unprotected for the first time in their history.

Unfortunately, a fiery fate isn't the only danger the town is facing. From out of the desert come monsters -- great birds with blades instead of wings, driven by some unknown force. Although they can be killed, the threat these terror birds pose is worse than death. Danger on the roads means no trade. No trade means that Tep's Town will be no more.

Sent by the Lords of Lordshills to discover the source of the terror birds, Lord Sandry and his beloved, Burning Tower, must travel into a world where magic is still strong -- and where someone or something waits to destroy them!

Filled with the sweeping adventure, memorable characters, and imaginative world-building that have defined the novels of Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle, Burning Tower is another triumph.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:28:45 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

"Return to the world of Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle's The Burning City, where the fire god Yangin-Atep has retreated into myth, leaving the residents of Tep's Town unprotected for the first time in their history." "But fires aren't the only danger the residents of Tep's Town are facing. From out of the desert come monsters - great birds with blades instead of wings. Magical birds, driven by some unknown force for some unknown reason. Although they can be killed, the danger these birds pose is greater than mere death. Without their god, the people of Tep's Town can no longer stand alone. Danger on the roads means no trade. No trade means that Tep's Town will die." "Sent by the Lords of Lordshills to discover the source of the aptly-named terror birds, Lord Sandry and his beloved, Burning Tower, must travel beyond the walls of their home into a world where the manna that fuels magic is still strong - and someone or something waits to destroy them!"--BOOK JACKET.… (more)

» see all 2 descriptions

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