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The Sterkarm Handshake by Susan Price

The Sterkarm Handshake (1998)

by Susan Price

Series: Sterkarm (1)

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2761041,007 (3.88)33
Title:The Sterkarm Handshake
Authors:Susan Price
Info:London: Scholastic (Point), 2003. First published 1998.
Collections:Your library
Tags:science fiction, time travel, Border reivers, Cumberland, sixteenth century, love

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The Sterkarm Handshake by Susan Price (1998)


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I love this book. It is classified as YA which I don't get. I think it works well as an adult book. Andrea is an anthropologist who time travels as part of a corporate plan to plunder the environmental riches of the past. But the plundering Sterkarm family is more than they bargained for, and Andrea finds that the mindset of the past is more welcoming to her than her current time. In the past she finds love, respect and acceptance. What will happen when she has to choose a side? ( )
  Jen-the-Librarian | Jan 4, 2016 |
A really good romp, but obvious that there is a lot of thought and intelligence underpinning it, so a very satisfying read. The characters really come alive to me as the author treats them all as human individuals. No cardboard characters or stereotypes here. The time travel framework allows a great juxtaposition of two cultures. The 16th century and the 21st century passions work out wonderfully differently, yet splendidly the same, from the same stuff of human life. And good fun. ( )
  Ma_Washigeri | Jun 17, 2014 |
I can never resist a time-travel book, but this was just okay. I didn't bother with the sequel. ( )
  JenneB | Apr 2, 2013 |
I read this some years ago and was captivated, and a re-read hasn't disappointed. Somehow the time travel/science fiction aspect is convincing, leaving you to enjoy the love story and the moral choices and struggles the characters go through. Andrea has been sent through to the English/Scots borders in the 16th century to research the Sterkarms: violent outlaws or courteous hosts? Or both? But she falls in love with their son and heir Per, threatening her bosses' plans: to plunder the rich natural resources of the past.
Who is more violent and immoral, the reivers who give a home to a homeless man from the 21st century, or the moderns who still fight cruel wars, exterminate species, and are prepared to trick the men of the past into losing their heritage?
Marketed for teenagers, but I think it's more of an adult book.There's enough action and violence for blokes to enjoy, and a very appealing love interest for us girls. ( )
  PollyMoore3 | Jan 19, 2013 |
This is a time travel/sci-fi/historical fiction/romance, which also places it beyond the genres I normally read. That's a good thing! The reviews of this book here on LT and also on Amazon range from the effusive to the tepid to the scornful, and I understand all of those reactions. This book has a lot going for it. FUP, a British 21st century corporation, has developed "The Tube," a device that allows time travel. The tube is set up to transport employees to the 16th century borderland of England and Scotland, where they plan to exploit the land's abundant natural resources, and eventually open the area for authentic time-travel tourism (but first something needs to be done about the authentic smells, mud, cramped towers, food, and pillaging natives). The company has established agreements with and purchased land from local governments on both sides, but also must deal with the Sterkarms, a fierce, lawless group that inhabits this border, and looks out for itself. Andrea, a 21st-century anthropologist 'embedded' with the Sterkarms, is studying them, feeding the FUP information, but has also been embraced by them, and falls in love with Per, the leader's son. Thus, Andrea is caught between the two worlds, and her loyalties torn between the Sterkarms, who think the "Elves" only wish to trade, and her employer, who wishes to exploit and subdue. These worlds collide disastrously when Per is critically wounded, and Andrea convinces Windsor, her boss, to bring him to the 21st side to receive life-saving treatment. Windsor sees an opportunity to hold Per hostage and thereby control the Sterkarms, and Per sees an elf trap from which he must escape at all cost, and worse: a clear picture of FUP's ruthless goals. Susan Price does a fine job presenting Andrea's moral dilemma -- neither side is perfect. The Sterkarms are vicious and violent, but also loving and loyal. The 21st century workers are exploitative and arrogant, but also people with families just doing their jobs. Unfortunately, all Andrea does with her moral and cultural dilemma is dither.

What rings true: the historical aspects of the story, and the Sterkarms. Windsor and FUP deride them as childish and barbarian, and they certainly act that way. They make agreements, but then cheerfully ignore them. But, as with dispossessed people anywhere and anytime, why shouldn't they look out for themselves? Also ringing true: the corporate greed of FUP. The 16th century is just there, ripe for the taking, and plans are underway to exploit the natural resources for unimaginable profit. Mentioned in passing: a similar operation underway in South America, where the company is now importing rare wood and other natural wonders. What rings false is the extreme caricature of the evil 21st century CEO. I could almost hear the melodramatic boos and forewarning piano music. Also ringing false was the romance between Andrea and Per. There wasn't much there except the author's word that they were in love, and much of their dialog was awkward and contrived.

I have trouble starring and rating books. I usually award either 5-stars, for those truly wonderful, best-of-the-year books, or 2-stars, for disappointing books. This book has enough good and not-so-good to be a solid 3-star read.

Price, S. (2003). The Sterkarm handshake. London: Point. ( )
2 vote AMQS | Feb 12, 2012 |
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From out of the surrounding hills came a ringing silence that was only deepened by the plodding of the pack-ponies' hooves on the turf and the flirting of their tails against their sides.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0439978963, Paperback)

"Beware of shaking hands with a Sterkarm!" goes the folk saying. Why the warning? The members of this wild 16th-century Scottish clan are left-handed, and while they smile and offer the right hand, the left wields a dagger.

When a 21st-century mega-corporation opens a Time Tube to the 16th century, the stiff-backed CEO finds his plans for exploiting the mineral and tourism possibilities of the ancient English-Scottish border frustrated by the Sterkarms--raiding parties of men he regards as primitive animals.

On the other side of the Time Tube, anthropologist Andrea Mitchell has been sent to live with the Sterkarms to be the corporation's informant and translator. There she is surprised to find herself admired for her generous curves and accepted warmly by the volatile and affectionate--but intermittently murderous--clansmen. When her lover, Per, is grievously wounded on a raid, she persuades Old Toorkild, the chief, to allow his handsome and adored son to be transported to the 21st century for healing. But when Per awakes in a world four centuries ahead of his own, his terror and suspicions of treachery bring down a wild collision between heartless technology and a ferocious people skilled in passionate defense of their life and lands.

Winner of the Guardian Fiction Prize in England, Susan Price's The Sterkarm Handshake--a richly textured love story, a vivid and sometimes humorous portrayal of confrontation between cultures, and a thumping good page-turner--should find enthusiastic fans among teen-fantasy and time-travel buffs. (Ages 12 and older) --Patty Campbell

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:09:48 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

Having traveled to a sixteenth century border clan in England through a tunnel created by a twenty-first century company, Andrea must decide in which era she will live.

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