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Dies the Fire by S. M. Stirling
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Dies the Fire (2004)

by S. M. Stirling

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Emberverse (1), Nantucket event series (4)

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» See also 66 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 61 (next | show all)
I started reading Dies the Fire to pass the time on a five-hour flight. I'm a nervous flier, and it helps to lose myself in a book.
Unfortunately for me, Dies the Fire begins with a plane dropping, powerless, from the sky. Oops!
This was a pretty decent read. Stirling begins with the premise that, one ordinary day, electricity, internal-combustion engines, and explosives suddenly stop working. Stirling explores this what-if scenario, centering his tale on two individuals: Juniper, a Wiccan folk musician, and Mike, an ex-Air Force pilot who has been running civilian charter flights out of Idaho.
Stirling's vision bears much resemblance to what we've seen in Alas, Babylon and other post-apocalyptic tales. Society breaks down, many, many people die, and a new social order begins to emerge.
The world Stirling shows us is brutal, and we're treated to some very nasty scenes of violence and combat. Indeed, those who survive in this world learn to fight with swords and bows, and to protect themselves with armor and shields. They survive through ingenuity, traditional crafts and skills, and pure hard work.
Leaders begin to emerge out of the chaos, some power-hungry and coercive, others noble and brilliant.
I have a hard time coming to any conclusions about Dies the Fire. I did enjoy it, but I found it slow going, with many descriptive passages about the design and construction of weapons and buildings. I rooted for the protagonists, but they rose to the occasion a bit too thoroughly to be believed. I also found it unintentionally hilarious that Stirling seriously depicts an Urban Studies professor whose background somehow qualifies him to become an evil overlord -- something about his understanding of street gangs? Okay.
Toward the end of the book, I felt a loss of momentum as I realized that it was paving the way for a sequel, and not all the big questions would be answered. But mostly, I'm just not the sort of person who takes enough of an interest in the kind of detail that Stirling supplies. (A sure sign that I would not survive in the world he depicts!) So, while I appreciate Dies the Fire, and while I recognize the qualities that will lead people to read the sequels (The Protector's War follows), I don't think that I'll read on. ( )
  ksimon | Feb 6, 2014 |
This is an awesome post apocalyptic book. Good character development, and a realistic portrayal of what society would look like if the power went out. The Wicca references became annoying after a while, but the Gaelic saying were clever. This book is a keeper ( )
  delta351 | Dec 19, 2013 |
The book revolves around an interesting question; What if technology and gunpowder stopped working? Well of course the obvious answer is all hell would break loose. Dies the Fire sets up the world that will continue through several titles and introduces us to the 2 groups the series will be following, the Bearkillers and Clan Mackenzie.

It is the story that is the real high point of this book. I will say that some of the rules about what happens seem a bit weird and unconnected. However once you get past that the rest of the world evolves in a very believable way. The way groups form, who goes where, how areas of society break down all seem very well thought out. The story jumps back and forth between the Bearkillers and Clan Mackenzie, but it is the Bearkiller half of the story that really makes this book such a joy.

As with most books of the genre the characters can be a bit clichéd at times. Stirling does manage to have them rise above that for the majority of the book however. Most of the time when reading Dies the Fire the characters come off as well balanced and interesting. Anything that has to do with following Havel and his group around is completely engaging. The supporting Bearkillers are nearly as well written and interesting as Havel. I can almost not say enough how much I enjoyed reading about this group.

On the flip side you have the characters following Mackenzie. My praise for the Bearkillers should not lead you to believe the Mackenzie’s are completely uninteresting. My only real complaint about them was that the constant Wicca refrain that hurt any section of the book it showed up in, or at least made it more annoying. It is clear the author has a fondness towards the religion but it began feeling very preachy in parts. Unfortunately Stirling’s passion has overshadowed what could have been an otherwise equally interesting group to read about.

Of course what is any book without a villain? Arminger is a superb antagonist and comes off as incredible smart, ruthless, and only slightly flawed. Having read so many sci-fi titles with incompetent or completely outmatched bad guys, this depiction of a villain who is the equal of the heroes was a fresh change of pace. ( )
  TStarnes | Oct 3, 2013 |
10/11 Reread. As I was reading this I was wondering why I love dystopian fiction so much. Is it the feeling of unsteadiness it gives me in everyday life? Is it that I have a deep and abiding faith in humanity to get it right the second time? Is it that my own life is comfortable? I don't have a solid answer, but this book is one I love. Despite the coincidences, despite the staggering body count complete with graphic descriptions of arrows thumping meatily into flesh & bone, despite the goofy portrait of the Wiccans- it's a book I sink into and embrace.


12/10Solid, engaging apocalyptic dystopia. If you are willing to suspend your disbelief and accept coincidences and luck of the [b:The Clan of the Cave Bear|1295|The Clan of the Cave Bear (Earth's Children, #1)|Jean M. Auel|http://photo.goodreads.com/books/1324059993s/1295.jpg|1584694] sort, you are in for a rollicking good tale. There's, for instance, a bowyer in every bush when the good guys realize that crossbows are going to be the preferred defensive weapon in the new world- but it works. The body count is astronomical, but in this context not at all gratuitous. The constant, reverent references to Tolkien were delightful.

The characters are likable and interesting, the central conceit fresh and the setting of my own back yard was a bonus. I'm going on to read the rest of the series, for sure. And I anticipate re-reading this as often as I revisit, say, [b:Alas, Babylon|38169|Alas, Babylon|Pat Frank|http://photo.goodreads.com/books/1169064009s/38169.jpg|37962] or [b:A Canticle for Leibowitz|164154|A Canticle for Leibowitz|Walter M. Miller Jr.|http://photo.goodreads.com/books/1329408540s/164154.jpg|250975].

Recommended, if you like this sort of thing. ( )
  satyridae | Apr 5, 2013 |


This book was great in theory. It was nice to read about places near where I live. I was a little tired of the Wiccan parts, but overall pretty decent. I liked it enough to give the second one in the series a shot. ( )
  JoshB919 | Apr 3, 2013 |
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» Add other authors (1 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
S. M. Stirlingprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
McLaren, ToddNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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To Gina Taconi-Moore, and to her Andrew, currently serving the great Republic in a far-off, sandy, unpleasant place. Long life and happiness!
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Michael Havel pulled his battered 4×4 into the employees’ parking lot, locked up and swung his just-in-case gear out of the back, the strap of the pack over one shoulder and the gun case on the other.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0451460413, Mass Market Paperback)

The Change occurred when an electrical storm centered over the island of Nantucket produced a blinding white flash that rendered all electronic devices and fuels inoperable. What follows is the most terrible global catastrophe in the history of the human race-and a Dark Age more universal and complete than could possibly be imagined.

"Dies the Fire kept me reading till five in the morning so I could finish at one great gulp..."—New York Times bestselling author Harry Turtledove

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:37:14 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

When a strange electrical storm over the island of Nantucket suddenly causes all electronic devices to cease functioning, the world is faced with an unimaginable transformation, one that is complicated by some individuals' ruthless quest for ultimate domination.… (more)

» see all 3 descriptions

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