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Dies the Fire by S. M. Stirling

Dies the Fire (2004)

by S. M. Stirling

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
1,759684,008 (3.82)81
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Showing 1-5 of 68 (next | show all)
S.M. Stirling is one of our local writers; a member of the Critical Mass writing group out of Santa Fe that includes George R. R. Martin, Daniel Abraham, and Melissa Snodgrass. One of those names is certainly widely recognizable, but the others are either known within their markets or regions – an unfortunate situation. Undertaking this book was a function of supporting a local and expanding my reading into the more hard core fantasy world.

[Dies the Fire] is based on a terribly intriguing concept – everything powered by electricity quits working. Further examination reveals that even guns and combustible materials don’t behave in the same way, burning slowly instead of quickly – so no guns or explosives either. Obviously, the world changes – the apocalyptic event is called, “The Change” in the book. What results is a return to agrarian and feudal organization. The story is told primarily through the eyes of Mike Havel, a US Army Ranger veteran, and Juniper Mackenzie, a Wiccan minstrel. Both establish communities within the Oregon wilderness, along the Willamette River. Portland is taken over by a history professor who establishes the evil kingdom with which Havel’s Bearkillers and Juniper’s Mackensie clan must battle.

Stirling is a master of research and minute detail, to the point of extraction, fortunately or unfortunately, depending on how much rein he gives his predilections. Discussing the book with a friend wise in the ways of hardcore fantasy, I learned that this is a common expectation amongst readers of the oeuvre, and a common criticism amongst the outsiders who deign to enter the world. There is a necessity of much of Stirling’s explanation, but it can be wearying sometimes. There is only so much I need to know about the length, width, angle, construction, etc. of every weapon. But beyond the extreme attention to detail, and the occasional bout of fantasy tropism, the book is readable and engaging. The characters are a little stereotypical – that’s where those tropes seem to descend most often – but they are interesting and complete.

There appear to be several other books in this part of Stirling’s series. I say, “this part of the series” because there are other books that relate to how the Change occurred and deal with other locations and times. In any case, Stirling has me wanting to come back for more.

Bottom Line: A great concept and interesting characters, even if the detail can be burdensome – a readable start to a series that I want to read more about.

3 ½ bones!!!!! ( )
  blackdogbooks | Mar 21, 2015 |
I would rate this book higher but for the religious bent of the book. I don't mind that the author wanted to include pagans but the total exclusion of other faiths or other faiths sustaining anyone looks a bit fake. Other than that loved the idea and the story was fairly well written. :) ( )
  Chris_El | Mar 19, 2015 |
i don't have anything to add that the other one-star reviewers haven't already said: horribly unbelievable, overly convenient coincidences, conceited portrait of various groups, uber-geek descriptions of cool gadgetry, like a pagan version of bad christian literature... i didn't make it very far into the first book before i had to quit reading. just like Twilight except that Stirling's book starts out with an interesting premise and contains actual grammar. ( )
  keebrook | Mar 10, 2015 |
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.
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  cm37107 | Mar 5, 2015 |
First in the Emberverse series, 4th if you include the Nantucket books.

One of the best writers of dystopia novels, in my opinion. Stirling concentrates on how people will adapt, change, adjust, survive when a real disaster strikes.

In the Nantucket series, the island is hit by some sort of brilliant light and sent back in time to the Iron Age.

In the Emberverse series, he moves westward to Idaho and we learn the same event did not move the rest of the world into the past, but instead just turns out the lights as well as stops every other machine beyond the very basic sort.

We follow two people primarily: Juniper, an old fashioned witch as she calls herself, a believer in the goddess and the coven leader of a small group, and Mike, who, when the change comes is piloting a small plane across Idaho taking a wealthy family to their ranch for a vacation.

Mike first has to fight his suddenly non-functional plane to the ground and keep himself and his passengers alive, then he has to trek them out of the wilderness to find some sort of help. It takes them a bit longer to realize what has happened, although Mike is aware that his emergency equipment is non-functional, like the plane.

Juniper, meanwhile, is caught in a small town, and experiences the first evidences of lawlessness and violence. She’s a smart cookie though, and works to get herself, her daughter and a few friends out of town toward the small cabin she inherited from her grandfather.

Highly recommended, but bluntly violent given the situations the good guys find themselves in. Still, good to see how people can learn to rise above disaster and fight to do what is right. ( )
  majkia | Nov 23, 2014 |
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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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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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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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