Book Reviews 2006 #47: The Protector’s War

With my essay Harry Potter and the Book of Gold substituting for Book Reviews for #41-46, the 47th book is the sequel to Dies the Fire,Book #35 read this year, The Protector’s War, S.M. Stirling.

The Protector’s War
Eight years after The Change of the first novel, where higher technology stops working one fine day and the word reverts to pre-Steam technology (and without firearms), Dies the Fire continues the story of the Oregonians and their struggles to survive.
And the British as well. We get to learn how Britain went through the Change, and get a couple of British viewpoint characters who make their way to Oregon and fall into the machinations of the Protector Norman Arminger, as well as Mike Havel’s Bearkillers and Lady Juniper’s Clan Mackenzie.
I don’t think the novel is quite as strong as the first novel. The narrative style, moving back and forth, and stories within a story gives the novel a Decameron like feel, but it also means that there is a little less in the way of dramatic tension. Stirling does do fairly well with the technique, but it means that we go back in time a couple of times to see viewpoints on events that have already fallen out.
On the other hand, like the first novel, Stirling describes his post-apocalyptic worlds well, ranging from an assault on a British castle to the gentleness of the Mackenzies at work and play, to the horror of Arminger in a modern torture chamber.
Still, I think fans of the first book will like the second, and although Stirling does a good job encapsulating and explaining the events and setting for new readers, I don’t think readers should start here, even the Anglophiles. Start with Dies the Fire.