Friday, January 30, 2009

The Scourge of God by S. M. Stirling (review)

Title: The Scourge of God
Author: S. M. Stirling
Illustrator: N/A
Pages: 450
Genre: Non-Fiction
Dewey Decimal: N/A
ISBN: 978-0-451-46228-2
Cost: $25.95

I've been a Stirling fan since Island in the Sea of Time came out in the late 90s. My fandom was renewed when Dies the Fire came out in 2004. But this is the first novel of his in the Nantucket/Emberverse series that I didn't enjoy that much (Conquistador wasn't a favorite either, but it was never part of this "Changed" land).

The first half was classic Stirling. Plenty of plot, characters, and action. The second half was a bit of a drag at times with sudden, geographic jumps. And the ending? Well, I don't want to ruin it, but it just didn't sit well with me.

I think the worst was the session of religious discussions that went completely over my head while Rudi's band was holed-up in the mountains. Maybe it was because it was a sudden jump from the oft-Wiccan heavy passages from previous novels, maybe it was the syntax of the speaker, maybe it was just me. But I muddled through it.

I was pleased to see that Rudi's band finally made it past the Rockies before ending up in Iowa on the banks of the Mississippi. And of course Rudi picked up some spare members for his journey east. At times it reminds me of how Jules Verne had each stereotype covered. What makes Stirling's work unique is that while each stereotype is covered, it's the stereotype that's different after the Change.

In the end, I'm disappointed in the ending and I think that will haunt me until I read the next book, The Sword of the Lady (due out in 2009). I could read the first six chapters free, but I'll hold off and let it settle a bit. I know I'm coming back to this series, but I think I need to get back to the books that started it all first. I know, I just know that Stirling will tie them together somehow.

*After some thought and another review of my notes, there are a few things I left out in my initial disappointment. We see the introduction of several new characters, such as BD and Virginia Kane. The religion of the CUT is fleshed out, which brings about some events that appear to be magic. While this is clearly our-world-but-changed (in 1998), magic has never really reared it's head. Call me a skeptic, but I'm still rooted in this "dimension." The chapters in the last book had more of a segue between them. Almost like conversations that carried on. I liked that but miss it. Chapters in this book end more on cliffhangers. And I do like that Mary and Ritva have some developing love interests. I think I like them better than Rudi. And what's up with the new Norse religion?

No comments: