Monday, April 6, 2009

Against The Tide Of Years by S. M. Stirling (review)

Title: Against The Tide Of Years
Author: S. M. Stirling
Illustrator: N/A
Pages: 454
Genre: Fiction
Dewey Decimal: F Sti
ISBN: 0-451-45743-9
Cost: $6.99

Stirling takes a step back in time with his Nantucket series and brings the reader along. As a long-time reader of his work, I'm now able to see how this novel struggles to compare to his more recent work. In fact, I would say at some points it doesn't really compare at all, and that's a shame.

For first time readers of Stirling, they may start with or go back to the Nantucket series and become disappointed with the second book in the series. It has a bit of the sophomoric slump seen in other trilogies and even in movies, but the true story killer here is history. Specifically the amount of historical research included in the story makes the reader lose a bit of faith.

But hark, there is hope on the horizon. The battle between the Alston and the Nantucket survivors and Walker and his minions of evil is brewing. Parallelling our own Revolutionary War, the two forces have minor skirmishes here and there that snowball into a full on battle (which I'm sure we'll see in the third book of the series, On The Oceans Of Eternity). How the battle will turn out, I can't remember, but I'll get there soon.

In Tide of Years, Stirling's depth of history is nice, but without some European and Arabian geography, I was a bit lost at times. I knew where some of the bases were, but it wasn't until the end that it finally struck me that Troy was in the area of Greece. Such a "duh" moment. But after looking at the maps and getting a better view of the world, it clicked a little better while reading.

One character that is notably missing from most of the reading is Alice Hong. I love to hate her and kind of missed her. There are several new characters, but I didn't really latch on one in particular. Although Captain O'Rourke and Dr. Clemens did stick in my brain a little more than others.

In the end, this was a book that bridged the strong start of the series and the big battle in the last book. Unfortunately, it was a bit drowned in historical references and military warfare. Stirling kept my attention when I originally read the book, but after reading his newer novels and listening to this again, it just wasn't up there at the top where I know he can be.

Note: This is the new version of the cover art. The older version looked like this:

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