Wednesday, May 07, 2008

A Meeting At Corvallis, by S. M. Stirling

A Meeting At Corvallis, by S. M. Stirling

This book ends the trilogy started with Dies the Fire in a fairly satisfying fashion. Ten years into this world without technology, we find that the air is thick with diplomacy and intrigue leading up to an inevitable war. The children of various leaders are alternately kidnapped and rescued, and bloody skirmishes set the stage for a final battle. Stirling finds a nice way to have most of the characters live through the war that doesn’t rely on the usual luck that heroes have in fantasy novels. One amusing passage revealed that Cardinal Ratzinger is the titular head of Catholicism there; of course in our world Ratzinger is now better known as Pope Benedict XVI. Details like this help keep remind the reader that this is alternate history and not a generic fantasy novel.

While not a huge problem, the book could have easily been edited down from its nearly 500 pages to remove some redundant sections. The main culprit was that references to the Society for Creative Anachronism come fast and furious; at times it seems that only SCA members survived the Change! I don’t remember this being so prevalent in the other books, but the plot was more intricate in those as well so it might not have been as obvious. All in all, this book provides a solid ending to the trilogy, wrapping up most loose ends while leaving room for further sequels.

First Sentence:
Norman Arminger—he rarely thought of himself as anything but the Lord Protector these days—stared at the great map that showed his domains, and those of his stubbornly independent neighbors; it covered the whole of the former Oregon and Washington, with bits of the old states of Idaho and northern California thrown in.

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