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The Peshawar Lancers

3.82  ·  Rating Details ·  2,067 Ratings  ·  147 Reviews
In the mid-1870s, a violent spray of comets hits Earth, decimating cities, erasing shorelines, and changing the world's climate forever. And just as Earth's temperature dropped, so was civilization frozen in time. Instead of advancing technologically, humanity had to piece itself back together....

In the twenty-first century, boats still run on steam, messages arrive by tel
ebook, 496 pages
Published January 7th 2003 by Roc (first published 2002)
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The Shayne-Train
Feb 17, 2015 The Shayne-Train rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I must say, that was a pretty rollicking alternate-history adventure!

A meteor or some such falling heavenly body strikes the earth at the end of the 1800's. All technological progress halts, and the world is thrown screaming back into the Middle Ages as nuclear winter makes coastal locations uninhabitable. So the British Empire moves itself to India, and becomes the leading world-governor.

This is perhaps the best explanation for a world existing in a quasi-steampunk situation, dontcha think? Yea
Duffy Pratt
This book highlights both Stirling's strengths and weaknesses. His main strength is the power of his underlying ideas, and the depth with which he has thought them out. The premise is that the entire northern hemisphere basically got wiped out by meteors in the 19th century, but Britain managed to relocate some of its population and retain its power base -- in India, Australia, and South Africa. Flash forward 250 years, but with technology lagging behind, and resources much different than they o ...more
Jan 19, 2011 Meg rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I found The Peshawar Lancers to be very easy to fall into. S.M. Stirling is very talented at creating believable and fully realized worlds; you can really tell how much thought and research goes into them.

This book in particular deals with an alternate history where man's technological progress was halted in the 1870's by an asteroid colliding with the Earth. Flooding, long winters and cold summers, starvation, mass migration, cannibalism, and disease follow. Fast forward to 2025 where the maj
Tom Nixon
Jul 27, 2011 Tom Nixon rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Peshawar Lancers is a rip-roaring, swashbuckling tale of Alternate History rooted firmly in the tradition of Rudyard Kipling and other 19th Century 'adventure' writers such as H. Rider Haggard and Edgar Rice Burroughs. Set in a world where the planet was devastated by a spray of comets in the mid-1870s, the world of The Peshawar Lancers is a far different one from ours today. Empires still rule the world, with the British Empire, now centered in Delhi being the major power. Our hero, Captain ...more
Dec 09, 2009 Rachel rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
I should have realized when the blurb on the back of the book praised its "world-building" and "action" that that meant there would be no:

-Remotely sympathetic or even interesting characters
-Dialogue that was consistent from page to page
-Plot that made even a lick of sense

I respect the steampunky British Raj atmosphere that Stirling created, but the clunky writing, as well as the other issues listed above, just killed this for me.

For example: Stirling is so concerned with not saying "he" or nami
Andrew Ziegler
Sep 24, 2012 Andrew Ziegler rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jun 15, 2009 Annette rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Fans of Alternate History and Adventure
A satisfying adventure set in a world where a series of massive comet strikes in 1878 devastated much of Europe and America, and forced the relocation of the seat of the British Empire to Delhi. Now, in 2025, the Empire is trying to forge an alliance with the French, but the devil-worshiping (literally) Russians are determined to interfere. A pair of upper-middle-class "Sahib-log" siblings find themselves unexpectedly at the center of this struggle, and gradually learn the stakes are even higher ...more
The Peshawar Lancers is... extraordinary.
It started like any old historical, very familiar ground to anyone coming across Flashman or the Kipling-Corbett path... then you realize it's not a history adventure at all, but a fantasy world steeped in cannibal horror, futurecasting, and forced eugenics. Then it flips over into a faux-Victorian, inventor-scientist (complete with plucky heroine!) steampunk world with dirigibles, transistors and babbage engines... and if this is sound like a horrific m
Jan 13, 2013 Rebecca rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: steampunk
I was initially rather off-put by the incredibly James Bond-i-ness of the protagonist. Athelstane King, home on leave after a wound to the designated hero area aka shoulder, has sex with his sexy sexy concubine who promptly gets fridged by assasins so he can appropriately swear revenge. I rolled my eyes.

It picks up, though. Oh, he never gets any less Marty-Stu. But it turns out that it's just that Stirling doesn't do deep characters, really at all. But at least Athelstane is not the only one. Hi
Jul 11, 2013 Andreas rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This singleton is set in the year 2025, but not in our future. The premise is that a shower of comets hit Earth in the 1860′s, pushing civilization to the brink of extinction both by the impacts themselves and related general cooling. The British Empire relocated its seat to Delhi, and the story takes place in what is India, Pakistan and Afghanistan in our timeline. The Empire is ruled by the Angrezi Raj, or King-Emperor.

This is classic swords and horses adventure. Very gripping, with some great
Michael Pryor
Apr 11, 2011 Michael Pryor rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
3.5 stars, really. Magnificent, absorbing world building. Imagine if a giant comet storm hit the earth in Victorian times, necessitating a wholesale exodus to India. A hundred and fifty years later, the Raj endures. SM Stirling builds a fascinating, consistent imaginary society, full of detail - and this may be my hesitation about the book. The narrative, and the characters, buckle a little under the overwhelming wealth of detail which does add to the texture of the story, but slows down the unf ...more
Melissa Dispaltro
Sep 26, 2015 Melissa Dispaltro rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
I have been fascinated with India under the Raj since I read M.M. Kaye's _The Far Pavilions_ when I was 14. I am also a huge fan of alternate-universe histories and fantasy. Well-written steampunk is an absolute plus.

Needless to say, _The Peshawar Lancers_ (pronounced peh-SHOWER, not PESH-a-war) fulfilled all of this and more.

This is my first Stirling novel, so I can't compare it with any others, but I can tell you that it reminded me, at various times, a great deal of both Kaye and Kipling. I l
Luke McCallin
I love alternate history novels. The basis of this one was interesting--a series of comets strike the earth in the 1870s, largely destroying civilisation in the northern hemisphere. Led by the British, the surviving European states move south, into Africa and the Indian sub-continent. One of the results, a century later, is a hybrid Anglo-Indian Raj where the British and their Indian subjects have, under the pressures of survival, forged an interesting superpower that faces off with a resurgent ...more
Delightful Steampunk Romp In An Alternate Future of India

S. M. Sterling evokes Rudyard Kipling, William Gibson, Neal Stephenson and Bruce Sterling in this delightful alternate history view of a revived British Empire in the aftermath of a series of devestating cometary impacts on late 19th Century Earth. Comparing Stirling to Rudyard Kipling and other writers of Imperial Raj fiction seems most apt, since this novel is essentially an early 21st Century recounting of the "Great Game" played betwee
S.M. Stirling is a master of alternate worlds. In his Nantucket trilogy, the island of Nantucket and all its inhabitants get mysteriously transposed with the island’s bronze-age counterpart and must figure out how to live in this strange new–or old–world. In his Emberverse series, Stirling explores what happens to the world left behind by the disappearance of Nantucket, a world where the laws of physics–specifically, energy reactions–are now completely changed. No more gunpowder, no more interna ...more
Tim Martin
_The Peshawar Lancers_ by S. M. Stirling is an interesting alternate history by one of the most prominent authors of this sub-genre of science fiction. The setting is very unusual, one that I have never encountered before. In 1878, either a series of comets or one large comet that broke up impacted the Earth over a space of twelve hours, devastating Europe, the Atlantic Ocean, and North America, with millions dying from blast damage and tsunamis and later many more from starvation, disease, soci ...more
Dec 11, 2007 liirogue rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This could have been an amazing book. The premise is a little unusual - the earth is struck by a series of meteors, causing a miniature ice age. Western civilization essentially collapses, and British society relocates to India. Against this backdrop of severe cultural/social upheaval, there is a mysterious assassination plot afoot.

But the author, I felt, really lets you down. The characters tended to be flat and stereotypical. The basic plot was very simplistic (I foresaw every "twist" by the t
Lianne Burwell
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mar 30, 2009 Hideoijj rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Just discovered this author, though he's apparently been around for a long time. He seems to write primarily in the alternate history subgenre, and he's very good at it. I have some problems with some of his premises (in this one, a psychic bred by a fallen Russian empire figures prominently and important plot points revolve around her; this takes it into the realm of fantasy, which I think was unnecessary), but once you choke them down, the rest of it is well-written, fully realized and very en ...more
Jeffrey Ogden Thomas
Dec 30, 2009 Jeffrey Ogden Thomas rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: SciFi + India fans
Recommended to Jeffrey by: Rick Dunlap
Swashbuckling alternate history about the jewel in the crown -- India -- serving as the home of the British empire. Good page-turner adventure, with little character development but lots of evocative scenery and implausible coincidences. The mix of Hindi and English is particularly fun to read, for anyone familiar with both languages.
I read this years ago, before I moved to India. It was just a sort of pulp fiction novel. But since I returned from India, it is a lot more fun to read and imagine
Brant Satala
Aug 27, 2015 Brant Satala rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I've only just started this book, but I honestly love it already.
I really don't understand some of the low ratings for this book, but I supposed everyone has their own tastes. To me, it seems perfect for it's genre so far.

IMPORTANT, FASCINATING NOTE ABOUT THIS BOOK that may change your opinion about it: Sterling has actually stolen (or borrowed) the character, Athelstan King, a character published in 1916,in the classic adventure novel entitled "King of the Khyber Rifles" by Talbot Mundy.

S.P. Moss
'The Peshawar Lancers' was a book that I found hard to get into and slow to get going, but once I was in, I enjoyed the romp, set against a detailed and well thought-out alternative history - a 21st century British Raj.

The difficulty I had with the book is that it's written in rather undigestible prose, a bit like a curry buffet at lunchtime when you're not really hungry. The author has a few rather annoying habits, such as dropping in Hindi/Indian words without explanation and some clumsy sente
Hugh Ashton
Feb 15, 2016 Hugh Ashton rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Read this in two great gulps. A vastly entertaining book, and one which struck me quite forcibly, as the hero had various things in common with the hero of my Red Wheels Turning. Both are upperclass Britons, regular Army officers, chess players and fencing experts, and have a similar code of honour. They're even accompanied by fiercely loyal subordinates from another class, with whom they are not supposed to be friends, and both uncover treachery in high places.

But... Stirling's world, where the
Jan 25, 2012 Maura rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Don't do it. Just don't. Not bad enough to put down (in fact it was oddly compelling) but not good enough to actually enjoy. The feeling of release as i finished the last page was overwhelming. This book needed an editor in the worst way -- it was a 500 page book that was about 200 pages too long. Which makes me think that maybe one of Stirling's earlier books, back when he was probably forced to listen to an editor, might be enjoyable. but i'm not going to test that theory anytime soon.
Susanne Winterhawk
Alternate history of what the world could be like if a swarm of meteors hit most of the northern continents in the 1880s. It had swashbuckling, women's lib, airship adventures. What more could you want?
Oct 22, 2015 Phillip rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 20th-century
In general I liked the characters and the story line, the world was interesting and the plot engaging. But the ending was really disappointing.
This novel is set in 2025, but in this universe history basically stopped in the 1870s when a massive meteor strike/series of meteor strikes destroyed much of the Northern Hemisphere. The major European Empires shifted south and established more hybrid empires closer to the equatorial belt (e.g., the capital of the British Empire moves to Delhi, India, Fr
Jul 08, 2011 Frode rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Stirling is very focused on language and customs, and some that requires knowledge on the part of the reader that I didn't have, even after just reading Monsoon, which was about the Indian Ocean area. The story was ok, but it was nothing very great.
Moe  Shinola
Jan 25, 2011 Moe Shinola rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Great concept, fair execution. Stirling is good, but the concept is so good I was left wishing he was a better writer. This is not a slam, you will probably enjoy this, I just thought it could be better.
Hatton Greer
Dec 13, 2009 Hatton Greer rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I liked this book a lot. I have read quite a few of his series, and I liked the character and worlds he has created here better than some of the ones he has chosen to make into a series.
May 28, 2016 Ahunt rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi, fantasy
This is a fascinating alternate reality. The adventure is fun but the realization of his vision is fascinating.
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Stephen Michael Stirling is a French-born Canadian-American science fiction and fantasy author. Stirling is probably best known for his Draka series of alternate history novels and the more recent time travel/alternate history Nantucket series and Emberverse series.

(personal website: source)

I’m a writer by trade, born in France but Canadian by origin and American by naturalizat
More about S.M. Stirling...

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