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The Peshawar Lancers

3.8 of 5 stars 3.80  ·  rating details  ·  1,634 ratings  ·  115 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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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
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
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
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
Jun 15, 2009 Annette rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  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
Andrew Ziegler
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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
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
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
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.
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
Michael Pryor
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
Jeffrey Ogden Thomas
Dec 30, 2009 Jeffrey Ogden Thomas rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  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
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
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.
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
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
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.
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
I was ready to be harsher with this book, and then I realized I hadn't given it much of a chance, so I guess I should cut him some slack. Don't get me wrong, I liked the book and the last half moved better than the first, but I somehow expected . . . more. IF I am to give a book a high rating I want it to grab me and almost dare me to put it down. This one sat on the nightstand and allowed me to read three pages at a time and then put it away until I could read the next three pages. But I did li ...more
Christopher Stilson
This book is too long. It has to be too long, because of the wealth of detail necessary to establish a convincing alternate history, plus the need to develop characters and relationships and exciting action all at the same time. Amazingly, it works.

While the root of the story lies in post-apocalyptic steampunk, these elements are not terribly prevalent in the actual narrative - they serve as a catalyst for creating the kind of society in which the story takes place, and provide set pieces for ma
This was a bookswap book, by a writer I hadn't previously heard of, taken pretty much on the basis of the blurb.

It's an alternate history tale, where Victorian London (and significant parts of the northern hemisphere) are struck by meteors that leave desolation in their wake, forcing a mass emigration south. The Empire still exists, but its heart is in India, not London, and the ruling families have taken Indian culture and religion on board, amalgamating them seamlessly into their former way of
A "ripping yarn" which reminded me of M.M. Kaye's India under the Raj with a fair dollop of Kipling. But of course, this is a different India, the refuge of the British establishment after The Fall, a meteor bombardment that destroyed Europe. But the empire has lost much of its Britishness; the former conquerors have been blended into the gloriously diverse subcontinent.

The story is a quest is to save the hero's family because it is going to play a pivotal part in saving the Empire. The action s
Nilanjan Guin
This book bored me out of my wits. The premise of course is stupendous - Earth and its inhabitants have been devastated by a deadly comet shower in 1885. It is now 2025 but the state of civilization has progressed only by about 20 years or so. As a result, travelling in a Zeppelin is considered the forefront of science and having a lady scientist is considered to be the zenith of modernity. With this premise, the author could have done wonders. But alas, all he does is to offer his readers a bor ...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
Kaiserkönig gegen Teufelsanbeter

Die Welt, wie sie hätte sein können - Alternativweltenbeschreibungen sind ein faszinierender Zweig der Science Fiction, in denen es zwischen völlig veränderten Szenarien bis hin zu nur leicht verschobenen Fastrealitäten alles gibt. Bei "The Peshawar Lancers" haben wir es eher mit dem letzteren zu tun - keine große Fantastik, keine abstrusen Ideen, sondern nur die Vorstellung, was passiert wäre, wenn die Weltuhr im Jahre 1878 praktisch angehalten und jeder Fortschr
Benjamin Espen

I picked up this book because Stirling co-authored several of the books collected in The Prince with Jerry Pournelle. I hadn't ever read a solo work by Stirling, so I was curious. I have had mixed success with Pournelle's co-authors. I tried reading a book by Niven, and while I liked it, I only liked it, I didn't love it. I picked up a work from Michael Flynn on the same day I bought this one, and I couldn't even finish it. I like Flynn enough to read his blog, but so far I've started but not fi

Kurt Vosper
An tremendous outing by Stirling. The earth gets pounded by a meteor/comet strike in 1878 plunging much of the world into chaos, cannibalism and warfare. The British empire survives and eventually thrives based in India and taking on a lot of culture there.

The book mainly takes place in 2025. Civilization is slowly recovering and so is technology. Transportation is mainly horse, boat, train or blimp. Motorcars are new and few.

Enter our hero, Athelstane King an officer in the Peshawar Lancers,
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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.

More about S.M. Stirling...
Dies the Fire (Emberverse, #1) The Protector's War (Emberverse, #2) Island in the Sea of Time (Nantucket, #1) A Meeting at Corvallis (Emberverse, #3) The Sunrise Lands (Emberverse, #4)

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