Ryan's Reviews > Dies the Fire

Dies the Fire by S.M. Stirling
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's review
Nov 05, 2011

liked it
bookshelves: fic-fantasy, fic-escapist, fic-speculative
Read in March, 2010

As post-apocalypse fiction goes, this book seriously strains believability at times. How, with modern technology suddenly non-functional, do the heroes keep running into people who just happen to be experts at horsemanship, archery, medieval-style sword fighting, chain mail-making, non-mechanical agriculture, etc.? Even the most dedicated escapists will soon be rolling their eyes at all the convenient coincidences. Also, it's a little bit of a stretch to imagine a medieval history professor, however skilled with a sword, taking over Portland as a badass dictator.

But, if you can get past that, Stirling tells an entertaining enough story. Despite the high pulp factor of the writing, I didn't lose interest. It's clear that he put a lot of research and thought into how people might survive and reorganize if deprived of electricity, engines, and guns, even if he assumes a lot of good luck for his protagonists before brutal desperation really hits them. I don't know much about Wiccans, so I don't know if his portrayal of a group of them was very accurate, but the use of their mythology was an interesting (if sometimes cheesy) addition. By the latter third of the book, during which Stirling's new agrarian/tribal society takes shape, and the bad guys and good guys battle in earnest, I was pretty involved in the story and its alternate reality. I might even read the next entry in the series.

The audiobook narrator does a passable job. His treatment of accents and female/child voices could be a bit grating, but it takes a pretty awful reader to ruin a book for me, and that wasn't the case here.

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