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The Desert and the Blade

(Emberverse #12)

4.11  ·  Rating details ·  1,132 ratings  ·  108 reviews
In his novels of the Change, New York Times bestselling author S.M. Stirling presents a devastated, mystical world that will appeal to fans of traditional fantasy as well as post-apocalyptic SF.* Continuing their quest that began in The Golden Princess, two future rulers of a world without technology risk their lives seeking a fabled blade 

Reiko, Empress of Japan, has
Hardcover, 624 pages
Published September 1st 2015 by Roc
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Gus This is the continuing story of Montival and generations that followed Dies the Fire. I agree some of the books where a bit long - the quest could…moreThis is the continuing story of Montival and generations that followed Dies the Fire. I agree some of the books where a bit long - the quest could have taken 2-3 less books, but I found the last one fantastic, so I'm hoping this one continues the upswing, but I'm so invested in the universe I'll just keep going for a while yet.(less)
Mary Madole It's part of a series. At minimum you should read The Golden Princess which comes right before this, and better yet all of the books from the…moreIt's part of a series. At minimum you should read The Golden Princess which comes right before this, and better yet all of the books from the beginning.(less)

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 ·  1,132 ratings  ·  108 reviews

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Sep 01, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites, 2015
I read about 100 novels and about 100 more other titles (comic books collected in trade paperbacks, anthologies, non-fiction titles, stuff like that) in a given year, and those are mostly titles that were published in a current year. About 10% of those novels tend to be exceptional. Others not so much. That gives me ten or twelve novels from which I choose my absolute favorite in a given year. Sometimes the choice is hard or even impossible. Sometimes none of these novels left me with an ...more
Sean Smart
Sep 08, 2015 rated it really liked it
Another great story from S M Stirling. However as SM Stirling gets more successful he seems to falling in to the trap of many successful authors do of needing to be edited. I believe it was 150 pages of dialogue in this one before anything really happened. Some great battle scenes and great characters but really needed to be shorter and snappier in my humble opinion, it was just too long.
Matt Mitrovich
Aug 28, 2015 rated it really liked it
Originally posted at: http://alternatehistoryweeklyupdate.b...

Many of you who follow my reviews know that I am a big fan of SM Stirling's Emberverse (or Change) series. Hell I am responsible for creating the Wikipedia article on the series (O the things you can do when you are an intern and have nothing to do at work). You know what I like most about this series? Unlike many post-apocalyptic tales, the Emberverse isn't dreary or depressing with cliche stories about pointless survival. The
David Miles
Sep 01, 2015 rated it it was amazing
A slow-moving but extremely entertaining read. Stirling invests heavily in character development and his descriptions of battles are second to none.

Love the concept and the series. Every time I finish one of his books, I cannot wait for the sequel, and this one was no exception (dammit).
Taylor Ellwood
Aug 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fantasy
In this book, Stirling gets his groove back. The character development and action will keep you reading. The story is fast paced and the challenges the characters face are enough to keep you reading. This is a much needed improvement on the previous book. I like that Stirling draws on other characters that were developed in the anthology.
Mar 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Superb questing

The Desert and the Blade is another superb novel in the Change series.  We start after the High King Artos has been killed and the transfer of the Sword of the Lady to his daughter Princess Órlaith, who it turns out, is quite capable, despite her age, and is someone who has been learning at her fathers knee.  Of course having the sword does not hurt.  She teams up with the Empress Reiko (who also lost her father on the shores of Montival) and her entourage to first visit Portland
Oct 04, 2017 rated it really liked it
The continuing adventure in Montival are never a disappointment. This time we follow Crown Princess Orlaith Mackenzie on her first real adventure following the death of her father High King Rudi Mackenzie. Orlaith has joined forces with her brother John, future leader of the Association, and the Empress of japan, whose father just happened to die on the same day and in the same battle as Rudi. Together with their band of followers, many of which have basically run away from home to join in, the ...more
Oct 18, 2016 rated it liked it
I read the 13th book in this series before this the 12th. It did not seem to make much difference in being able to follow the story line. This novel like Stirling's other's later in the series drags at times when he goes into detail describing the post apocalyptic society variations and traditions. If I were editing the book I might have taken out 25 or more pages of this type material to get to the action sooner. Make no mistake his fights are interesting and entertaining. There is a mix of ...more
Nathan Miller
Jul 08, 2019 rated it liked it
Road trips! Yay! Stirling brings back one of the things I loved about some of the previous volumes of the Emberverse saga. To that, he adds naval battles! Making it kind of like Horatio Hornblower meets Lord of the Rings. Alas, I felt there was far too much recap, though not quite as egregiously as in a few of the previous books. And then toward the end, things just got weird. I kinda feel that the author is starting to jump the shark a little. With three more books left in the series, I'll keep ...more
Brandon Kurtz
Dec 01, 2016 rated it really liked it
I found this entry in the series to be as engaging as the previous books, generally. The characters and locations are certainly interesting. My one major criticism is that the pacing seems off. While the events in the first part of the book are covered in extreme detail, it seemed like the last bit wasn't given the same space. It's almost as if the author ran out of space and started being more economical with his words and writing shorter scenes. In some cases, the reader thinks there's going ...more
Dec 17, 2016 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Ann Friedman
I felt this book was overly long.
Remember that one professor in college that just droned on and on and on without really saying anything new; that is how I felt about this book.
Over 800 pages to get to the point of the story, only to have it over in 10 pages.
Same concepts and descriptions repeated, until I wanted to shout OK I know about the kilts already.
I have read the previous 11 (14 if you include the Island series) books in this series and this is the first time I have given a star
Jan 21, 2018 rated it liked it
For me this is one of those series that you want to see through to the end. The people after the change are now in their third generation and there are few pre-Changelings left. Stirling is masterful at exploring how language and cultural references might evolve in such a scenario. I enjoyed this book, though not as much as the earlier stories. The protagonists aren't quite as complex, and the final action in this one started and stopped too abruptly for me. The whole saga is still engaging, ...more
Fredrick Danysh
Aug 07, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: science-fiction
The Great Change occurred two generations ago devastating the world. The ruler who led the Great Quest has been murdered by a spared prisoner of war as was the Japanese ruler who was on his quest. The two female heirs of these fallen leaders are on their own mission to recover a magical sword for the Japanese in the wilderness that used to be California. Evil from an alternate plane is still about.
Jan 26, 2019 rated it liked it
I need a break. This book was easy to put down, and I felt like I was torturing myself to finish it. I think I am just tired how this series has gone from post-apocalyptic to high fantasy. I like both genres, but the way this series has blended them (from about #4 in the series) kinda bores me.

I just don't care about the characters or what they do. Bums me out, I really still enjoy the first 3 books in the series.
Nov 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This series is one that I always come back to. It is like meeting old friends. I have watched Stirling create this world since the original plane crash and now I am entranced by the adventures of the grandchildren of the original characters. The story keeps evolving. Although sometimes it gets a bit too supernatural for me the story and the characters keep me hooked!
Jan 01, 2018 rated it really liked it
Another quest book for another sword. But this quest is quickly done so that the main characters can carry the story on to new parts of the globe. But this does not mean that there are not the required dangers and fight scenes required of an Emberverse book. If you like the series, you are likely to enjoy this book.
Mar 11, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recent Reads: The Desert And The Blade. S.M. Stirling's Change saga heads into southern California on a quest for another magic sword. Up Topanga, into Death Valley and beyond. Much excitement and nation building ensues.
Debbie Anderson
Aug 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Ahh, the end of another great story. I cannot believe how far this series has gone. I enjoyed this one, especially since I have traveled more in the areas of the story which helps me picture the setting better. I am looking forward to the next installment.

Michael Stiber
An uneven work

This book has good action and adventure in places. It also has slow, drawn out descriptions of villages elsewhere those sections just dragged on and on.
Jim Basl
A well written book of the Change

This was a well written book set in the world of the Change. The battles were written very well. The character development was very good too.
Dec 28, 2018 rated it did not like it
Shelves: audiobook, fantasy
it didn't seem to go anywhere, I couldn't get past the 1st chapter.
May 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
a slow start, but an excellent ending.
Dec 27, 2018 rated it liked it
Whenever a new novel from The Change series comes out, I'm always so excited to read it, this one was no different. I continue to be a fan of these terrific strong female characters.
May 14, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Really enjoyed the exploration of fried, cooked and not quite deserted Southern California.
although I'm waiting for the day the opposing powers bellow "I see you" and the mind control of the weak..., still an enjoyable series.
Paul Friebus
Jun 04, 2017 rated it liked it
Fun, but not as tightly paced as many of the earlier books in the series.
Joanna Calder
Enjoyable, but not up to the standard of his earliest books about the Change or the Nantucket trilogy. I sometimes think that Stirling should wrap this series up and tackle something new.
Sep 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Still fantastic character growth, while the Kingdom adds more interesting bits and pieces.
John Ferringer
Mar 15, 2017 rated it liked it
I was torn on this one, it has a lot of good things in it but I just couldn't give it a full four stars either. Stirling does a nice job with the mystical aspects of the Emberverse for the most part, but there were a couple of times where it just seemed odd or hard to follow those components of this book's major plotline and I couldn't get past that. He does a great job of creating enjoyable characters, and that's what keeps me coming back to the series.
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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)

Im a writer by trade, born in France but Canadian by origin and American by

Other books in the series

Emberverse (1 - 10 of 15 books)
  • Dies the Fire (Emberverse, #1)
  • The Protector's War (Emberverse, #2)
  • A Meeting at Corvallis (Emberverse, #3)
  • The Sunrise Lands (Emberverse, #4)
  • The Scourge of God (Emberverse, #5)
  • The Sword of the Lady (Emberverse, #6)
  • The High King of Montival (Emberverse, #7)
  • The Tears of the Sun (Emberverse, #8)
  • Lord of Mountains (Emberverse, #9)
  • The Given Sacrifice (Emberverse, #10)

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