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Dies the Fire (Emberverse #1)

3.92  ·  Rating details ·  13,389 Ratings  ·  1,331 Reviews
Michael Havel was flying over Idaho en route to the holiday home of his passengers when the plane's engines inexplicably died, forcing a less than perfect landing in the wilderness. And, as Michael leads his charges to safety, he begins to realize that the engine failure was not an isolated incident.Juniper Mackenzie was singing and playing guitar in a pub when her small O ...more
Library Binding, 573 pages
Published August 3rd 2004 by Roc hardcover
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Deb Wiccan/Witchcraft would easily become popular in a world in which you live and die by the land. Wicca is an earth-based spiritual practice, honoring…moreWiccan/Witchcraft would easily become popular in a world in which you live and die by the land. Wicca is an earth-based spiritual practice, honoring and celebrating the year's seasons -- it's precepts are very rooted in agricultural cultures. And to the point S.K. Pentecost made, it does set up the future books in the series.(less)
Amanda There Will Be Dragons by John Ringo ( is similar to this one; what do you do when technology turns off? The…moreThere Will Be Dragons by John Ringo ( is similar to this one; what do you do when technology turns off? The story follows the groups attempting to rebuild civilization with the materials available to them. (less)
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Community Reviews

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Rating details
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Oct 04, 2008 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: renaissance re-enactors who are convinced that their weapon skills will be useful in the future.
Shelves: given-up
The moment I realized that 50% of Stirling's characters were frustrated Renaissance Festival "swordswomen" who were finally going to be taken seriously in the post-apocalypse and that he WASN'T doing it for comedy's sake, I had to give up. Two stars for competent writing, but I wish they would have been forthright about the SCA's affiliation on the book jacket. I would have spent my money on an over-sized novelty turkey leg and some mead.
Sep 12, 2007 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This book made me hate reading. It took me a month to get over the trauma that this self indulgent arrogant waste paper induced. Sterling’s lack of subtlety is developing his characters was only surpassed by his amazing ability to make me disaccoiate myself with his heroes within two pages. Amazingly convenient “coincidences” occur more often than in the Hitchhiker books, but at least Adams had the good grace to blame it on an improbability drive instead of just passing it off as the norm.
Apr 17, 2009 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I read this for two reasons. One, because it seemed like the true G David Drake thought well enough of SM Stirling to co-write The General series with him. Since then, I've come to the conclusion that that pairing must have been something the publisher pushed at Drake with a nice deal. Apparently, judging by the reviews here, Stirling's books have a fanatical following reminiscent of Twilight. Except, instead of terrible vampire books, he writes awful speculative historical scifi.

Which brings m
May 07, 2007 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: wont-finish
I've actually traded this book in without finishing it. I'll keep what review I had read up, though....

I've been reading this book, the first of a series, for a while and, well, we just haven't hit it off. Usually, I'm really interested in post-Apocalyptic, sociological books - The Stand and The Postman are both favorites. The books in the Dresden Files are ones that I can't put down, but Dies the Fire is one of those that it's hard to pick back up. (I've been taking it with me to doctor appoint
Ryan Mishap
Apr 20, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: adult-fantasy
One day in March, the world turns white and every person experiences a searing pain. After this brief flash, modern technology no longer works. No electricity, no firearms, not even gun powder works as it used to. Our modern civilization is thrust back to medieval technology, precipitating a catastrophe where most of humanity dies.
The survivors, though, have to figure out how to live in this new world as civilization collapses. We don't get a primitivist's utopia, however, but a competently wri
Sep 30, 2008 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Really diehard Post-Apocalyptic fans
It's been a really long time since I first picked up this book, enticed by the cover art and plot summary on the back. I don't remember exactly how far I got in relation to how much was left to read (although I do remember what caused me to put the book down for the final time, I'll get to that later) but I'll give my opinion on what I gathered from the way things were going:

The essence of this story is just a catchy premise, stretched painfully to cover an entire novel. I usually see this kind
Jun 23, 2007 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Hardcore post-apocolytic sci-fi fans
Recommended to Eric by: Rose
Shelves: post-apocalyptic
I loved the premise of this novel, but had a lot of problems with the execution. Well, mostly one problem -- the middle of the book crawls.

The book starts off in contemporary West Coast America, following two characters (a pilot and a Ren Faire musician) on a normal day, when The Change happens. This shoots the story right into action, as the characters have to immediately adjust and survive in a world where electricity no longer works. The first third of the book is compelling reading, I finish
Aug 11, 2011 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Uk! I didn't like this book and didn't find it believable at all. Maybe it's because I live in Portland, but I gave up after the scene where the bad guy takes over the public library and makes it his palace complete with willing nubile slave girls... after just a few weeks! Sorry, the massive lesbian population here would have had that dude strung up on a lamp post in nano-seconds... and that before we even consider adding the adding all the feminists and hard core religious zelots into the mix. ...more
May 12, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: die-hard apocalypse fans only
Shelves: apocalypse, yawn, meh
It’s been a while since my last apocalypse (not counting The Walking Dead on AMC, naturally), so it was with anticipation that I opened Dies the Fire. While it scratched some of those survivalist itches, unfortunately, when I finished, I felt nothing but relief. And not the good kind.

Actually, I feel kind of ranty about the book. It is such an archtypical tale, an Aesop’s fable with details–lots and lots of details–but no originality, no finesse in characterization or plotting that it is really
Sep 01, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have always been fascinated with the post-apocalyptic fiction genre. After some woolgathering on why, I have decided it is because it makes me appreciate the postmodern world I live in. Every time I eat a banana, buy strawberries or raspberries imported from Equator in the middle of winter, or when I simply turn the hot water on in my sink; it reminds me of how lucky I am. Take tap water for instance! Most people won’t even drink it, but I’m glad I don’t have to drill my own well and stoke up ...more
Outstanding portrayal of the phases of life and civilization in a post-apocalyptic situation in which a mysterious event causes permanent failure of most technology, notably electrical and internal combustion machinery and gunpowder. Once I got past that unlikely premise, I was seriously hooked and every aspect that follows was a believable and compelling account of survival and social evolution in a world stripped of technology. Most of the action takes place in Idaho and Oregon, with working f ...more
Feb 24, 2008 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: No one
I didn't finish this one. The story was fairly interesting at the start--a compelling scenario, a number of potentially interesting characters--but it fizzled fairly quickly. It comes off mostly as an adolescent male fantasy where D&D geeks rule with their sword mastery. I actually laughed at the main bad guy, who had assembled gang leaders from across the city, dazzled them by killing four men at once with his awesome sword skills, and had scantily-clad (and very frightened) women serving t ...more
Jun 02, 2014 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Masturbatory fantasy for older white men who feel smug in their own sense of superiority. In which real rugged man's men persevere at the fall of civilization to build a new world in the ashes of the old. Lots of "we need only one leader, not a committee" bullshit to justify strong arm tactics. Lots of colonialism, particularly in Stirling's digs at the Nez Perce tribes loss of traditional knowledge, portraying it as an aspect of how a people had degraded without any mention or even hint of the ...more
Jan 05, 2013 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This book is terrible, it might be one of the worst pieces of fantasy writing I have ever come across. The basic plot device seems simple enough, humanity is abruptly forced to live without technology again as unknown forces cause anything more complicated than edged weapons to stop working.

That's all well and good, you can build something interesting around that. What we get from Stirling are one dimensional characters written to satisfy stereotypes. Every character has one defining aspect, for
Jul 06, 2007 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Interesting speculative history/dystopian novel as to what would happen if all electronic devices and firearms were suddenly inoperable. The answer: only the Ren Faire geeks/history reenactor buffs would survive.

I enjoyed this well enough, but I don't see me pursuing the entire series. Fun characters, though, and lots to talk about regarding social structures, canibalism, etc.

But by the Three-Aspect Goddess, I'm so glad that my Wiccan friends don't talk like Lady Juniper! Sheesh!
Look. It's not that I went into this "not knowing" that it was going to be bad. Of course it was going to be bad. It's 'classic' sci fi pulp. (Dude, the premise is that magically all technology stops working and so people have no choice but to return to a Dark Ages-esque social system. And the people who are best-suited for life in this new world order are . . . LARPers. Riiiight.)

So basically this is a really straight-faced version of this scenario:

If, for some reason, that image causes you
On an afternoon in early March, the world gets hit with some kind of phenomenon that causes all energy sources to stop functioning. Basically all forms of combustion stop working the way they used, even steam power doesn't work. Bullets no longer fire, explosives have no effect. It's like the properties of physics are instantly "Changed". Suddenly modern society must survive as they did in the ages before modern science and technology.

This story is told from the perspective of two very different
Adi Greif
Jul 11, 2014 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: couldn-t-finish
The main male protagonist is so bigoted in so many ways, and the consequences of the 'apocalypse' so hilarious, I couldn't keep reading. Big-picture: the author believes that by reverting technology backwards a thousand years, all of human society must be organized as farmers or bandits that prey on farmers. Yup, nobody a thousand years ago had cities or complex public works. But what was hilarious is that he depicts Renaissance Fair hobbyists who practice with swords as most likely to rule the ...more
Nov 02, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a reread of a book I feared would not be near as good eight years later. I was pleasantly surprised. Very interesting premise with the author putting a lot of thought into how the big change would affect things I would have never even thought of.

I still think its a bit heavy on the LoTR and Renaissance fair stuff, and a bit of shock value from PURE EVIL characters was unnecessary when the change itself is brutal and completely unforgiving. But overall I enjoyed it alot this second time
Kathy Davie
Oct 28, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: dystopian
First in the Emberverse dystopian series and revolving around two primary sets of good guys and one horror of a man. These events occur throughout the Northwest in 1998. Phew, dodged that bullet…

My Take
It begins with one group's story and then segues into other individual stories as that EMP pulse hits the world and takes out every electronic device and modern weapon known to man. Humanity is reduced to whatever can be worked by hand: bows and arrows, swords, knives, hammers, handsaws, and the l
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jan 30, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: SCAers who always wanted to be REAL warlords, Tolkien-loving archers, bear killers
Dies the Fire goes through the usual paces in an end-of-the-world novel: civilization collapses, there is much confusion and rioting, a few lucky/prepared ones are situated such that they don't starve while all the city-dwellers run out of food, there's a massive die-off, and then the most organized, ambitious, and/or ruthless are setting up fiefdoms.

The gimmick here is that "the Change" that causes the end of civilization literally changes the laws of physics. Gunpowder, internal combustion, an
Feb 13, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi
This book reminded me of watching some of my favorite B movies. It was fun in that respect. I had no expectations. In the beginning I realized that this was by no means great literature. There was a fair amount of repetition. It made some pretty large leaps over reality. It also dragged a lot in the middle. But it was fun the way B movies are fun. So I have to go with 4 stars because it provided a nice escape.

May 05, 2008 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
The idea presented in this book of a world suddenly without electricity and gunfire seemed interesting enough and I've already read the first book of the Island in the Sea of Time trilogy (and liked it a lot) that is somewhat linked with the universe shown in this book so I thought I'd give it a try. It started somewhat slow but I kept going. It didn't even bother me much when the coincidences of meeting just the right people started piling up, after all without them the book would probably be b ...more
The premise is a little weak, I thought. This mysterious event happens that changes the laws of physics, yet there's no particular explanation for it. The novel is entirely alternate history, except for this nebulous fantasy set-up. Nevertheless, I enjoyed the story immensely, felt it was well developed once I accepted the fantasy lead-in. The story had more than its share of convenient strokes-of-good-luck, but hey, you have to keep the characters alive somehow, right?
Stephanie *Very Stable Genius*
Dies The Fire is dead. I could not finish it, I just didn't care about any of it. I gave it half way through, but could take no more.
Tom Kepler
May 22, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What happens when the lights go out . . . for good?

The Change occurred when an electrical storm centered over the island of Nantucket produced a blinding white flash that rendered all electronic devices and firearms inoperable--and plunged the world into a dark age humanity was unprepared to face . . .

S.M. Stirling has written a trilogy of novels about how humanity adapts to the sudden, catastrophic change in potentialities: where, basically, the technologies of medieval times are all that "w
Adam Czarnecki
Dec 03, 2009 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Had to set this one down about half way through. I was on page 260ish out of something like 500, so I tried, but I just didn't want to waste any more time on this story that was giving me nothing but laughs. I don't want laughs out of my apocalyptic epics, especially when the author isn't trying to be funny.

Many other reviews have pointed out this book's flaws--the implausibility of everyone knowing how to build bows and arrows and chain mail armor, the uninspired and one dimensional characters,
Mar 25, 2015 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobook, fantasy
You know, I really should have liked this book. Civilization collapses (albeit in a fairly silly fashion) and the gritty reality of how insulated we are from the necessities of survival quickly become clear. And the writing itself was fine, for the most part.

I don't know, maybe it's just coming off a re-read of A Song of Ice and Fire, but protagonists who always say and do exactly the right thing, who are incredibly lucky at every important turn, and who never even suffer reversals of fortune th
Jan 16, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Thank the maker... this book took me forever to read because it was much more fantasy then I expected. I thought... SF all the way. I mean, power goes out and everything that we know of is lost, but nay, it was the other way around. Power was out and the next thing I know, the people of the book are now living a life like that of the medieval times... And I should of known it would be like that. When the world ends and there is no power, it only makes sense that life will become like that of Kin ...more
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Around the Year i...: Dies The Fire, by S.M. Stirling 1 12 Jun 26, 2017 09:26PM  
What's The Name o...: Postapocalyptic fiction set in Northwest [s] 3 44 Oct 30, 2013 09:07AM  
Wrong spelling of the author's name 1 10 Oct 20, 2013 06:51PM  
SciFi and Fantasy...: Dies The Fire - March 2013 21 67 Mar 22, 2013 02:02PM  
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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...

Other Books in the Series

Emberverse (1 - 10 of 14 books)
  • 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)
  • The Golden Princess (Emberverse, #11)

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“Now let's move on to the subject of how a real man treats his wife. A real man doesn't slap even a ten-dollar hooker around, if he's got any self respect, much less hurt his own woman. Much less ten times over the mother of his kids. A real man busts his ass to feed his family, fights for them if he has to, dies for them if he has to. And he treats his wife with respect every day of his life, treats her like a queen - the queen of the home she makes for their children.” 111 likes
And the first king was a lucky soldier. 19 likes
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