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S.M.Sterling | Thatedeguy

Review: Dies The Fire

Dies the Fire by S.M. Sterling

Dies the Fire

By S.M. Sterling

I’ve always been a sucker for the history changers.  The people who forged a path that changed the world.  Martin Luther King comes to mind.  All the way down to that darn butterfly in the Amazon that everyone is so fond of talking about.  When you’ve changed the world, you’ve laid a path, woven a tale, and made things different.

So, it comes as no surprise to me that I like alternative history fiction.  What little of it I’ve read at least.  I cut my teeth on S.M. Sterling’s work with a novel of his called Conquistador.  It was a book that I had a hard time getting into, but it quickly became a page turner and was a great book.  Given that I liked Conquistador so much, I though that I’d give another book of Mr. Sterling’s a try.  This time around, a truly alternative history fiction.

Dies the Fire is a novel of The Change.  A singular event that changes the way the world works.  Combustible materials such as gas and gunpowder no longer combust with the same intensity that they did before.  What this accomplishes is to render useless all cars, guns and all electrical devices.  Consider that for a moment.  All cars, guns and electrical devices are rendered useless.  What would that mean for your everyday life?  Likely, the same things it meant for the characters in Dies the Fire.

The world is turned upside down, and is thrown into chaos.  As they people begin realizing what is going on and accepting that it might not change back, a few make the best of it and begin to gather the pieces.  Dies the Fire follows three groups of these people either directly or indirectly.  As we follow them through the first few days post-change, we begin to see a new kind of world emerge.  A post-modern world that has been thrust back hundreds of years into a new dark age.

Dies the Fire is a thrilling tale from start to finish.  The concept is pretty good, and the writing is also quite good.  But what really makes the novel, for me at least, is the way that S.M. Sterling has captured the interactions between the survivors of The Change.  Not only does he catch their struggle to deal with the new world, both emotionally and physically, he also catches the changes that occur as they begin to adapt to their new life in their new world.

If you’ve never read a novel by S.M. Sterling, this could be a good one to start on.  Beware, however, that it’s the first of a trilogy that has spawned a second trilogy and an upcoming third trilogy.  If you fall for the tale and the characters the way I did, you could be in for a 9 book journey.  They do read fast though, so it won’t be all bad.  Especially if you’re an alternative fiction fan, you should pick up Dies the Fire.