Review of Dies the Fire by S. M. Stirling

S. M. Stirling presents his first Novel of the Change, the start of the New York Times bestselling postapocalyptic saga set in a world where all technology has been rendered useless.

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

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 McKenzie was singing and playing guitar in a pub when her small Oregon town was thrust into darkness. Now, taking refuge in her family’s cabin with her daughter and a growing circle of friends, Juniper is determined to create a farming community to benefit the survivors of this crisis.

But even as people band together to help one another, others are building armies for conquest…

Firstly, this book was recommended to me by a friend we’ll call B, who has gotten messages of what I saw as foreshadowed, any time I was irritated or frustrated. Poor B. Thanks for the recommendation!

This books starts out with Havel, and from there, we see all sorts of interesting people, places and things. It was quite interesting to see what people knew of survival and how to get by if they didn’t have technology. In the beginning I called deus ex machina on Juniper’s situation and how things all seemed to magically be available for her and her group to set up, however, this is explored and remarked on in the book as well. My friend was quite surprised to see that I much preferred Havel’s side of things, as Juniper just seemed almost too perfect. It seemed as if Juniper was never really in any real trouble, though I wouldn’t say leading people would be easy. In many ways both Havel and Juniper end up just happening to find the best/most useful people, which is an extreme case of luck. The average people would not fair so well.

I quite liked all of the mentions of Wiccan holidays, and all of the Celtic sayings. I was quite amused that cows were consistently mentioned as “milch” cows. It was interesting to follow the two different schools of thought on how to go forward after the event– either try to adapt back to how things were in history, essentially forcing people to share with you, or get a group together and do the work necessary to work for that which you’ll need going forward- namely food.

I’d also like to note that I greatly dislike Bill Waters, and I’m sure if you read this, you will as well.

A note that B definitely got as soon as I finished was: I know you warned me, but what the hell kind of ending was that?! It was advised I’d want the second book to start delving into it right away, but I hadn’t wanted to potentially ruin anything coming up, so instead I was left in a state of flux and uncertainty.

*Synopsis personally changed to say Michael HAVEL instead of Pound. Not sure where that error came from, but his name is definitely Michael Havel.

Star rating: ✯✯✯✯

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