Title: Dies the Fire
Author: S. M. Stirling
Format: Kindle, Paperback
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Dies the Fire is the first in a long series of post apocalyptic fantasy by S. M. Stirling. The basic premise of the novel, and it’s sequels, involves the repercussions of humanity losing all ability to user electronics and modern fuel-based engineering.
It’s a bit of a ‘deus ex machina’ premise – it requires that the laws of physics and nature are changed to allow for the events of the book to occur – but then again most fantasy allows for magic / warp gates / teleportation / magical creatures, so I never really got hung up on one supernatural force.
The story follows three major factions through their struggles to recreate new civilizations in the ruins of Oregon. The Bearkillers are a ragtag group led by former marine Mike Havel. Havel and those with him crash land in the forests of Idaho and slowly make their way to Oregon, picking up new followers along the way and establishing themselves as one of the premier fighting outfits in the new world. The second group is led by Juniper Mackenzie, a wiccan folk singer who is in the town of Corvallis during ‘The Change’ the event that renders gunpowder weapons and gasoline engines inoperable. She leads a small group to her cabin in the woods and begins building a neo-celtic society. The third group, who receive less focus but play a major role in the story, is the Portland Protective Association, or PPA. The PPA is founded by Norman Arminger, a professor of medieval history who seizes the opportunity to rise to power during the chaotic aftermath of the Change. The PPA establishes a protectorate in Portland, and runs it’s land as a feudal system, complete with dukes, barons, and even serfs.
The story jumps back and forth between the Bearkillers and Clan Mackenzie, occasionally following several characters who encounter the PPA. It’s a detail-heavy novel and there is quite a bit of discussion on creating new (or rather old) weapons, such as swords, pikes, bows, and catapults, using modern day equipment and materials. The novel stands strong by itself, but is even better if you read on to the next two books, The Protectors War and A Meeting at Corvallis.