For some of you, the above reference will have a very specific meaning. But I’m not talking about that. I’m talking about this:
I wrote about this series a while back, and I had only read the first one or two books. Then, I thought there were only three. When I got to the end of the third book, there were suddenly three more, so I started reading again. Now, I just finished the sixth book, and realized there are three MORE books. This guy is prolific–and addictive. Part of the lure for me is the quest. During the course of this tale, the main characters, who are situated in Oregon, come to know that the big event that changed everything supposedly happened on Nantucket Island. The character above, Rudi, is tasked with the quest of traveling there to see if, indeed, that is the case, and also to pick up a particular item that appears to have been placed there for him. I can’t give too much away. So, he and his band of companions must make a cross-country trip across a land that has become completely alien and deadly.
I think I come by my walking gene honestly. When we moved to Georgia from Oklahoma, I used to dream about running away, with my dog, and walking back to where I spend the three happiest years of my life up until that point. I thought about how I would travel, across county, staying off the roads, figuring out what I would eat, how I could carry things, making campfires, etc. When I think about it, it was a pretty sophisticated plan for a 4th grader, if I say so myself. Of course, I never did it, but I sure wanted to. The trek in this book reminds me of that–only with people who are much better trained and prepared, and in circumstances much more dangerous. This book takes place twenty-three years after the big Change event, so an entire generation of young people are living who were born after the lights went out. They have never known electricity, TV, refrigeration with anything other than ice, or any sort of electronic or explosive device. They train from toddlerhood with bow and arrow, knife and sword. They ride horses. They farm. What’s so interesting is how this author makes you think about how even their thought processes have changed–the absolute importance of community, the strength of a given word, all of that. Human nature hasn’t changed much–people are still trying hard to take over land and power and killing folks who disagree with them, but it harder, and on a much smaller scale. And when they fight, it’s literally to preserve their lives and their communities.
I just picked up the above book at the library today, so you know where I’ll be when I’m not working. Stirling’s prose is dense–his battle descriptions are the written equivalent of Mel Gibson’s Bravehart scenes. His research is exhaustive and I’ve honestly never read anyone who could create alternate histories with such depth and sheer believability. There are times when I think I could walk out of my house and BE in that world. That’s talent, folks, talent and hard work.
I’m really happy that my library seems to have all these books, but I tell you, after I’m done with all of them, I may have to buy them anyway. This tale is a keeper, for sure.