If you haven't heard of the Emberverse series I would not be very surprised. In some ways it is a cult classic series and in other ways it is very main stream. It falls firmly into the fantasy genre with a passing nod to the alternative history genre. This three part series written by S.M Stirling begins its story in the late 1990's with a event that takes place on on a island located in the north Atlantic. In a blinding flash of light everything “Changed” and in this post Change world electricity doesn't work, gunpowder wont burn and cars do not run. The series is very character driven and follows three main groups of people and how these people survive and eventually thrive in this Changed world.
I personally am a huge fan of this series with the first three books being my favorite. The first novel Dies the Fire is depicts the time immediately after the Change and how the characters in the novel deal with the Change. The second The Protectors War takes place 9-10 years into the Change and mainly centers around the various society that now exist jockeying for position in the new world they all live in now. They third book the Meeting at Corvallis takes place soon after the second with the Protector launching a all out war against the other inhabitants of the region. If you are not already pumped to read this series continue onward and read my three reasons why you should read this series.
Reason 1-The Details
The plot itself is reason enough to read this series as far as I am concerned. Take a moment to imagine what you would do if suddenly life changed so completely from what you are used too. Could you thrive or even survive without electricity and supermarkets and heaven forbid your car. How the author portrays this Changed world and how his main characters survive it is just superb. His attention to the details of living in the Changed world is amazing to read and the extent to which he developed this basic idea is awe inspiring. The authors writes about the blisters on people hands from the hard farming labor and feeling the slap of bow strings on wrists as they shoot there bows and how they build fortifications and relearn how to live and possibly more important how to to die. Over time his characters learn what the Change affected as they test their new personal, social and technological limits.
Reason 2- The Characters
The three main characters in the series are the points upon which the story turns and evolves. My personal favorite is Juniper Mackenzie the de facto and reluctant leader of Clan Mackenzie. Her along with her coven of Witches form the core of this new clan and are one of the leading civilizations in the Changed world depicted in this trilogy. I like how the author develops her from a simple troubadour into a fierce and able leader of her people. The next main character is Mike Havel the leader of the Bearkillers a former army veteran and a pilot at the time of the Change. His introduction in the story is fairly unique compared to most in this world. He was flying a well to do family in a Piper Cub to their ranch in Montana when the Change hit and his plane engine dies mid flight. The crash leads to his and his passengers long journey across mountain learning the new skills of this world, fighting bandits, Eaters and earning their Bearkiller name. Finally every story needs a villain and in Emberverse we have Norman Arminger. His original character is your typically egotistical,bloodthirsty manic that thrives in the post Change world. However he moves beyond the overlord stereotype by the second and third book of the series as we are introduced to just how diabolical and cruel he can be. While he has the smallest part in the series in terms of pages written from his perspective his character and his kingdom loom over the whole story arc providing the evil that every good story needs
Reason 3- The What If
For me the biggest sell of this whole series is what if's that reading it generates. Would I survive when most people wouldn’t. When the chips are down and people come to take my food or try and hurt my loved ones would I have the stones to deal with them how they need to be dealt with. After I first finished this series my friends that had read it and I would sit around and “plan” what we would do if the end of life as we knew it came about in this fashion. We literally developed in-depth plans for how we would escape our college , where we would go and who we would take with us on the journey. If nothing else the what if that this story proposes is a great conversation starter as long as you don’t have people that panic easy in your discussion group.
For me personally this series influenced the life in more ways than just being a good read. When I asked myself the question would I survive my first instinct was to say of course I would. After I thought about it awhile though I realized I was and still am woefully unprepared for this or any other disaster scenario. So slowly and surely I have been “Changing” my life to become more self sufficient and independent from the life support system that is part of everyday life in this country. It is my hope that if something terrible does happen I wont be caught unawares and that I will be prepared.
This series is a excellent choice for anyone that like alternative history, fantasy, or anything with intriguing plots, well developed characters and a detailed world. This series can be found in many used and new bookstores, online and possibly at your local library.