Despite it’s title, S.M. Stirling’s The Protector’s War, the second volume in a trilogy that started with Dies The Fire isn’t about war in the Post-Change Williamette Valley so much as it’s about the precursors to a war between survivors in a new world that seems all but inevitable.
This second volume starts eight years after an event, as yet unexplained, that renders in operable all modern technology and reduces humanity to a level roughly comparable to the European Middle Ages. And, appropriately enough, it starts in Europe itself where we get a small glimpse of how the Change has impacted the rest of the world.
Suffice it to say it isn’t pretty. With small exception pretty much all that’s left of Europe is in an England ruled by King Charles III who, and this for some reason doesn’t seem too far a stretch, seems to have gone mad with power. Form there we follow Nigel Loring, a former SAS officer, on a trip around what’s left of the world that eventually leads him to the central stage of the story in the Pacific Northwest.
Ingeniously, Stirling is able to unravel dual plot, occurring months apart, and then weave them together at the point when the protagonists finally meet. Done differently, the whole plot would have fallen apart half way through the novel, but Stirling weaves everything together in a way that makes complete sense.
There are, as with the first volume, annoyances in this volume of the trilogy, most of which center around Stirling’s fascination with the Wiccanism of Juniper Mackenzie, but those are minor compared to the things that make this a great part of a great story.
On the whole, this was a worthy continuation of the trilogy