_The Change_ series by S M Stirling has ended

I just read Sky Blue Wolves, the (putatively) final novel in The Change series by S M Stirling. My reaction (to the book, and the series as a whole):

Meh. Once again, like the end of the Prophet’s War, he builds up a huge titanic conflict and then it just kind of piddles out. And another magic sorcerous quest, when we just had one last book, is a real letdown, and certainly not what I like(d) about the series to begin with. I think the strong point was the setting, the question of how society would reform, what clever things they would be able to do with the remnants of high tech, etc. Introducing magic to the mix was fun, when it wasn’t used as a cure-all insta-fix as it was here. And having purely heroic leaders with ultra-powerful magic swords was fun as well, particularly when discussing the drawbacks of having a magic sword that always let you tell when someone was lying, etc.

So, I would have loved a much longer and tougher siege of the evil castle, where a combination of cleverness and “new technology” and using the magic swords at key moments won the day, and there was a real sense of stake, and maybe some real characters died (Reiko could have sacrificed herself, knowing the sword would go to her sisters).

All of that said… I’ve eagerly read every book in the series, and always zipped through them, and the premise has gotten itself nicely wedged into my subconscious, to the extent that I’ve often found myself wondering what would be happening post-change wherever I happened to be. So obviously there’s a lot there that was right.

So… would I read any more books? Probably… but maybe what would be best would be more collections of short stories, not another trilogy-of-trilogies monstrosity. Little glimpses of cultures around the world, or little updates on the lives of our favorite characters (how will it be growing up as the only white girl in the Japanese imperial court? will Orrey’s daughter travel to Mongolia to meet her biological father?).

And of course, the other big story left to be told, which I kind of assumed is how the series would end, is… what if technology starts working again? It’s been long enough at this point that the dystopian cyberfuture has certainly been averted, so maybe the rules have to switch back to their normal state… but with magic still working. What happens then?

I’ll say that it should have been 3 books longer. Until about 80% through the last book, it seemed like he was setting a longer stage, and then WHAM! the book and series was over. I was kind of scratching my head on that one.

One other thing I really was hoping would be addressed:

In a few thousand years, are learned people going to be debating whether this “Change” that legend speaks of was real or not?

I kept waiting for someone, most likely either Sandra or Juniper, to bring this up, and to put some effort into building some kind of museum or collection of first person accounts or something, so that future historians would see overwhelming contemperaneous evidence of what happened. After all, even the stubs of skyscrapers will fall over eventually…

As I understand it, this isn’t the end of the series, but rather the end of this story arc. I’m thinking we’ll see another jump forward in time if/when he continues. It may be that Stirling will spend more time on other projects first.

Personally, I think I might be interested in what the Nantucketers have been up to in the Bronze Age.

First, is that really a spoiler? They don’t even address that at all in the books.

Second, I kind of get the impression that it’s permanent, and the the way it is, is the way it will be for a very long time, so there’s not really the need for a sort of warning to warn people several millennia after the end of the series. In other words, I don’t think that someday the Bearkillers’ gunpowder is going to spectacularly burn- at least not until enough time that the Bearkillers themselves are just a nation-state in ancient history along with the PPA and Montival itself.

Right. I don’t mean as a warning, I just meant because the people who lived through it wouldn’t want it to be forgotten. Sandra seems like someone who is concerned with her legacy, with history, etc., and also the kind of person who would think about future millenia. She wouldn’t want people in 1000 years to just thread “the change” as a fable, a myth, a rumor.

Agreed. I was never able to get into the other novels.

Ditto. “Dies the Fire” was interesting, but the rest of the novels bored me to tears. I gave up after #4. But the “Islands” books were great.

I liked his “Peshawar Lancers” and always wished he’d go back to that. It doesn’t look likely.

I haven’t read “Black Chamber” yet, although it looks interesting.

Dies The Fire is still a favorite, and I’ve reread it and the next 2 books several times. After them, Stirling turns the series into something different, and while I love the initial setting and the characters, I don’t think I finished the 5th book. May have bought the 6th, but never cracked it, and nothing after that. Ah well.

Yeah, of his stuff that I’ve read, that seemed like the most interesting setting for stories.

I think I gave up after #3, but, yeah. I loved the initial world-building, then it lost me.

Yeah, it was at its best up through the initial set (Juniper, Mike, Sam, Norman, etc…) and became more of a weird adventure series with the advent of the second set which dealt with Rudi, Mathilda, Ingolf, Edain, Mary, Ritva, etc… As long as I kept that in mind, it wasn’t so bad, plus it had a lot of exposition/world-building in that we got to see how the rest of the world outside of the Willamette valley did.

The third set (Orlaith, Reiko, etc…) wasn’t awesome, but I stuck it out to see where it went. I thought it would have been far more interesting to have it center around Deor and Thora’s circumnavigation, rather than make it a repeat of the second set, only with minor international tweaks.

It wasn’t Stirling’s decision to end the series with this book; it was his publisher’s.

Remind me to send Roc a Christmas card.

I can’t blame them. I enjoyed it through Rudi’s story, and then it went downhill. It was mildly interesting to explore the world a generation later, but not that interesting. I was also not invested in the characters at all. When it became clear that the plan was to Just in case someone does not know this - kill off each successive protagonist as a sacrifice, well then I had no incentive to feel any relationship to the characters at all. The Big Bad was just a recycle too. It’s a shame, because Stirling could have gone in different directions that would have kept things going. I thought he would work on connecting the different states that were forming and building a “United Kingdom” as it were. There were strong hints about ties to Arthurian legend. Nope, stop and pivot.

I’m broadly in agreement with alphaboi867, silenus, Sunny Daze and tripthicket. The first three “Change” books were gripping, though – perhaps I’m an insipid “nursery tales” kind of customer – the extreme grimness of what happened to 20th-century society as a result of said Change, never sat all that well with me. After that, in my view the series went utterly to ratshit by “going all magical / mystical / mythological” – I carried on to the end of #5, and then abandoned the series for good. Am most pleased to see this thread, which I find an answer to my recurring prayer of a fair few years past – “PLEASE, MAKE IT STOP !”

For a while, I considered myself a Stirling fan; but see cause for much modifying that – it would appear that in fact, I only enjoyed his “middle period” – the Nantucket trilogy, Peshawar Lancers, and Conquistador. (The General series, with David Drake, was quite fun too.) I was seemingly odd in finding the Draka stuff – generally regarded as brilliantly horrific – somewhat dull.