S.M. Stirling's new Emberverse novel "The Golden Princess" comes out 09/02/14

Nine chapters online now.

Look, let’s face it, we all know why we love this series: It’s The Nerd’s Dream! Stirling has invented a plausible world where we can see medieval knights, Celtic archers, Highland Scots warriors, Roman legionaries, cowboys, Indians, and Dunedain Rangers all fighting on the same battlefield! And now – samurai!

Based on what I’ve read so far, I think the Empress Reiko will soon be going on her own Quest – to recover the sword Kusanagi-no-Tsurugi – the real one, long believed lost – from . . . from Sleeping Beauty Castle at Disneyland, Anaheim CA. No, really.

Re Stirling: I loved the Nantucket trilogy, the two Lords of Creation books, and Conquistador - they’re what I’d most like to see more of. The first Emberverse trilogy was good, as were the short stories “A Murder in Eddsford” and “Something for Yew,” both set in England a generation or so after the Change. As I said somewhere upthread, I gave up on the Emberverse a long time ago - somewhere around the beginning of the fifth book, I think - but I may try the new trilogy.

My favourite Turtledove books are Noninterference and the Greek Traders series.

A lot of Dopers did when Stirling started working real magic into it. Still, I don’t see how that detracts from the battle-action. Stirling consistently writes the most vivid combat scenes I’ve ever read, much better than anything else in “military SF,” and it’s still real combat, not Dresden Files combat.

Bumping this thread now that the book is out. I enjoyed it, but… it really just felt like a prologue. Finally at the end of it we have this interesting new cast of characters, a situation (going through Los Angeles) that has the potential to show some new post-change stuff we’ve never seen before, and then… the book ends.

Take out a whole bunch of lengthy and glowing descriptions of the crops grown at each different place and exactly what clothes people wear (and seriously, I know illustrations are “for kids”, but wouldn’t this be a great place to have some nice line-drawings of all the different styles of armor we’re hearing so much about?) and I feel like we could actually have room for 5 of 6 chapters of the quest actually beginning.
I was also intrigued by the chapter that took place in Darwin, although I feel like S M Stirling was underestimating the effect of a tropical climate with no air conditioning.

OK, I just callrd Barnes&Noble now that I’m reminded the book is out. I’ll pick it up tomorrow, and by the weekend I’ll post a review of my own.

Well, I think that was Stirling’s intention. From The Given Sacrifice:

And notice that in The Golden Princess, almost all the characters are new ones. (In fact, Edain is the only Quester of the older generation to appear on-camera, briefly; Mathilda and Ignatius never do). And almost all are of Orlaith’s generation. I think he decided to spend a whole book driving the point home, and exploring the personalities of persons who have grown up in a world where the pre-Change world is only something known from books and stories and ruins and whom the post-Change cultures have shaped entirely.


When I read that previous conversation, I was CERTAIN that Sandra and Juniper were going to work together and establish a “Museum of the Change” or something like that… something with testimonials etched onto metal along with long-lasting artifacts of the pre-change world that would serve to keep the change remembered as a historical event, rather than as something that will seem more and more like myth.

I still could have used a lot fewer length descriptions of what crops crow everywhere, however.

I believe Stirling does not regard this as a single series. It’s actually four (or maybe five) series that share a common background.

Series 0: The Nantucket Trilogy
Island in the Sea of Time
Against the Tide of Years
On the Oceans of Eternity

Series 1: The Aftermath
Dies the Fire
The Protector’s War
A Meeting at Corvallis

Series 2: The Quest
The Sunrise Lands
The Scourge of God
The Sword of the Lady

Series 3: The War
The High King of Montival
The Tears of the Sun
Lord of Mountains
The Given Sacrifice

Series 4: The Next Generation
The Golden Princess
The Desert and the Shore
as yet untitled third book

Where are they going to find that Japanese sword, I wonder? From Orlaith’s dream of “an odd castle, distorted,” I figured it would be in the only “castle” in Southern Cal – Sleeping Beauty Castle in Disneyland – recognizable as a castle to anyone familiar with the PPA, but three-fifths scale and, generally, distorted. But the location is supposed to be “through the Valley of Death,” and you needn’t go through Death Valley to get from LA to Anaheim.

There’s Scotty’s Castle in Death Valley. According to thetourism PRthere are eight castles in California.

Hearst Castle is of course super-famous, but nowhere near Death Valley. I think the castle might be a new post-change construction (although it being Disneyland would be fantastic).

But a post-Changeling would not recognize San Simeon as a castle at all – no fortifications; it’s a palace or manor house.

Well, one of those is a sandcastle competition, and one is a not-very-castellar San Francisco hotel.

This one has everything including a torture chamber, but it’s in Napa Valley, so that can’t be it.

May I point out that it doesn’t say Death Valley, it says the Valley of Death. Think you can find a valley in Southern California where a lot of deaths have occurred?

It occurs to me that Death Valley is somewhat between Las Vegas and L.A., and that Las Vegas has a “castle”. That would certainly help explain the “long trek through a hot alkali desert” dreams the main characters have been experiencing.

The entire Los Angeles metropolitan area was described as a charnel house within the books, post-Change. The area is naturally a desert, and without all of the irrigation that has been developed and built there in the 20th Century it would revert to back to the old desert. CI cn’t remember the specific book within the series, but it SMS definitely talks about a ‘dead zone’ around major cities that is proportional to population density pre-Change - meaning the more populous the city, the larger area around that city that can’t support life. That would leave Los Angeles as one of the two biggest dead zones in the post-Change United States.

Stirling also wrote that LA had a worse die-off than most cities. In most cities, food was the critical issue but in Los Angeles, as you note, there wasn’t enough water to keep the local population alive once technology disappeared.

Stirling does consider them separate series, but “The Quest” and “The War” are part of the same series that he calls “The Change.” And instead of seven books, the original plan (as outlined in a note either before or after The Sunrise Lands) was that the entire Quest and War would take up four books. How it bloated to seven I have no idea.

I’ve finished the book, and I liked it, but I’ll have to wait a while to give a better review. I just lost my dad in a traffic accident, an inattentive driver struck his motorcycle. I’d been reading about how Rudy’s loss affected Orlaith, and not getting it, but now I do. That influences how I feel about the book. But I did like it, better than the last one.

The Golden Princess is not a stand alone book. All it does is introduce a bunch of characters, set up their quest, foreshadow some of the dangers they’ll be facing in future books, and start them on the first week of the journey. There’s no subplot that gets resolved in this book.