Audiobook Review: Lord of the Mountains by S.M. Stirling

8 10 2012

Lord of the Mountain (Emberverse Series, Book 9) by S.M. Stirling

Read by Todd McLaren

Tantor Audio

Length: 12 Hrs 55 Min

Genre: Post Apocalyptic Fantasy

Quick Thoughts: Lord of the Mountains is an enjoyable read for people who have invested in these characters. Stirling offers a touch of everything fans have grown to love, but its frustrating lack of forward progression of the plot makes Lord of the Mountains more of as snack before the big meal.

Grade: B

As a fan of post apocalyptic literature, it is always kind of cool when a new Post Apocalyptic TV series is launched. I always enjoy Post Apocalyptic TV shows even move than movies, because they have the time to give a more intense look at the way society adapts to a major catastrophe. I have enjoyed shows like Jericho, Jeremiah, The Walking Dead and Survivors because they explore the characters reactions to having the world stripped away from them. So, of course, I was excited about the launch of JJ Abrams new series Revolution. Revolution has one of the added bonuses of utilizing one of my favorite apocalyptic tools, the stripping away of electricity. One of my favorite books deals with this subject, and that book is SM Stirling’s Dies the Fire. Among Post Apocalyptic fans, Stirling’s Emberverse often leads to heated discussions. Most agree that Dies the Fire was a pretty decent look at what would happen is the chemical and electrical reactions that control so much of out modern technology was taken away in an instance. Yet, push it past the original fall of society, and fan reaction becomes mixed. Stirling has added religious and cultural tones to his book that causes society to group together in interesting ways, from a coven of Wiccan to a group who believes they are directly descendant from the elves of Tolkien all forming new societies. Many people find the convenience of having people with certain skills that are appropriate to the changed society show up as another negative of the series. I for one have always been a huge supporter of the series. As with most Post Apocalyptic tales, the story focuses on the Survivors, and anyone who survives such a drastic societal change is going to have a bit of luck, that if you look at it from an outside perspective seems overly fortuitous. Yet, I think most fans of the series will agree on one thing, if you like Revolution, you should really check out Dies the Fire. You know that huge jump in time in the pilot that disappointed some more hardcore fans, this is what Dies the Fire explores. And it is quite brutal.

Lord of the Mountains is the 9th book in Stirling Change Series, and the 6th in the series focused on the second generation and in particular, the rise of Rudy, the High King of Montival. In Lord of the Mountain, the war that has been brewing between The Cut with their Allies The United States of Boise and the recently formed collection of allies that make up the High Kingdom of Montival is finally happening.  As Rudy deals with the politics and logistics of getting his kingdom on a war footing, he also determines the need for an official ceremony for solidifying him and his High Queen Mathilda as rulers of their land. With The Sword of the Lady in hand Rudy and Mathilda are pulled to site in a mountain, and undergo a strange experience that fracture time and space. So, I loved being back in Stirling’s Emberverse World, among characters I really enjoy. That being said, for the most part, this book seemed like filler to extend the series. As a fan of the series, this gives me mixed feelings. It’s like a quick trip with family, you really enjoy being around the people that have brought so much to your life, but nothing really gets resolved. In Lord of the Mountains, there is a lot of good stuff happening. Stirling writes some of the best battle scenes with an emphasis on logistics that don’t get bogged down in the minutia, but the forward progression is barely there. Stirling has been building up this war between The Cut and Montival for so long, and we get a major battle that barely scratches the surface of the war. He throws in some cool mythology, and starts to set the plate for the next phase of the series yet you know that this aspect of the series is coming to its big finales and Lord of the Mountains doesn’t seem to add too much to that moment.  If you have made it to this ninth book of the series, then you are probably here for the long hall. Lord of the Mountains is an enjoyable read for people who have invested in these characters. Stirling offers a touch of everything fans have grown to love, but its frustrating lack of forward progression of the plot makes Lord of the Mountains more of as snack before the big meal.

There is a reason last years entry to this series, The High King of Montival, received an Audie nomination. Todd McLaren is brilliant in his delivery of this series. Stirling does some interesting linguistic things with this series, creating subcultures which utilize not just traditional accents, but affected versions of traditional accents. Much of the different cultures vocal styling come from the extrapolation of early mimicry of pop culture versions of accents. So, there are real Brits and Scotts and Nordic types, then those who create a manner of speaking based on what they believe Brits and Scotts and Nordic types should sound like. McLaren handles this wonderfully, and sometimes, with comic effect. Oh, and then there is Sindarin, the elfish language used by the Dunedain Rangers. These sort of vocal qualities make this series a whole lot of fun to listen to. McLaren simply goes for it, bringing all the various cultures to life. His crisp but meticulous pacing allows us the easily follow the elaborate battle scenes without getting lost in their many details. I am glad I transitioned from the print to the audio version of this series. I think it brings more of a cinematic feel to the story, and one that makes the experience pleasurable, even when the book itself may not live totally up to expectations.



One response

8 10 2012

I skimmed your review, because i’ve only read the first book in the series, Dies the Fire, which I loved to pieces. I had no idea this series had so many books in it!! i should at least give books 2 & 3 a try, no?

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