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St. Antony's Fire [Mass Market Paperback]

Steve White

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Book Description

23 Nov 2009
Elizabethan England is menaced by a Spain - armed with Alien Weapons - in this Alternate History Adventure with a twist.

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About the Author

Steve White completed a tour of duty in Vietnam as a Naval officer. With David Weber, he has collaborated on "Insurrection," "Crusade," "In Death Ground," and the "New York Times" best seller "The Shiva Option." His recent books for Baen include "Forge of the Titans," "The Prometheus Project"" "and "Blood of the Heroes."

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 3.9 out of 5 stars  9 reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars slightly disappointing 12 April 2010
By Jonathan D. Herbst - Published on
Format:Mass Market Paperback|Verified Purchase
While the book was a pleasant read, it left me wanting more. Especially after reading many of his other stories
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars E.T. meets alternate history 2 Sep 2009
By booksforabuck - Published on
Searching for the fountain of youth in Florida, Ponce de Leon comes across a strange metal structure. He gets his wish of long-lasting youth, but at a horrible price. Somehow his presence brings aliens back to life and these aliens establish themselves as a holy order. When Spanish King Phillip decides to launch the Armada against England, alien monks of the St. Anthony order go along...and use anti-matter technology to defeat the English fleet which, in our own world, harrassed the powerful Armada to its destruction.

With the English fleet destroyed, the Spanish army invades England, quickly routing the ill-trained volunteers who face them. Elizabeth faces exile. On the advice of her councilors, she decides to flee to the newly established colony of Roanoke, in Virginia. Her advisors have concluded that the aliens are searching for something in the Virginia area. If they can find it first, perhaps they'll be able to defend themselves against the horrific weapons from another dimension. Along with Elizabeth and her advisors, a young William Shakespeare tags along to provide comic relief.

From Native Americans in the Roanoke area, the English refugees learn of a mysterious place. Exploring, they fall through a gap between dimensions, landing in another version of Earth which was long-before invaded by the aliens currently attacking Earth. There they find allies. The aliens, or Grella, have invaded multiple dimensions. The locals have fought a guerilla war for centuries, and have learned to use some of the Grella technologies. Still, even their combined forces are outnumbered and outgunned by the powerful Grella.

Author Steve White mixes alternate future with E.T. in a generally enjoyable story. White's writing engages the reader, and his fight scenes were exciting and well-done. A couple of flaws and something that's perhaps personal taste kept me from giving this story an even higher rating. First, for me, the joy of alternate history is an author's vision of how the world is changed by different choices or events. In ST. ANTHONY'S FIRE, we didn't really get to see much of the alternate world and, in fact, spent a lot of time in a different dimension altogether. I also found the Shakespeare bits to feel forced, throwing me out of the suspension of disbelief needed for SFF. I also had a hard time with some of the basic premises. It was hard for me to believe that the Grella were not able to re-locate the lost dimension portal that the English found so easily. As they knew the rough area where the English had emerged, surely they would have brought their equipment to bear. Second, the notions that the Grella lost their ability to reproduce, yet seemed so fragile and died so easily, were hard to reconcile. Even with their ability to ressurect, they should be a dying species, certainly not an expansionary one. Third, that the Eilonwe are able to operate a guerilla war within miles of the main Grella base on their world strikes me as implausible.

I also had a hard time with the religious discussion and the willingness of the Europeans to accept that the Grilla (and Eilonwe) were extra-terestrial rather than demons. Elizabeth repeatedly argues that Catholics were not persecuted for their religion...only if they were traitors. Elizabeth's legitimacy depends on her rejection of Catholicism (otherwise her father's marriage to Elizabeth's mother was invalid and she loses any claim on the throne). In fact, Catholics were denied many basic rights for centuries in England. Likewise, Elizabeth and others quickly adopt modern ideas of female roles, with nobody being shocked about the beautiful ninja, Virginia Dare (who somehow independently developed kenjitsu fighting techniques and the katana). I love warrior-women in fiction, but I had a hard time believing Dare would be accepted so easily.
4.0 out of 5 stars I needed this to help rebuilt my paper library 29 July 2013
By Susan Kerr - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I did the copyediting on this book back in 2008 and I always like to have mementos around.

This is not your classic pointy-headed alien sci-fi yarn. Well, yes, the grey aliens do make an appearance and are definitely the bad guys. But you also meet a William Shakespeare who you've never met before -- a scrappy kid with little experience of the wider world but ready to lend a hand in a crisis.

"St. Antony's Fire" will not show up in an anthology of the best sci-fi of the 21st century. On the other hand, if you're looking for a good yarn, think Good Queen Bess was one of the great historical broads and wonder what happened to Raleigh's Lost Colony, you're going to have fun reading it.
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An alternate universe story set in 1588 Spain 10 Feb 2009
By Midwest Book Review - Published on
An alternate universe in which Ponce de Leon has discovered a dangerous mythical secret that could change the world is presented in Steve White's ST. ANTHONY'S FIRE, an alternate universe story set in 1588 Spain and telling of weapons so powerful they seem sorcery to the world they are changing. Fast-paced action, intrigue, and dangerous interactions both political and scientific in nature make for a fine alternate world/high-tech novel science fiction libraries will find compelling.
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars History turned sideways 22 Nov 2008
By Tom in Texas - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This book was a lot of fun to read, and it kept my interesting all the way through. The premise is simple -- Ponce de Leon's search for the Fountain of Youth doesn't turn up the fountain, but does stumble upon the wreckage of an alien spaceship.

From that premise, the result is a pretty wild ride -- aliens in the Spanish Armada that attempted to invade England. Shakespeare and Queen Elizabeth as part of a group fighting those aliens on another world. While some of it isn't especially plausible, it is all fun to read.
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