Top critical review
What. The. Heck?
on 20 January 2013
Books one and two of this series were bawdy, frenetic page turners. Bursting with vivacious inventiveness, bold characters, sweeping plot lines and impeccable realism. I was glued to the previous books as 20th Century Nantucket battled to preserve it's values and influence against the bronze age world.
What on earth happened here? Minor characters from the earlier books are endlessly and formulaically revisited, always in the same fashion. E.g someone is going somewhere, they aren't there, but they're going there. What can they see? What do they think about it? What else is going through their head? What can they see now, what do they think about that? What is the person next to them wearing, does it have pleats? On, and on, and on.
Little of it moves the exciting denouement of 'Against the Tide of Years' forward and by the time I had got 300 pages in I had basically forgotten what the point of any of it was and did something I hardly ever do with fiction books; I started scanning and skipping ahead. Just to see if anything, something, was actually going to happen.
Well the book ends, one gets the impression with the ending that Stirling had had about as much fun writing it as I found reading it and just wanted it over. There was little satisfaction for the reader who had tracked the travails of Marion Alston, William Walker et al over three books and expected a tumultuous climax.
Its been 12 years since this came out so I doubt there will be any more, in any case I dont think its a journey many readers would want to accompany him on now.