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Conquistador Hardcover – 1 Feb 2003

4.4 out of 5 stars 14 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 438 pages
  • Publisher: Roc; First Printing edition (Feb. 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0451459083
  • ISBN-13: 978-0451459084
  • Product Dimensions: 16.2 x 3.6 x 23.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,927,773 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

"The moral landscapes of this novel are intriguing, and the sight of an undeveloped West Coast is unforgettable."

"In this luscious alternative universe, sidekicks quote the Lone Ranger and Right inevitably triumphs with panache. What more could adventure-loving readers ask for?"-Publishers Weekly

"A novel of complex landscapes, both moral and geographical...Copious amounts of suspense and action." -Locus

"The moral landscapes of this novel are intriguing, and the sight of an undeveloped West Coast is unforgettable."-Scifi.com" --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

S. M. Stirling is the author of numerous novels, both on his own and in collaboration. A former lawyer and an amateur historian, he lives in the Southwest with his wife, Jan. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
With Conquistador S.M. Stirling maintains and builds on the standard his readers have come to expect from the author of the Draka and Island in the Sea of Time series. Like Stirling's last offering, The Peshawar Lancers, Conquistador is essentially an Alternate History, although partaking also of elements of other genres such as techno-thriller, action-adventure, crime, utopian romance and even Western. It will be of interest therefore not just to diehard SF and AH fans, but to those who enjoy these other genres.
The tale opens in 1946, when John Rolfe VI, wounded WWII combat veteran and scion of an old (by US standards!) if now impoverished Virginian colonial family accidentally creates a mysterious shimmering silver gateway in the cellar of his Oakland, California, house, whilst tinkering with his radio set (a fine vintage 1940s SF plot device this!) A gate which opens on another America, undiscovered by Europeans, through which Rolfe and those he lets in on his secret can go back and forth at will, even if they have no idea how it works.
It is typical of Stirling's impressive historical erudition and worldbuilding skills that he supplies a detailed, convincing allohistorical rationale for this. A timeline in which Alexander the Great did not die young, but went on to found an empire from the Atlantic to the Bay of Bengal. Whilst Poul Anderson in Eutopia built a hi-tech Hellenistic scientific-industrial 20-Century civilization on this premise, Stirling equally convincingly goes the opposite way. His Hellenistic Eurasian empire has stagnated by 1946 at a medieval level, with quarrelsome successor states surrounded by barbarian tribes, and thus has yet to cross the Atlantic. An Appendix describing in some detail the world thus created is a fascinating addendum to Stirling's tale.
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Format: Hardcover
With Conquistador S.M. Stirling maintains and builds on the standard his readers have come to expect from the author of the Draka and Island in the Sea of Time series. Like Stirling's last offering, The Peshawar Lancers, Conquistador is essentially an Alternate History, although partaking also of elements of other genres such as techno-thriller, action-adventure, crime, utopian romance and even Western. It will be of interest therefore not just to diehard SF and AH fans, but to those who enjoy these other genres.
The tale opens in 1946, when John Rolfe VI, wounded WWII combat veteran and scion of an old (by US standards!) if now impoverished Virginian colonial family accidentally creates a mysterious shimmering silver gateway in the cellar of his Oakland, California, house, whilst tinkering with his radio set (a fine vintage 1940s SF plot device this!) A gate which opens on another America, undiscovered by Europeans, through which Rolfe and those he lets in on his secret can go back and forth at will, even if they have no idea how it works.
It is typical of Stirling's impressive historical erudition and worldbuilding skills that he supplies a detailed, convincing allohistorical rationale for this. A timeline in which Alexander the Great did not die young, but went on to found an empire from the Atlantic to the Bay of Bengal. Whilst Poul Anderson in Eutopia built a hi-tech Hellenistic scientific-industrial 20-Century civilization on this premise, Stirling equally convincingly goes the opposite way. His Hellenistic Eurasian empire has stagnated by 1946 at a medieval level, with quarrelsome successor states surrounded by barbarian tribes, and thus has yet to cross the Atlantic. An Appendix describing in some detail the world thus created is a fascinating addendum to Stirling's tale.
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By A Customer on 11 Dec. 2004
Format: Mass Market Paperback
As an English reader, I only became aware of Stirling's work through alternative history sites. I greatly enjoyed his Sea of Time trilogy, but like most readers got a bit bored by the long drawn out battles, culminating in the disastrous third volume.
Conquistador is just as imaginative, but far better written. Some of the best Sea of Time passages are the heart aching descriptions of a vanished Eden of ecological richness. These are greatly extended in Conquistador. The development of characters is impressive, with Rolfe a far more subtle individual than Walker.
This book is much better paced than his Island anthology. My copy is 582 pages long- but the pace is breathtaking. Constant shifts in time and place maintain the action - without getting confusing.
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Format: Hardcover
The good news: Very very well written and researched. There is 3 times more content per page here than you will find in 90% of your average sf novels.
The not so good news: The story line is strictly rutine. Seen before many times.
The not at all good news: The characters are boring. This is IMHO Stirling's chief weakness as a writer. They have max 3 qualities each. It is a problem for the reader (or at for least this reader) when s/he at the end of a book does not care if the good guys kill the bad guys or the other way round. OK, there are silver linings. This is not a good guys versus bad guys story. It is the in mafia versus the out mafia. This is an improvement on Star Wars and Stirling must be thanked. And the heroine is not Cinderella. Instead the hero is Cinderfella, in fact very much so. Nice.
Another matter: Alternative history novels usually start with the beginning and work their from there (as in Stirling's Nantuckett trilogy). Here the story starts 60 years after. This is new and not unwellcome.
Bottomline:
If you are a Stirling fan, buy the hard cover.
If you are interested in ecology and green stuff, buy the hard cover.
If you are a normal sf fan, wait for the paperback.
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