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on 3 September 2012
If you've made it this far into the series, you're unlikely to abandon it now, although a certain foot-tapping desire to see the finish line is to be expected. It offers the same reading enjoyment, lavish plotting, and writing excursiveness to which we've all become accustomed. Character development, except in the rare cases where new characters are introduced, is at a series low, although most of the action occurs from the viewpoints of well-known players. Reliance on song, poetry and the mysteries of the Old Religion seemed heavier to me than in other volumes but perhaps I'm just one of the few to whom they never held much appeal. Overall, it's recognizably Stirling doing what Stirling does well, and I enjoyed it.

This isn't clearly the end of the series' line, nor is it a particularly satisfying penultimate volume. In fact, it reads a bit like an either/or: while the Darth Vader-equivalents finished the novel spinning away in their off-page Tie fighters, the majority of the heroes are becoming more or less settled in for what appears to be their final rewards. Nothing is quite resolved but neither is there much suggestion that substantial developments await the characters we've now spent several thousand pages following. When I first put the book down, I assumed it was an author/publisher compromise: "I can't get the whole story into less than 900 pages" meets "This is a reasonable stopping point, so we'll do it in two volumes." Now I wonder - Stirling likes his multi-generational plotting; perhaps his plan is a Richard/Henry/Henry tale where the grandson is the one to clear the last of the mess his grandfather stepped in? This book works as well as a reboot point as it does anything else, so why not? Whatever the next step is intended to be, a more suspenseful ending (or set of endings, in a plot this wide) would have helped.

Highly recommended, but not, perhaps, as highly as the first four books of the series: tying up a sprawling mega-plot may be taxing Stirling's abilities slightly more than launching it did.
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on 9 October 2012
A ripping good yarn, although the strategies and the use of technology may be a bit shaky. The battle scenes were excellent as always and the characterisations are good. However, there is too little of the "Real Politic" in the tale. Only a bit about the "Norsemen" of the East asking for some technology transfer as a "favour" A far heavier concentration of the "religion" of the Mackenzies than usual. Perhaps a bit more about the Bearkillers and the other allies would make a better balance of the story.

Overall, a good Sterling product. That's why I keep buying his books in hardback !
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on 9 October 2013
It was an ok read, very anticlimactic to be honest though. I loved this series but it just seems to be dragging the arse out of the story for the last two books, as in there was a ridiculous amount of there story dedicated to the two squires for no reason other than they'll become major players in future books which in turn means this series doesn't give the impression it'll be hitting the grand finale anytime soon. I totally thought maybe this book or the next would finally explain what this hell was going on on, as in who the big bad are...dark gods, super aliens, Bill Gates etc. In conclusion my patience is wearing thin with this series, I miss the good old days where a storyline would last 3 or 4 books in a series.
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on 26 February 2014
I have read the whole series, it has now been several years following the evolution of the world after the Change. But this book as different from the rest. First much shorter, which in principle should not be an issue. But more importantly, it felt as Stirling was not sure if he was closing down the Artos sub-serie and setting the stage for the next generation, or if it was simply necessary to print something now, quickly, not conclusive, to then continue with the end of the Artos sub-series.

Not sure now if I will follow the next set of books.
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on 21 February 2014
OK if you've lasted this long with the series, you want to find out what happens - at least that's why I bought the book. it is a case of good folk being good, bad folk being bad (except the Protectorate, which has lost all it's badness since the last showdown and become a lot more boring as a result!)

I read it because I want to find out what happens in the end - and I assume that's why most other people are keeping going as well. Let's hope the next one picks up a bit.
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on 10 January 2013
This was disappointing - it is only half a book IMO and I get the impression the next volume will be the second half. (I do believe these deals between publishers and authors for a certain number of books in the series do not necessarily benefit the readership.) I finished the book feeling somewhat shortchanged. Having read all the 'Change' books so far I'll continue but perhaps with less enthusiasm!
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on 27 March 2015
Completely love the whole Emberverse series, and this book was no exception.
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on 4 January 2016
Exactly what husband wanted for Christmas, arrived in good time.
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