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The Given Sacrifice: A Novel of the Change (Change Series) by S.M. Stirling
Review by Bill Lawhorn
Roc Hardcover  ISBN/ITEM#: 9780451417312
Date: 03 September 2013 List Price $27.95 Amazon US / Amazon UK

Links: Author's Website / Show Official Info /

This is the end, and the beginning. Rudi Mackenzie, High King of Montival, makes the final push to end the CUT threat for good. After the final battle he will be able to rule and see peace in his time. But the forces behind CUT won't go easily for the shadow has a long reach.

There are really two stories in this novel that cover 20 years in the post-change world. The first is the final battle with CUT. The second story is the growth and development of Orlaith his heir. The final battle is more of a clean up operation with a couple of frenzied battles. After destroying the prophet, the story switches to focus on Orlaith and her development over many years. The final pages bring the titular sacrifice and open the door for a new quest.

This is the tenth book in set in the universe first developed in Dies the Fire. Twenty-six years have passed since Nantucket went into the past and the modern world ended. Over the course of the series most of the main characters that survived the downfall have now died or retired. By the end of the novel, very few survivors remain. This is kind of bittersweet. You see their lives and mourn their passing. The typical warning that as a later novel in an established series it isn't the best entry point applies. That stated though, as a transition novel, it may be a new entry point for new readers as much of the prior action is noted.

S.M. Stirling develops characters that readers can relate to on a personal level. Then they die. Sometimes they die a heroic death, sometimes they just die. It is a harsh world and not everybody can survive. Prophecy protects characters for a time, but once they reach their goal they are at risk once again. The difference between Stirling and some authors is that the deaths seem right even when you aren't ready. That can't be said of all authors. Of course when you kill five billion people in the beginning, it shouldn't be a surprise that characters aren't safe. The King is dead. Long live the Queen.

There is potential for several novels that tell the further adventures of Orlaith. Additionally, there will be a trilogy of stories related to the children of Rudi and Mathilda. In addition to the main novels there are a few short stories related to this universe. Many of the stories focus on other parts of the world and how they have changed with the change to the laws of physics which leads to the loss of electricity. For more information check Stirling’s website.

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