The Golden Princess (Change Series)
by S.M. Stirling
Cover Artist: Larry Rostant
Review by Bill Lawhorn
Roc Hardcover ISBN/ITEM#: 9780451417336
Date: 02 September 2014 List Price $27.95 Amazon US / Amazon UK
Órlaith is Rudi and Mattie's oldest child, thus the heir to Montival. She also blames herself for her father's death. She must honor him in death and follow the rites while preparing to fight their enemies. The action is complicated by her age. Although an adult in many respects, she has not reached the age of majority where she can rule in her own right. She is not an only child, but that actually makes some things better as her beliefs would not be accepted in a ruler of the Protectorate.
Reiko, the princess of Japan, also lost her father in the same action that saw Rudi fall. They came to the shores of what had been California on a quest. One that is similar to the one that Rudi undertook a generation before. They brought on their heels a distant enemy that is the same that was defeated years ago in the war with the CUT. Reiko and her retainers need help, but their traditions and language make it difficult.
Órlaith and Reiko will team up and plan to quest together. In order to do that, they need to gather their own group of questers. But this quest will be larger than the one that came before. The enemy is near and gathering its strength and allies as they too will search for the magic sword.
This is the first book in a new series set in the world of the Change. The heroes of this new epoch are further removed from the change that created their world. Very few survivors of that time remain as it has been nearly 50 years. Many of the heroes of the prior series no longer remain, or are only mentioned in passing.
The big change in this series is that more of the world is coming into play. Prior to this series, most of the action took place in North America. In this novel, readers will get information from Japan and for one brief interlude, Australia. Prior to this, other parts of the world were only explored in short stories. This is a reflection of the increasing population and the stabilization and development of older technology that make travel easier than it has been for decades.
There are definite hints to potential future alliances and dalliances. The children of the change live in a manner quite differently from the way we live in our world. They are much less restricted in their choices and actions. This is one of the aspects of this world I enjoy, the interplay between old traditions and new ways that have developed. Sometimes old ways return, other times new ways come to the fore, and then there are the blending of the two.
To be honest, I wasn't sure if I was ready for another novel of the change. The characters that I loved have all gone away. The pace seemed to be dragging a lot as well. This is still a concern here. The Golden Princess felt a lot like The Fellowship of the Ring, with the whole novel being a set up for the rest of the series action. I was surprised how much I enjoyed this novel. Maybe it was the shift to a female perspective for the most part or the linkage to The Lord of the Rings. It worked.
As the later novel in an established world, this isn't the easiest starting point, but the action of the prior novels is shared enough to keep the reader abreast of what has come before.