Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Magic Makes Things Less Magical: The High King of Montival

The High King of MontivalWhat happens to people and civilizations if we lose all our technology? S.M. Stirling likes that question, and has several series of books based around answering it. In the longest series, The Change, stuff just stops working and no one knows why, and his characters spend six books setting up new ways of living. At first things are very hard, with mass starvation and death, but as the books go on people learn new ways of coping and after twenty five years many people can't even remember what it was like "before."

Religion becomes much more important to people, who draw together and build myths and structures to bond their societies. So people pray to Odin and the Earth Mother and Raven and the Virgin Mary. Earlier books left open whether or not the prayers were answered, but in this book we know that Rudi, son of major characters of the first books, is super-magical. He's got the nifty magic sword to beat all swords, and everyone who glimpses it recognizes the power. So he can tell who is lying, and hack open just about anything, and seal off minds from the evil workings of the Evil Powers, and gosh, probably slice bread.

When his magic sword is off-stage, there are still interesting bits with people fighting and rushing about and doing stuff on their own, but things are much duller now that it isn't ingenuity and courage vs the world. I'll probably keep reading these, but not in any hurry when they come out, because a lot of the magic is gone now that the magic is there.  C-

Hey, it works for the What's In a Name Challenge -- "high" is a size!  OK, I don't regret the time spent reading this one.

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