Sunday, March 24, 2013

LLF Book Club: Dies The Fire Wrap Up

So today we wrap up the first ever Live Like Fiction Book Club Pick. I chose Dies The Fire, the first in a series of books about the modern world we all live in now post-change. The Change, as it is referred to in this book is a global event, which came around 6PM on day in the late nineties, and a burst of light seared painfully in every single living beings brain and after it quickly passes the world was different. All electricity, firearms, and engines past the most basic of steam engines have stopped working. The laws of science and physics were bent to send modern people back into Bronze Age living conditions. What survives are the hardiest, smartest, or meanest factions of society living in places lucky enough to be away from large urban coastal areas. The book series is called Emberverse, since it is all about the first sparks of a new culture and people post apocalypse.

S.M. Stirling's Dies The Fire was a blast for me. It is a fantasy book, but there isn't anything fantastical about it. Not really. No one is flying on dragons or fighting vampires. The only fantasy is the flash of light that changes the world, all that follows is regular people forced to live extraordinary lives. I think that was the appeal for me.

I know this book has many flaws. Some say the religious aspect of Christianity, LDS, Wicca, and other faiths is too much. Others say it is ridiculously feminists to the point of unrealistic. Others think it takes too much from movies, or Tolkien. Others say the plot is just too predictable and so are the characters. I understand these criticisms, agree with some, but I ignore them. I adore this book and not for any reasons of literary critique. I am in it for the joyride, the adventure, the story! As a lover of all things Celtic, Pagan, Medieval, Archery, Equine, and Tolkien this was like a mash up of fantastical things being thrown into the everyday lives of very, very normal people (well, most of them). What transpires is a year of survival, battle, faith, friendship and a world going from one of history and statistics to one of legends and myths. It is pure escapism for me.

Okay, let's kick this off and start talking about it! What did you think?

P.S. Tonight at 8PM EST I will host a public Google Hangout to talk about Dies The Fire, look for me there. To find me just go to this link and click on the Dies The Fire option of on-air public events. I wish I could link to a live feed here, but I'm not sure how to do that yet. If this is a flop and it's just me on there and no one else joins for ten minutes then I'll log out and chalk it up as a loss. I'll figure it out for the next book!


Blogger time4trees.mb said...

I enjoyed the book a lot. It is not a book I would have normally chosen, but am now looking forward to reading the series. Although the circumstances are fantasy, the idea of knowing how to survive is something I'm working on all the time. I personally like the idea of not being so tied to technology for every aspect of living. As for the book, I enjoyed both strategies for survival, but most identified with the MacKenzie group...more inclined to farm and have many of the same beliefs. I would love to join you on the Google thing, but 8 pm eastern time is 5 pm pacific, time for cooking dinner for the family. I am looking forward to reading the comments from others, as well as the next book selection.

March 24, 2013 at 6:05 PM  
Blogger Kate said...

I'm not sure if I can go to Google tonight, will of I can.
I loved this book. Agreed that there were imperfections but I chose to turn off critic and suspend my disbelief a bit and enjoy. It's made me think a lot and started many conversations among my friends and family. I love imagining how things can be done by hand! I love the idea of living off the earth and depending on each other. I hate the idea of thousands of people dying though and had to deal with my old childhood fear of just that (saw Omega Man of all things when I was 12 and hated that people became so mean). I enjoyed the story and the new born leadership and the fact that good people did survive and thrive. I also found out that my kids are 100% certain that they would survive by their skill and wits, a nice thing to imagine...
Thanks for the book suggestion, Jenna. Let's do this again.

March 24, 2013 at 6:16 PM  
Blogger Dee Anne said...

Can't make it to Google tonight, but I'm looking forward to the next one!

March 24, 2013 at 7:06 PM  
Blogger Cathy said...

This is a book that if I had seen it in the library or bookstore would have passed it by. I am glad I read it. I agree with you...I don't look too deeply into the reality of it. I was reading it for fun, for escape. If I wanted seriousness and reality I would have read Lincoln's Biography. I have started reading the second one in the series - I like how he has gone to another country to get their take on the Change. So, what's the next book??

March 24, 2013 at 7:07 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

I'm planning on being there tonight. I'll do my best anyway.

I enjoyed the book. I know if something like The Change ever really happened I'd be in deep trouble. Florida is not a healthy environment for human beings. Well, indigenous peoples, maybe, but it is too hot, too humid, too fetid. Even though we are both healthy, raise our own chickens and veg, and there's even a pond behind our home, we couldn't stay here. We would have to walk too far.
Back to the book... I appreciate how each of the groups found a way to survive and use their strengths to make livings (a warrior tribe, a farming community, etc.). It will be interesting to read the next book. I can tell battles with Portland are coming.

March 24, 2013 at 7:27 PM  
Blogger Cathy said...

Cannot seem to get to that page. Bummer.

March 24, 2013 at 8:05 PM  
Blogger Deb Naydan said...

This has been a great book to start with for your book club, Jenna. I have a little over 100 pages left to go, so I'm still waiting to see what's going to happen at the end. I think this would make a great movie or perhaps a TV series. It has gotten me to think about survival and the type of skills needed to make it in a situation like that. I could have done without some of the religious stereo types (the good witch vs. the bad tempered bible man, etc.), but overlook it as just one facet of the story. Even though it is a fantasy, it is appalling as to how horrible people can be to each other when they are desperate, hungry and afraid. As I'm inclined to be a loner, I do see how the sense of community has helped these people and by working together they are able to make lives for themselves. It's sad to think that so much time and energy had to be given to military training and defense, not too far from the real world though. Looking forward to more book club reading and comments. Thanks Jenna.

March 24, 2013 at 8:07 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

I went looking for the Hang Out but I can't find it. Oh, well. Sorry.

March 24, 2013 at 8:07 PM  
Blogger Gail said...

It's now 8:20 EST and after 20 minutes of trying to find you I give up! You should embed the hangout in a blog post and use You Tube to archive it.

Anyway, I loved the book! Actually, I've read the first three twice and the next three once. Such a great "what if" Makes me wonder if I have enough skills to be accepted into a community?!

March 24, 2013 at 8:23 PM  
Blogger Gail said...

It's now 8:20 EST and after 20 minutes of trying to find you I give up! You should embed the hangout in a blog post and use You Tube to archive it.

Anyway, I loved the book! Actually, I've read the first three twice and the next three once. Such a great "what if" Makes me wonder if I have enough skills to be accepted into a community?!

March 24, 2013 at 8:23 PM  
Blogger Karen said...

Didn't get to the link soon enough. I did enjoy the book, though. As you did, I suspended disbelief on some points, but the whole idea of what could and probably would happen in a similar circumstance, had me reading well into the night for several days. The book made me think I've got to step up my skills! I can garden with the best of them, and care for all kinds of animals, but my defensive skills are sorely lacking!

March 24, 2013 at 8:28 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

I popped into the Hangout for a quick second but I was having some technical problems so I'll have to try again next time.

As far as the book goes, I really enjoyed it. It is a great beginning to a great series.

I'm looking forward to seeing what you have in mind for the next book!

March 24, 2013 at 8:57 PM  
Blogger TransFarmer said...

I forgot it was est, and just tried to find you on cst, lol.

I enjoy the series a lot. I'm already on the 4th book. I find myself drawn to both sets of central characters, Juniper and Havel. Both factions have qualities and strengths I can identify with.

Interestingly, I don't find the book to be on a feminist slant as I guess some have. I look at it as people following the person that has the most knowledge and the ability to handle the knowledge respectfully.

I have thoroughly enjoyed the books, and sometimes I find myself asking why the author made some decisions he did. For example, I found Juniper to be a little absent in putting things together, as well as Havel. Maybe it's more of a reflection of me, because I would be more questioning of things and motives in that situation.

Good pick Jenna. What's next?

March 24, 2013 at 9:19 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I didn't like this book too much. I thought the Tolkien and equine stuff would carry me through the predictable stuff, but about half-way through I basically quit, skimmed the rest to find out if anything exciting happened and read the last few pages. I hardly ever ever skip to the end in a book, but if I heard one more "blessed be" I was going to gag. I was interested in the actual survival methods, but the rest of it got in the way. Robinson Crusoe and Castaway still have the top spot for surviving - ha!

I can see where many would like this, particularly just wasn't for me. I'm a Northern European by heritage and interest, an equestrian, and a farmer, but still my interest was not capitvated. I will certainly try the next book that Jenna recommends though!....back to my current read: Ivanhoe.

March 24, 2013 at 9:53 PM  
Blogger Indio said...

I usually read non fiction because there is just so much I need to learn and know about that I don't often have time for fiction. However, I found myself entranced by the story.
I was captivated by the book, but I glossed over much of the Wiccan stuff. I hate the mind numbing monotony of exercising so I saved the book for whenever I got on the elliptical. I haven't worked out this much in weeks because the time flew by when I was reading. It kept me focused on the story instead of the fact that I had only gone 2 miles on the stepper. It's inspired me to improve my archery skills and possible learn some fencing skills (the sword kind). Now I'm looking forward to the next book.

March 24, 2013 at 10:40 PM  
Blogger Tams said...

I'm so glad you picked this one. It would not have been something I would have picked out. It has helped me to question more of my prepardness is something more long term were to happen..and after seeing the lack og gov't help in New Orleans and now Sandy...I have realized that we will need to have each others back and community.

I have gone on to read the continuing series...thank you for suggesting this book.

March 25, 2013 at 4:21 AM  
Blogger Bovey Belle said...

Totally out of the sort of book I would normally read (Phillipa Gregory and historical fiction, English classics etc) but good escapism. For me, he dwelt too heavily on the fighting but then that is probably how reality would have been, and his was a masculine take on it I guess!

I live in a very small rural community here - everyone knows everyone elses' business and we look out for one another. In the event of something like this happening, community would be ESSENTIAL for survival along with self-reliance which my husband and I are fortunate to possess. But being "olds" now, I guess we might well be amongst the first to go if the book is anything to go by . . .

March 25, 2013 at 4:25 AM  
Blogger Tams said...

I'm so glad you picked this one. It would not have been something I would have picked out. It has helped me to question more of my prepardness is something more long term were to happen..and after seeing the lack og gov't help in New Orleans and now Sandy...I have realized that we will need to have each others back and community.

I have gone on to read the continuing series...thank you for suggesting this book.

March 25, 2013 at 4:26 AM  
Blogger seagrrlz said...

I first read "Dies the Fire" ages ago, when you first mentioned it on the site. I've read all the books in the series except the last 2 in the Nantucket series.I Plan on reading them as well.

I really liked the book. When I first read it, I found some parts unbelieveable. How supplies just were there, the horses @ the museum etc.

As I read further into the book and the series, I realised that it was the lucky few that this happened to. Most people died and for the few that did survive,most were just barely surviving. There's always someone who is going to be lucky, resourceful or ruthless enough to come out on top.

As too the heavy wicca/celtic influences in the book, even the Mackenzie(herself,herself)comments on how surprising it is that her clan became an actual clan so quickly and strongly. I guess people need something to cling to in the chaos to avoid being swept away. And, to quote the song by Spirit of the West-there's none more Scots than the Scots abroad :)

Can't wait to see what the your next suggestion will be!

March 25, 2013 at 8:48 AM  
Blogger Normal Mom said...

Thanks Jenna for picking this book! I was so bummed to have unexpected guests last night - not that I had guests, just was looking forward to participating!!

I too would not have picked up this book unless I knew about it. having spent quite a bit of time in the Salem/Portland/Corvallis area (and with family that still lives there) I found the setting of Juniper good fun! I'm well versed in Wicca, Celtic and Equine but did find the Blessed Be's got a bit much to the point of distracting. I agree you just have to "let-go" with this book and run with it. It was apparent this was written from a mans point of view quite a bit. Heavy on battle etc. It was enough to start discussions at the dinner table with my family on the "what if" factors. Especially if such an event happened. My teenagers were remarkably resourcful in their ideas, but realized living in the tech age there are serious skills that would need to be acquired. they are huge fans of the TV show that started last fall, Revolution, (which has the same starting premiss about the power going out worldwide) and it has renewed their interest in archery, fencing and organic gardening. All of which they have done in the past and have equipment for but have not kept up on. For me "Dies the Fire" made me go and break out my Foxfire Booka series and start studying!!!

I've started on the 2nd book in the series, Protectors War, and am looking forward to chugging through it.

Thanks again for the suggestion and starting the book club. Fun to expand horizons a bit. So what's next???

Have a great week -
Emily Ray ska "Normal" Mom

March 25, 2013 at 9:45 AM  
Blogger Nic said...

I enjoyed the book as well, I am currently reading the third in the series. They are slowing down for me a bit now, I've like the first the best. I do like the idea of self sufficiency and that those with the knowledge of the "old" crafts and way of life became so important and powerful.

March 25, 2013 at 10:15 AM  
Blogger KristenAnn said...

Dang, I missed the Google thing! My home internet is limited to iPad, so I only check my Google Reader on weekdays. Loved this book, though. I finished it a few weeks ago, and it had such a big impact on me. Not my kind of book at all, but it was an enjoyable thinker, and sure made me look harder at how prepared I am for a black swan event... can't wait to read the next book selection!

March 25, 2013 at 11:00 AM  
Blogger Sarah said...

Honestly, as an active SCAdian, I was a little uncomfortable at our portrayal. An amusing read, but I'm back to reading, "The Year 1000", by Robert Lacey and Danny Danzigerwhich. You might enjoy it.

March 25, 2013 at 12:21 PM  
Blogger Denise said...

I finally did get the book, read it and loved it! I thought it was a great story and I've read many like stories before. I even bought the next one in the series.

Jenna-here's another book you might want to check out - Eyes of Garnet by Mary Duncan set in the 1700's in Scotland. It's the first in a series of three.

March 25, 2013 at 1:19 PM  
Blogger Jamie said...

This was a book I never would have picked to read on my own, so Thank You! for introducing me to something outside my norm. I've always toyed with the idea of prepping, not to the extent that some preppers go to, but thinking I'd like to be prepared in an emergency. This book really makes to think about how much you would lose if something happened to the electricity and gas powered engines. There is a small pony cart for sale down the road... I've been wondering how hard it would be to train an old mare and/or a young off the track TB to pull it. Might be an adventure. Can't wait to read the next book!

March 25, 2013 at 4:29 PM  
Blogger S.M. Stirling said...

Nice to see people reading the book and actually thinking about it!

You can't please everyone, and I'm cool with some not liking it.

That doesn't reflect badly on them (or me); tastes just differ.

If anyone has questions, they can get to me at

March 25, 2013 at 9:51 PM  
Blogger Cathi said...

I really liked this book, the series is a favourite but I've read the first one more than once now. I liked the back and forth between Mike and Juniper representing 2 different methods of dealing with the Change.
The concept of the book and the Change really made me look at my life and life skills when I first read it. The amount of death, destruction and violence really saddened me because I know it is all possible but the perserverance of humanity and the examples shown of how we can come back really made me feel hopeful for mankind.
Did anyone else catch Sam's reference to the Modesty Blaise books? One of my favorite series from waaaaaaaay back.

March 26, 2013 at 2:15 PM  
Blogger Jennifer Montero said...

I enjoy your writing so by rights I might enjoy what you like to read as well. OK, downloaded on my ipod. I'm a bit late for the book club, but will enjoy listening while I check my flock of sheep, dress my horse's foot abscess, and wait in a high seat for a deer supper! Thanks so much for the suggestion.

March 26, 2013 at 2:24 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sorry to arrive late to the book club! Just finished the book and really enjoyed it- as others have mentioned, it's not one a genre I would have necessarily picked up on my own but really got swept up in the story and would be interested to see what the future holds for the characters! Curious if anyone has thoughts on Juniper's baby? I assume Havel knew it was his (since he probably did the math and was there after the baby was born) but it was never really discussed between them. And I didn't really understand the significance of the ceremony at the end but since this is part of a series, I presume it leads to the next chapter. Thanks for a great read! :)

March 26, 2013 at 5:21 PM  
Blogger Stacie said...

I'm sooo late, but I just finished the book. I was trying an audiobook for the first time, and although it gave the story a different flavor, it took me way longer than it would if if I'd just read it.

I enjoyed the story, and it got me thinking--although I think of myself as a little more handy than average, really the only skills I have that don't involve any of the stuff that got turned off in this story are spinning and knitting, and organic gardening. Left to my own devices, I surely would have died! I guess I'll have to at least up my bartering skills if I ever wanted to get by in this setting.

March 29, 2013 at 12:47 PM  
Blogger Kevin and Beth said...

I just finished the book so I came back to read the comments, I waited until I was done, didnt want to spoil the ending.

I was so excited to see that the author S. M. Stirling mmented!!! Wow, pretty cool.

I'm off to get the next book, can't wait to read it and I was happy with everything about the book! Thanks Jenna.

April 3, 2013 at 11:15 AM  

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