By: S.M. Sterling
This is book 4 in the Emberverse series. The first three are the original trilogy that begins with Dies the Fire. Sunrise Lands picks up many years later, and centers itself on the children of the change, mainly Rudi, son of Mike “Lord Bear” Havel and Juniper “Herself herself” Mackenzie. I wasn’t truly sure what to expect when I picked this book up. I loved the original trilogy of books. (I’m coming to realize that I love just about any apocalypse/end of world as we know it story) But, this story picked up well after the change, so I wasn’t sure if it would still hold my interest without that urgency factor. Within pages, I was relieve of that worry. It was much like coming home to your old friends and family. Many of them have aged a bit, but are still the same old folks you know and love. Comforting.
One small nitpick that I had with the original trilogy was that Sterling couldn’t help but throw a bit of the fantastical into the story. I suppose it was somewhat necessary to explain the change itself, but it always seemed a bit extraneous. Unfortunately, it’s become much more pronounced in this new series. One interesting thing that happens as a result of that, however, is that we get a pretty interesting look at how a society might evolve over 20 years after a significant change in the way of life. So much so, that by the end of the novel, the fantastical elements weren’t nearly as pronounced to me. Still there, yes, but they don’t stick out like sore thumbs like they did near the beginning. You grow to accept them. That’s a bonus point for Sterling’s world building, I think.
The writing, like the original series is conversational. It isn’t text book difficulty, which, to me, makes it easy to read and understand. There’s a few terms and names that are a bit higher on the difficulty scale, but not so bad as to cause anything more than a slight bump in the reading pace. The extent of Sterling’s research into many of the battle weapons and the way of life without electricity shows in the amount of detail that he melds into the world and the story. I think you could pick up this book without having read the previous three books and still end up with a satisfying read. I would suggest your read the other three first however.