Book Review: Against the Tide of Years – by S. M. Stirling

The second book of the Change trilogy by Stirling, following Island in the Sea of Time.


Stirling must have done deep research to write this trilogy. I learned a lot about the Bronze Age, how people lived then, thought, loved, feared, raised their families and how they died.

Stirling develops colorful and multi-dimensional characters that I could see and emphasize and identify with.

The underlying premise of a 20th century society (a small town’s worth) being thrown into 1250 B.C. and having to cope is a fascinating “what if” question and the development of the story, from the first through the second book, kept me turning pages without rest.


There was not enough new material here compared to the first book. The battle scenes went on too long andwere too explicit. After a while they simply got boring. Stirling could have made the first book 100 pages longer and he would not have needed the second book.

To build on that thought: Each book in a trilogy must stand on its own. Clearly the author made an effort to give enough background to make this possible, I don’t think anyone that did not read the first book could have made too much sense of the second.  I would suspect that any reader that did not read the first book would be lost and would abandon this within the first 100 pages.


There was somewhat of a start of the second book, but there was no end. Somehow the story just fizzled out in the last 50 pages. There was the beginning of a climactic war between the rebel Walker and the Republic, along with the various middle eastern alliances the Republic had forged, but the war didn’t finish – or did I miss something. Ok, I know there is a third book, and I presume it’ll pick up after the second, and the whole thing will eventually get resolved. But then, why three books? Why didn’t Stirling just write one massive epic a la Pillars of  the Earth and be done with it?

This is not a trilogy. This is three books strung together.

Going Forward:

I have already bought the third book, so I am pretending that the second isn’t really done, and I am just going on. Since the books were written starting in 1998, with intervals of a year or so between them, the original readers must have been frustrated, having to wait a year to know what happens next. I can just go right on.

If I had not made the investment of  time of reading the second book, I would probably stop and not bother with 2 and 3 now.  But at this point, I want to know how it all gets wrapped up. If Stirling wraps this up, I’ll probably read other Stirling books in the future. If he does not wrap it up and leaves me hanging, I’ll probably be done.

But now – on to the third book.

Rating: *

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