Summer Reading Recommendation: Dies the Fire by S.M. Stirling

By Kaileigh Deacon

Working in a bookstore opened me up to a variety of writing genres including science fiction and fantasy. This however, was a recommendation from my Dad and I’m glad he told me about it.

Mike Havel and his family are flying at their country home when he looses all power in his plane. Forced to land the plane in the Idaho wilderness, he then has to lead the family to safety. Quickly he finds that the problems may not have been confined to his plane. Meanwhile, Juniper Mackenzie is performing in a small Oregon pub when the lights go out. Cars have stopped and planes are falling out of the sky, sending the town into panic and blazing fire. Juniper, with her daughter and a continually growing group of friends, head to the country where Juniper has a cabin to try to survive this event. Some are content with mere survival and creating comfortable lives while other seek power. The event has been labeled the Change. 

This book is a wonderful blend of science fiction and fantasy. This blend and the apocalyptic nature of the book create a very different story. While other books start in a post apocalyptic world this one takes you through the actual event that caused the change. The idea behind this novel where everything suddenly stops working and all the conveniences we have grown accustomed to are gone. This novel takes people from a modern world and throws them essentially back in time to the Dark Ages. 

One of the things I enjoyed about this book was the way it examined how various people reacted to the change not just one person or group of people. You get to see how individuals in the same situation but with very different personalities and views on the world react to the same event. This story telling style allows the reader to get to know many characters and find someone in there with whom  they can identify.

One of the things I found difficult was the way in which time passed. In the beginning of the books while the change was happening and the characters were getting accustomed to the new world time seemed uniform and easy to follow. As the book went on however the passage of time became a little harder to distinguish. 

The writing is well done and creates the world beautifully. This story takes the places we know in a modern context and throws us and the characters into what they might have been like if people had populated the United States during the Dark Ages. This is a world changed, a world where nothing is the same, and people have two choices: adapt and survive or die. 


I would give this book four and a half out of five stars. When I initially picked the book up I was pulled away but the second time when I stuck with it, it paid off and I got a thoroughly unique and entertaining story. “Dies the Fire” is the first book of the Change and is definitely worth a read.