The first book in a new trilogy by S.M. Stirling sees the small island of Nantucket and its immediate surrounding areas swept into the past sometime around the year 1250 BC by an unknown force or entity.
While this is “unknown force” doing something to a random group of humans is fairly standard fare in SciFi, the writing in this book and level of research and detail that has been done, definitely makes it STAND OUT from the crowd.
Fortunately for the islanders they have people on the island and the Coast Guard training vessel that was swept along with them that are able to adapt and survive in a time without any of the modern conveniences that they were previously accustomed to. Without access to the resources of the mainland, starvation itself is a real threat in the first year.
Fairly soon after the transition the islanders make a trip to the mainland to discover where they are and if they can find a clue to what has happened. Here the encounter a small village of Native Americans, who have not really advanced beyond the stone age and this visit has disastrous consequences for the Native Americans. With no natural immunities to the diseases that modern man has spent aeons building antibodies against, their population is decimated after encountering the common cold.
While this is the first time Stirling uses this “weapon” it will not be last in this series.
It’s spring on Nantucket and everything is perfectly normal, until a sudden storm blankets the entire island. When the weather clears, the island’s inhabitants find that they are no longer in the late 20th century, but have been transported instead to the Bronze Age. Now they must learn to survive with suspicious, warlike peoples they can barely understand and deal with impending disaster, in the shape of a would-be conqueror from their own time.
With their superior technology and techniques, the Islanders decide that the best way to feed themselves that first year is to trade for food. They travel to ancient Britain where the encounter the “Sun People” – an invading race of people that have been fighting the native Britain’s (the Earth People).
In dealing with the Sun People they are able to trade some common trinkets for grain which will feed them through that first winter. They also acquire a slave (Swindapa) who had been captured by the Sun People and Isketerol – a Tartessos merchant.
While still in Britain, William Walker (2nd in command of the Eagle – the Coast Guard vessel transported along with the islanders) discovers or determines that being “2nd” is not something that he wants to do.
During the trip back to Nantucket on the Eagle, Walker and Isketerol start to plot how the revolution will happen … this is the true beginning of the book and from this point onwards, you will NOT BE ABLE to put it down! Keep on reading below if you’d like to see how this first book ends (after the comments so you don’t see it by mistake!).
Please only read the below, if you have no intention of buying this book. I would highly recommend however that you buy it!!
Walker and Isketerol quickly establish a small group of rebels from the discontented islanders who take advantage of the trust of their fellow man. This small group, cause damage and steal all the guns from the island and set off back to the “old world” with the intent of establishing an empire there.
However Walker has not only betrayed his fellow travellers in time, he has also betrayed the other rebels and uses them as a diversion to ensure that he is not followed by the rest of the Coast Guard crew and the Eagle.
Forced to make a diversion to the Gulf of Mexico to rescue the Chief’s wife, the Coast Guard crew encounter the Olmec People – practicers of human sacrifice and progenitors to the Inca and Mayans. Fighting a small battle to save the Chief’s wife, they are only able to finally pursue Walker the following season.
Walker in the meantime has not been idle and has taken that time to consolidate his base in ancient Britain and has been gradually destroying the Earth People and helping further spread the Sun People. Finally able to arrive in Britain, the Islanders make an alliance with the remaining Earth People and also some discontented tribes of Sun People.
A climatic battle ensues with both sides meeting at the Battle of the Downs – Stonehenge and although Nantucket and its allies are victorious, Walker manages to escape with his followers leading to our next story!