The Tears of the Sun: A Novel of the Change
by S.M. Stirling
Cover Artist: Larry Rostant
Review by Bill Lawhorn
Roc Hardcover ISBN/ITEM#: 9780451464156
Date: 06 September 2011 List Price $26.95 Amazon US / Amazon UK
The quest is over and the war has begun. Making it to Nantucket and back was just the beginning. Now the High Kingdom of Montival truly begins its war with C.U.T. and their allies the United States of Boise. The mysterious happenings that allowed the taking of some important castles have been stopped, but the Prophet is turning his full attention West and the Portland Protection Association.
There are two major plotlines in this novel. One is the gathering of Montivalís troops and the second is the catch-up related to the treason of Baroness Liu. The betrayal of Baroness Liu occurred while Rudi and friends were marching east to Nantucket. The betrayal is told through a series of flashbacks.
The torch is slowly passing from the survivors of the Change to the next generation born shortly before or after the Change. There are a few occasions of whimsy, where people reflect on those that have passed. They were done reasonably well, and were a realistic reaction to the major death that is noted early on.
This is the eleventh Book of the Change, and the fifth that focuses on Rudi Mackenzie and friends. Being late in the series, it is not the place to start for new readers. Starting with Dies the Fire would be the best place for these characters even though it is a couple decades later. The basic rules of the universe that impact how everyone acts are set up in the first book set in 1998. The Islands in the Sea of Time trilogy adds a little back story and is the trigger for the change, but the stories arenít necessary to appreciate the new world.
I liked the gathering of troops and the opening moves of the war with Boise and C.U.T., but I was less thrilled with the numerous flashback scenes. I would have preferred them to occur in the proper timeline as the quest was progressing. This would have created more mystery as it related to the allegiance of Odard and the depth of betrayal in the Liu clan. With two books remaining in the series, I was pretty sure that this one would be a set-up novel, and it was.
With the entire back story filled in, the next books will be action packed. The payoff that has kept fans reading. Lord of Mountains and The Given Sacrifice (due out in 2012 and 2013) are the final two books in the series. Will Rudi have to die? Youíll have to read and find out, just like the rest of us.