Stone Spring: The Northland Trilogy
by Stephen Baxter
Cover Artist: Larry Rostant
Review by Bill Lawhorn
Roc Hardcover ISBN/ITEM#: 9780451464187
Date: 01 November 2011 List Price $25.95 Amazon US / Amazon UK
The glaciers are receding and slowly the oceans rise. Northland, the land between modern day England and France, is a land that faces rising seas. A few generations ago, the richest deposits of obsidian were lost to the rising seas, now more land is being lost to the ever encroaching water. The future of this soon to be submerged land lies in the knowledge and skills of a pair of people from far away.
Ana is a young girl in village of Etxular in Northland as the story begins. The arrival of a massive series of tidal waves changes her life forever and starts the people of Northland on a quest to hold back the seas. She will guide her people to reclaim that which were lost. Her single-minded quest will cost her and her family and friends.
Shade and Gall of the Pretani come to Northland to maintain the rituals that have been a part of the two people for generations. Their attitude creates tension in Ana’s village, especially since her father Kirike is missing. But they have come to find brides. The actions of one of the brothers, sows the seeds for animosity and strife.
Novu comes from Jericho. His father is a trader, and he has lived a soft life. When his father decides that he must go, he is sold into slavery to a travelling trader. He learns trade as he travels towards Northland. When he arrives his skills as a mason and engineer will be put to use by Ana.
Stone Spring is the start of the new Northland Trilogy alternate history series by Stephen Baxter. Since the events are deep within the realm of prehistory, the tale unfolds more as a secret history or prehistorical fiction. The engineering feats have set the ripple in motion. As the future plays out, the changes will have a major effect.
As the start of a new series it is a good entrance point. The Stone Age culture should be familiar to fans of historical fiction. Fans of Baxter and Jean Auel will find a lot to enjoy here.
The Author's Note at the end was excellent. Baxter lays out what is known about the area, and how what he has written fits the archeological record. This is the detail that readers expect from Baxter. Those that read the Time Tapestry series will find a lot to enjoy in this series.
The second book of the series, Bronze Summer, was released in the UK in September 2011. Based on this, the third book title must be Iron Autumn/Fall. Based on this first entrant, I look forward to the rest of the series. There is also some short fiction related to this series on Baxter’s website, visit http://www.stephen-baxter.com/stories.html#northland.