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Iron Winter: The Northland Trilogy (Northland series) by Stephen Baxter
Review by Bill Lawhorn
Roc Hardcover  ISBN/ITEM#: 9780451240125
Date: 05 November 2013 List Price $26.95 Amazon US / Amazon UK

Links: Author's Website / Show Official Info /

Thousands of years have passed since Ana first stopped the seas. Additional thousands have passed since the wars that reshaped the power around Northland. Now the people of the wall face a challenge greater than the rising tides, returning ice. The glaciers are growing once more and growing seasons are getting shorter. The life that the people enjoyed is no longer possible. Some recognize this sooner than others. One family of Annids choose several paths. But turmoil brings death and suffering.

It isn't just Northland that faces challenges. Whenever resources become short, people go on the move in search of new supplies or a better home. Throughout history the migration of people has led to turmoil and the rise and fall of empires. The first signs are the arrival of the Rus near Troy. The Hatti recognize that they can stay and fight or move themselves. They eye Egypt, but to take Egypt, they need to stop Carthage.

Pyxeas begins a great journey to the East and Cathay. He brings Avatak, a young man from Coldland. Together they will see more of the world than most can even imagine in search of an answer to the returning ice.

Although not followed in detail, there are several brief vignettes set in the New World. They are also suffering as the climate changes and the old weather patterns are rewritten. In the end they will see the appearance of a new challenge that was the solution to an Old World problem.

This is the final book in the Northland trilogy. Although it is the third book in a series, the large amount of time that passes between each novel means that new readers can enter the series without missing too much. Most of the major events from the earlier two works are briefly mentioned. I still recommend starting at the beginning with Stone Spring.

Set during what was a cooling period in our world, the changes to the world and climate create a situation where a new Ice Age can start. The climate of the world is always on the edge, a little change can lead to a massive shift, which can lead to major die offs. The change here is not as quick as the ones portrayed in some other series such as the Science in the Capital series by Kim Stanley Robinson. The people have a few years to adjust rather than an immediate change. Still the changes cause a massive shift in what will grow and where. The areas that once supported massive populations, no longer have growing seasons long enough to allow the crops to mature. This type of change could be one that we face as the oceans heat and the ice caps melt shifting the oceanic currents.

Stephen Baxter is a good writer. He has the knack for writing multi-generational alternate history series. His Times Tapestry series imagined a world that was affected by information from the future. Although following a different premise, the Northland Trilogy is another winner. I wish this had been a four book series that explored each season, but since there was also a play on the different ages of tools, I understand sticking to that comparison.

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