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Ice, Iron And Gold by S.M. Stirling
Cover Artist: Vincent Chong
Review by Bill Lawhorn
Night Shade Books Hardcover  ISBN/ITEM#: 9781597801157
Date: 01 October 2007 List Price $26.95 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /

A Roman legion in space, American soldiers trapped in Central America, and alternate visions of the future and past. This is the first story collection by S.M. Stirling. It features a story from his popular Island in the Sea of Time universe. It also includes a new story from the Dies the Fire world. This thirteen story collection shows the broad range that Stirling writes.

It is difficult and not always useful to recap every story in a collection. So a few highlights for Stirling fans follows:

    "Three Walls-32nd Campaign" recounts what happens to one of the legions lost by Crassus. Sold as a group to be mercenaries, the Romans find themselves fighting throughout the universe. Roman discipline and fury are as deadly at the ends of the universe, maybe more so, since their enemies have never fought such a disciplined group. Of course their masters should remember that Romans are not as simple as they seem.

    "Riding Shotgun to Armageddon" is the Island in the Sea of Time story. Pharaoh's army including its' new rifle and canon company are moving to stop the Hittite army's passage. This adds to the story of one of the Nantucketeers who went to Egypt.

    "Something for Yew" is the Dies the Fire related story. Set over 50 years after the change; it tells of a murder investigation in Britain. An investigator from New Scotland Yard is called down to Portsmouth to investigate an odd death.

    One of the most interesting stories is "The Charge of Lee's Brigade". In a world where the America's never split from Britain, Robert E. Lee is in the Crimea preparing to show what the Virginian Calvary can do. This story mixes historic characters and events in a fun and interesting way.

    "Lost Legion" is the first of a pair of stories that is set in Central America as the United States is collapsing. A military force is far from home and short on resources, so it gets what every unit in short supply needs, a monster tank.

I greatly enjoyed the stories in this collection. There are a variety of story types. A little alternate history, some post apocalyptic futures, an interesting fantasy, and some plain old military SF. Every story is worth reading. The inclusion of a brief introduction would have helped the readability. There seems to be some conflict when it comes to the addition of introductions to stories. Some editors do not like to include them. A brief introduction would have allowed me to jump into a few of the stories much quicker. The linked stories and the Dies the Fire and the Island in the Sea of Time stories took a while to place. By knowing the setting a large amount of information about setting and characters would have clicked and improved the early enjoyment of the stories.

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