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Conquistador Mass Market Paperback – March 2, 2004

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Conquistador + The Peshawar Lancers + Island in the Sea of Time
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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 608 pages
  • Publisher: Roc (March 2, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0451459334
  • ISBN-13: 978-0451459336
  • Product Dimensions: 4.3 x 1.3 x 6.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (113 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #472,379 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

One adjustment to his radio sends John Rolfe VI, a descendant of the Virginia colonist, from 1946 into a California New World never touched by white men in Stirling's (The Peshawar Lancers) mesmerizing new novel. Having discovered the Oakland Gate that allows one to switch secretly between worlds, Rolfe and a passel of army buddies found New Virginia, a Southern Agrarian "pirate kingdom," and proceed to build wealth and power on both sides. Stirling cleverly switches between vignettes of New Virginian history since 1946 and the "present" of 2009, when a neo-Mafioso is plotting to take over Rolfe's "theme park of perverted romanticism run amok." In this luscious alternative universe, sidekicks quote the Lone Ranger and Right inevitably triumphs with panache. What more could adventure-loving readers ask for?
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

Stirling's endlessly and sometimes perversely fertile imagination now realizes a world in which Alexander the Great lived to old age. Moreover, the East doesn't discover the West until 1946, when John Rolfe finds a gate from his time line to another and sets about discreetly, profitably colonizing the alternate Earth he discovers on the gate's other side. In 2009, Rolfe's granddaughter, investigating a threat to her family's benign feudal despotism, encounters a California fish and game officer tracking down the source of certain mysterious birds and beasts. He becomes her lover, ally, confidant, and spouse, and with odd, assorted allies from both time lines, they defeat a plot to overthrow the Rolfes and viciously conquer the new New World. This is even more of a romp than Stirling's Peshawar Lancers (2002), but while its action scenes are state-of-the-art and its femmes wonderfully formidables, it is the sort of romp that has four appendixes of historical backgrounding, not to mention a blatant opening for a sequel. Roland Green
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Customer Reviews

Plot development is excellent and the characters are well developed.
S. R. Horrocks
Definitely a "don't miss this!" for fans of Stirling, alternate history buffs, or those who enjoy a fun read.
K. Sozaeva
Maybe a little less action towards the end would have made it a better book.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

46 of 48 people found the following review helpful By W Boudville HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on February 8, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Isaac Asimov once said that he was able to generate numerous Robot stories, simply by taking his Three Laws of Robotics and considering the possible variants if he emphasised one over another, or if he made two come into conflict. In a like way, Steve Stirling is doing so with the theme that he first instantiated in his Draka series. To wit, what happens when a group of people is put in an environment where they are a technologically advanced minority? How do they behave, and indeed how should they, towards a backward majority. What type of society will arise?

In the Draka books, the Draka are a ruthless, expansionist, slave owning power. In "The Chosen", he gave us a very slightly more benign version. Then in the Nantucket trilogy, he created two societies. The Republic is explictly the US; benign and expansionistic. Walker's Kingdom of Greater Archaea is literally sadistic, and aggressively imperialistic.

Now, Conquistador takes it further, and is more nuanced. The breakaway society is aristocratic and, where it suits itself, ruthless. But there is no slavery, or even the serf-like chattals posited in his other books. The leader is admirable at times; a benevolent dictator. Whereas with the Draka, Nantucket and Chosen scenarios, few readers would empathise with the villains, here it is fuzzier. In fact, this society and its leader, Rolfe, map closely into that of Isketerol's in the Nantucket books. Recall in those that Isketerol is shown as bold, as per his sneak attack on Nantucket itself, but also as genuinely concerned for his society, and humane when he can afford to be, because in the long run, this yields more.

If you have read and enjoyed Stirling's other books, then you will too, here.
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43 of 48 people found the following review helpful By Steve BRADY on May 16, 2003
Format: Hardcover
With Conquistador S.M. Stirling maintains and builds on the standard his readers have come to expect from the author of the Draka and Island in the Sea of Time series. Like Stirling's last offering, The Peshawar Lancers, Conquistador is essentially an Alternate History, although partaking also of elements of other genres such as techno-thriller, action-adventure, crime, utopian romance and even Western. It will be of interest therefore not just to diehard SF and AH fans, but to those who enjoy these other genres.
The tale opens in 1946, when John Rolfe VI, wounded WWII combat veteran and scion of an old (by US standards!) if now impoverished Virginian colonial family accidentally creates a mysterious shimmering silver gateway in the cellar of his Oakland, California, house, whilst tinkering with his radio set (a fine vintage 1940s SF plot device this!) A gate which opens on another America, undiscovered by Europeans, through which Rolfe and those he lets in on his secret can go back and forth at will, even if they have no idea how it works.
It is typical of Stirling's impressive historical erudition and worldbuilding skills that he supplies a detailed, convincing allohistorical rationale for this. A timeline in which Alexander the Great did not die young, but went on to found an empire from the Atlantic to the Bay of Bengal. Whilst Poul Anderson in Eutopia built a hi-tech Hellenistic scientific-industrial 20-Century civilization on this premise, Stirling equally convincingly goes the opposite way. His Hellenistic Eurasian empire has stagnated by 1946 at a medieval level, with quarrelsome successor states surrounded by barbarian tribes, and thus has yet to cross the Atlantic. An Appendix describing in some detail the world thus created is a fascinating addendum to Stirling's tale.
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22 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Eric Oppen on February 10, 2003
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
S.M. Stirling goes from strength to strength as an author, and his latest outing shows it.
Put simply, this book's about a man who finds a way to an alternate-America never seen by white men from 1945 California---and the consequences of his decisions. John Rolfe VI is Not Nice in the way so many of Stirling's characters are, but compared to the _real_ villains, he's very nice indeed. His ideas of Utopia are not what I would choose, but make a lot of sense considering where he's starting from and who he is. I could fare farther and do worse than to live in his "New Virginia."
When a "First Side" game warden stumbles across evidence of large-scale smuggling of endangered species, he has to team with a person from "New Virginia," Rolfe's new country, to put things to rights.
There's a few clues that "First Side" isn't _quite_ our own timeline; I spotted a reference to a Mark Twain novel that was altered, and there are other clues here and there.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Jeanne Tassotto VINE VOICE on December 5, 2006
Format: Mass Market Paperback
That Alexander the Great did not die in 323 BCE but instead lived another 40 years. His empire expanded even further and was maintained by his sons. Rome never rose, all the tribes of the Middle East (including the Jews) were either eliminated, assimulated or exiled. Christianity and Islam never happened. The Enlightment and Industrial Revolution never occured. Now imagine that this all took place in an alternate universe, one that was discovered in 1946 by a WWII vet fooling around with his ham radio in his Oakland California basement. Just what would happen?

Stirling speculates that the vet would let just a select few in on this discovery and that this group of former army buddies would attempt to shape a world without the mistakes that they perceived as causing the horros they had endured over the past few years. The story then goes forward to the 'present day' 2009. Another young war veteran has stumbled on the secret of the 'Gate' and finds himself embroiled in the politics of this alternate reality.

This is an excellent story, one that is generally well thought out and logically developed. The founders of the new society were young American men who reflected the thoughts and prejudices of their time and social classes. They populated their new world with like-minded individuals and attempted to create a world with all of the virtues and none of the flaws of the world they left behind. They also kept a foothold in the original universe, attempting to take the best it had to offer while keeping it's problems out.

There are a few flaws with the book. Stirling does go on at great length about details, particularly those concerning food. Coincidences tend to be just a bit too convenient, particularly toward the end. There are a few continuity errors and this 582 page book would be a better 450 - 500 page one. Still it is an intriguing story, most of the characters are compelling and the end begs for a sequel.
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More About the Author

I'm a writer by trade, born in France but Canadian by origin and American by naturalization, living in New Mexico at present. My hobbies are mostly related to the craft -- I love history, anthropology and archaeology, and am interested in the sciences. The martial arts are my main physical hobby.

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