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The Peshawar Lancers [Kindle Edition]

S. M. Stirling
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (97 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $7.99
Kindle Price: $5.99
You Save: $2.00 (25%)
Sold by: Penguin Group (USA) LLC


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Book Description

In the mid-1870s, a violent spray of comets hits Earth, decimating cities, erasing shorelines, and changing the world's climate forever. And just as Earth's temperature dropped, so was civilization frozen in time. Instead of advancing technologically, humanity had to piece itself back together….


In the twenty-first century, boats still run on steam, messages arrive by telegraph, and the British Empire, with its capital now in Delhi, controls much of the world. The other major world leader is the Czar of All the Russias. Everyone predicts an eventual, deadly showdown. But no one can predict the role that one man, Captain Athelstane King, reluctant spy and hero, will play….


Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Aimed at readers who thrill to King, Empire and the fluttering Union Jack, as well as to brave white heroes, their faithful dusky-skinned servants and sneering villains, this alternative history from the bestselling author of the Islander novels supposes that in 1878 "a series of high-velocity heavenly bodies struck the earth," wreaking havoc throughout Europe and North America. Because much of the British merchant fleet survived the "Fall," the English upper classes were able to escape to the Asian subcontinent. As a result, the British raj, extending from Delhi through India, Afghanistan and the Kashmir, still exists in the 21st century, though the technology consists of 19th-century vintage railways, hydrogen airships and a turbine-powered building-sized "Engine," the equivalent of a computer. It's a nifty premise, but in trying to continue in the grand tradition of such adventure writers as Kipling, Lamb and Mundy, whom Stirling acknowledges as influences, the author fails to inject much life into his stock characters, from the heroic Captain Athelstane King of the Lancers and the captain's memsahib sister, Cassandra, to King's Sikh companion, his trusty Muslim servant and the inevitable wise and helpful Jew. Unfortunately, this is less history altered than simply stopped, and the story is wordy pastiche rather than active inspiration. Not without humor, appendices survey the worldwide consequences of the Fall, complete with the succession of British monarchs from Victoria on. (Jan. 8)Forecast: Given recent events in Peshawar and the Northwest Frontier area, this novel is bound to attract more than usual attention. But since its tone is so at odds with today's grim reality, it may be considered by some in dubious taste.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

In 1878, a deadly asteroid shower decimates the population of the Northern Hemisphere and forces the relocation of the British Empire to its southern colonies in India, Australia, and South Africa. Two centuries later, when the British Raj faces deadly threats from rival empires, the crown prince places his trust and the fate of the empire in the hands of a young officer in the Peshawar Lancers and his twin sister, a brilliant and innovative scientist. The author of the "Islander" series (e.g., Island in the Sea of Time, Against the Tide of Years, On the Oceans of Eternity) has written a remarkable alternate history. Stirling's impeccable research infuses both plot and characters with depth and verisimilitude, creating a tale of high adventure, romance, and intrigue that belongs in most sf collections.

Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

Product Details

  • File Size: 769 KB
  • Print Length: 496 pages
  • Publisher: Roc (January 7, 2003)
  • Sold by: Penguin Group (USA) LLC
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #99,899 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great, great, throwback fun January 10, 2005
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Guilty pleasure - thy name is THE PESHAWAR LANCERS.

The first thought that occurs to one after reading this ripping little yarn is that Harry Turtledove now has some serious competition for the title of Alternative History King. A Young Pretender has arrived and it turns out to be a long haired ex-barrister who cut his literary teeth writing up salacious tales of Aryan lesbian dominatrixes hailing from a South Africa that never existed.

In THE PESHAWAR LANCERS, Stirling weaves loads of Kipling, Mundy, and Hobson-Jobson into a throwback tale of a British Empire that never was. A shower of comets strikes the Northern Hemisphere in the fall of 1878, plunging the most advanced half of the globe into a deep freeze for several years. Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli gets a quick heads-up on the climatic consequences from scientific advisors led by Lord Kelvin...and before you know it he's managed to use what remains of the Royal Navy and British merchant marine to ship off the the richest and most useful elements of British civilization off to Britannia's southern hemisphere holdings: Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, and, for Queen and Court and capital, the Raj in India while the rest of Eurasia and North America, save for Japan, a resurgent Arab caliphate and a French remnant fleeing to the Maghreb, plunges into death, canibalism and barbarism. What emerges a century and a half later is a wild and crazy early industrial world where an Indianized Raj still employing steam engines and Martini-Henry rifles now rules half the world from Delhi - setting an exotic stage for adventure that Kipling or Haggard would have thrilled to.
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19 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Rousing Good Adventure Story! March 9, 2002
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I think that it was Coleridge who coined the phrase, "a willful suspension of disbelief", which is, in my mind, what it takes to enjoy good fiction. Readers with imagination and the ability to "suspend" are going to love this book. It makes no pretentions of being other than what it it is, a really good adventure story, replete with sword fights; manly heroes who admit and enjoy their vices; tough, but still feminine heroines, who are excellent shots, and really BAD bad guys. Author Stirling acknowledges inspiration from such former great adventure writers as Burroughs, Sabatini and Talbot Mundy, whose "King of the Khyber Rifles" features as its main character, one Athelstan King. Lancers' featured character is Athelstane King, but Stirling's fast moving plot is very different from that of Mundy. Placed in alternative history following a global disaster caused by meteors hitting Earth in Victorian times, King and his friends battle to save the remains of the British Empire, now centered in India from the machinations of an evil Russian agent and his minions. If you are looking for serious, New York Times' approved fiction, save your money. But if you, like me, really enjoy a well conceived and crafted, fast paced adventure story, you will not be disappointed. Don't start it, though, unless you have time to read it from cover to cover. Once you are "into" Mr. Stirling's world, you won't want to come home again until the story is finished. This book only needs two things: first, a sequel, and, second, a good (as in GOOD) movie version.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Feels like Rudyard Kipling October 23, 2002
Another ingenious alternate history novel from Steve Stirling. He throws in a fascinating amalgam of 19th century Britain and India. Along the way, you get to learn a bunch of Indian words and, at least I did, salivate over the food descriptions.
The basic premise is that of a comet almost destroying the world, via many years of dust being thrown into the upper atmosphere, and inducing harsh winters. Plus of course the massive tidal waves from the comet's impact. He draws on recent scientific work on mass extinctions of the dinosaurs, and the nuclear winter hypothesis that arose in the last years of the Cold
Patriotic American readers may not be thrilled by Stirling's scenario. What is left of the United States is populated by howling savages. And the British Raj lays nominal claim to North America. Though it barely bothers to enforce it, so irrelevant is the region. As if the American Revolution never happened. Europeans may not feel any better. There are cannibals on the Rhine, and what is left of French culture huddles along North Africa. The British Empire has decamped to India, with the aristocrats merging into the Indian upper castes. The bad fellas are cannibalistic Russians, worshipping the demon god Chernobog. This is the only unfortunate aspect of the novel. The evil doers are totally cardboard.
The crux of the actions happen in Afghanistan and the North-West Frontier of our Pakistan. The battle scenes are written with Stirling's usual flair in such matters. Plus, of course, his signature description of the rural landscape. Those of you who have read his General or Nantucket series will recognise this.
He has clearly positioned this as the start of a new series, given the amount of careful research he has done. Comparable, perhaps, to that which he put into the Bronze Age for the Nantucket series. We have much to look forward to.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars A romp
Steampunk meets Robert E Howard's El Borak,an adventure across an alternate Raj,a great read.
If you haven't read any of S.M Stirlings books this is a great way to do so.
Published 24 days ago by Ian Hogan
4.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable but....
In my opinion this is what Stirling does best. The book is an adventure driven pot boiler, and it is fairly believable given the basic hypothesis, but parts of the book began to... Read more
Published 3 months ago by Dr Markway
5.0 out of 5 stars Post Apocolyptic Steampunk Alternate World History
Personally I classify this as a fun read which fits both steampunk and post apocolypse categories. With use of both lighter than air rigid airships and mechanical computers in a... Read more
Published 3 months ago by Richard H. Wood
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Stand Alone Novel
As with many other of his books, the author creates a great alternative history experience. In this case, imagine that the British Empire uprooted from England during Victoria's... Read more
Published 4 months ago by Dan in Brooklyn
4.0 out of 5 stars Good mix
Interesting...kind of a mix between steam punk and alt history. I did like the intrigued, but it started to drift into the occult at times.
Published 5 months ago by Curt W Taylor
5.0 out of 5 stars Exciting Story
In The Peshawar Lancers S. M.Stirling writes an exciting adventure story set in an alternate history in which a comet strikes the Earth in the year 1878. Read more
Published 6 months ago by David Hoffman
5.0 out of 5 stars Stirling at his best, an early example
An outstanding book that needs a sequel to close the story line. A believable What-if version of Halsey comet wiping out the Victorian world.
Published 7 months ago by Philip D. Long
3.0 out of 5 stars O.K....but.
It starts with a fascinating concept but soon devolves into standard sword and semi-sorcery. Not that there's anything wrong with that, I just expected more. Read more
Published 9 months ago by spike
5.0 out of 5 stars IMHO this is one of the greats.
If you want a well written alternative history adventure, don't miss this one. It contains a great story line, lively-well written-characters and lots of excitement. Mr. Read more
Published 9 months ago by Donald Ribelin
5.0 out of 5 stars A VERY great read!
S. M. Sterling has done it again, and arguably has here reached near perfection. In a world devastated by natural disasters, 18th century Britain lives on - in India! Read more
Published 10 months ago by R. Boland
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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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