- Hardcover: 448 pages
- Publisher: Roc Hardcover (February 4, 2003)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0451459083
- ISBN-13: 978-0451459084
- Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.4 x 9.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
- Average Customer Review: 139 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #382,751 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Conquistador Hardcover – February 4, 2003
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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.
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
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The alternate California can only be accessed from one point, but people can go back and forth regularly between the two dimensions at that point. The discoverer and his friends exploit their discovery in a variety of ways that are consistent with the mindset you would expect from a person from that time-period and background. That's one of the strengths of this novel for me, though some people may find it disconcerting.
The discoverers act like Americans of 1946, not like Americans of 2003 or our idealized view of what Americans should have been like in 1946. That's something that a lot of people get wrong. The average American of 1946 was very different than the average American of our time, and that is reflected in this book. Fair warning: you may find some of the values of a few individual characters abhorrent--ranging from a mild genteel racism to even less desirable value systems. This is not a book about perfect people in a utopia. It is about people with both flaws and virtues. That includes the Indians, who are portrayed more sympathetically than in most Stirling books, though with plenty of warts.
This book was a long time in the planning. I'm pretty sure Steve was planning it as early as 1994 because I remember him asking some background questions for it on the old GEnie on-line network about that time. The planning and research show. Most of the time that's a good thing. The characters are generally well thought through. The alternate California is very well thought through as a political and economic entity and it seems very real.
At one point all of the thought and planning got in the way of my enjoyment of the book, though I'm sure many people will find the section involved fascinating. About two-thirds of the way through the book, a couple of people from the home time-line go to the alternate California. They spend the next forty to fifty pages wandering around and doing essentially nothing to advance the plot, though we do discover a lot about alternate California and the descriptions of what they see are wonderfully detailed. I think the book would have stronger if he had cut out about half of the travelogue. At the same time I'm very impressed by the amount of thought that went into working out how things would look and work in this alternate dimension.
This is not a perfect book, but it is very strong. I enjoyed it, and recommend it.
Dale Cozort (Author of American Indian Victories)
A couple more of my favorite people books are: "Temporary Duty" by Ric Locke and "A Brother's Price" by Wen Spencer.
The idea that the existance of a gate to another reality which is under constant and intensive use can be hidden from the general public is ludicrous.
All in all, very entertaining, the battle scenes as always and description of nature etc. are superb.
Recommended as an escapist book.