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High King of Montival by S.M. Stirling book review

High King of Montival by S.M. StirlingIf you took every single dinner party or mealtime out of the second phase of the Dies the Fire series, it wouldn’t have taken four books just to get Rudy and the gang to and back from Nantucket. To its limited credited, High King of Montival does manage to get them back in one book. But not without visiting everyone along the way. And attending all their dinner parties. A dinner party for the Maine Vikings. A dinner party for the Boise nobility. A dinner party in Wisconsin. A meal out in the wilderness. On and on until there’s more meals and dinners than battles. More dinner parties than the hobbits ate at in Lord of the Rings.

Four books in and there’s finally a sword, which is a deus ex machine that can read minds, project thoughts, teach languages and do everything. Characters get married. There’s a brief battle against the Cutters over in Canada’s Alberta province, which is the only place in North America to still have something like a non-feudal democratic government. And not much else.

The High King of Montival reruns the characters and situations from the previous books, wrapping them up, but mostly dragging them out. There are a few good moments, one as the travelers climb to the top of Toronto’s CN tower, but it’s a rare exception to a narrative which satisfies itself with more homecomings, detailed descriptions of food and repetitive banter. There’s a brief spurt of energy with the Cutter ambush but that dissolves into a generic homecoming. It’s not quite a cliffhanger, but it’s clear this story will drag on through more and more books.

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