The Scourge of God (novel)

The Scourge of God (novel)

Infobox Book
name = The Scourge of God
title_orig =
translator =

image_caption =
author = S. M. Stirling
illustrator =
cover_artist =
country = United States
language = English
series = The Emberverse series
genre = Science fiction novel
publisher = Roc Books
release_date = 2008
media_type = Print ((hardcover))
pages = 464
isbn = 0451462289
preceded_by = The Sunrise Lands
followed_by = The Sword of the Lady

The Scourge of God (2008) is an post-apocalyptic 2008 novel by alternate history author S. M. Stirling. It deals with events immediately following The Sunrise Lands and is a part of the Emberverse series.

Plot introduction

The novel continues the journey of Rudi Mackenzie and his companions as they travel across the former United States a generation after "The Change" killed off technology and plunged the world into a new Dark Age, on their quest to Nantucket, where rumor has it The Change originated.

Explanation of the novel's title

The novel comes out of the title Sethaz gave himself at the end of "The Sunrise Lands":

"I am the Scourge of God". If you had not sinned greatly, He would not have delivered you into my hands. [cite book | last=Stirling | first=S.M. | authorlink=S.M. Stirling | title=The Sunrise Lands| location=New York | publisher=Roc | pages=453 | date=2007 |id=ISBN 0451461703]

Plot summary

Rudi Mackenzie and company stage a rescue of Mathilda Arminger, Odard Liu, and Ingolf Vogeler from High Seeker Kuttner. They manage to free their companions and kill Kuttner, but not before he becomes possessed and almost strangles Rudi. Following their victory Frederick Thurston decides to travel with Rudi to Nantucket instead of staying in Boise to fight his brother Martin Thurston.

Back in Twin Falls, the Prophet Sethaz tasks High Seeker Twain and Major Grabber to kill Rudi. Rudi meanwhile comes upon a group of Mormon rebels including Rebecca Nystrup and her brother. They join up with Rudi and reach the Deseret town of Picabo, now occupied by Church Universal and Triumphant. Ingolf comes up with a plan to have himself, Rudi, Edain Aylward, and Odard to pose as slavers, with Rebecca acting as one of their slaves, in an effort to infiltrate the town. Edain, however, in an effort to avoid blowing their cover has to attempt to hit an apple off of Rebecca's head but misses and kills her. Ingolf's plan goes off the night before the CUT forces leave but it is interrupted by Grabber who wounds Rudi. Ingolf manages to lead the party to safety while the Mormon rebels go into the wilds.

Still being chased by Grabber, Rudi's company attempts to find a place they can hold up so Rudi can heal. While unconscious Rudi has an out-of-body experience where he receives a vision from Odin who tells him he will not die of his wounds but instead will die in an act of self sacrifice for his people. Ritva Havel, while hunting a deer is ambushed by a CUT scout. Thought Ritva defeats him, he warns her that he and High Seeker Twain have already captured her sister. Ritva finds her sister and kills Twain, but not before Mary lost an eye. The whole company is later discovered by a group of Bhuddist monks and they winter in their monastery. While Ignatius receives a vision from Mary telling him to look after Mathilda.

After leaving the monks the company is joined by Virginia Kane. As the group enters Sioux territory they are greeted by Sioux chief Red Leaf and his soldiers who demand that they leave. Virginia, however, announces herself and it is discovered that Red Leaf was friends with her father, but he is dead now killed by a rival rancher and his CUT allies. Red Leaf gives the group sanctuary but they run into the group of ranchers chasing Virginia, accompanied by Major Grabber. Grabber and Rudi fight and Rudi is victorious but refuses to kill Grabber when he asks him too. The ranchers and the CUT are driven away after the two forces accidently upset some lions. Rudi and company stay with Red Leaf's tribe but are forced to leave when Grabber returns with reinforcements. With the help of Red Leaf's son they manage to get in front of a million stampeding buffaloes thus losing Grabber.

Rudi and company make it to Iowa and thanks to Ingolf's connections with a local influential farmer are able to make it to Des Moines where they plan to get someone to finance a trip into the eastern deathlands. The group, however, is ambushed by the State Police. Rudi, Ingolf, Mathilda and Odard are all captured while the rest are able to flee. It appears that the Bossman of Iowa is angry with Ingolf for never completing the salvaging operation into the eastern deathlands. Rudi volunteers to retrieve the goods that were abandoned in Illinois. The Bossman agrees but his one condition is that Rudi must do it alone in one month.

As Rudi continues his quest, events back in Oregon come to a boil. The leaders of the Meeting have decided that the CUT threat is too great to ignore and agree to take action against him. They decide to secure control of Pendleton. An army is formed among the member nations of the Meeting led by Astrid Larsson, with Lady Tiphaine as second in command. As the army marches toward Pendleton, Astrid leads a black op to capture the Bossman of Pendleton and his family. With the help of spy in the service of Sandra Arminger, Astrid, Eilir Mackenzie, Alleyne Loring, John Hordle and other members of the Rangers, sneak into the city and get access to the Bossman's palace. Meanwhile, BD, a merchant in the service of the Meeting, gets invited to a party the Bossman is throwing. While there she sees that both President Thurston and Sethaz are present along with soldiers from their respective nations.

Astrid's plan goes off and when it appears they will be successful in capturing the Bossman and his family, Sethaz incites the crowd to attack the Rangers who are forced to flee with only the Bossman. Tiphaine is able to rescue them but Astrid has been injured and cannot take command of the army, leaving it to Tiphaine. Thanks to a traitor from Boise, Tiphaine knows she is now outnumbered by the combined forces of Boise, CUT, and Pendleton. She attempts a fighting retreat in an effort to buy time for the infantry to escape. During the battle Chuck Barstow, commander of the Clan Mackenzie forces, is killed in battle but not before telling his son Oak to retreat. The Bearkillers attempt to buy time for them to get away but their commander Eric Larsson loses his hand and almost lost his life except for quick action by Mike Havel Jr. Chuck is last seen awakening in an idyllic afterlife.

Back home the Mackenzies and Bearkillers mourn their dead. Near Dun Juniper, Oak vows in front of Juniper Mackenzie to not rest until the killers of his father are defeated. At Larssdalen the Bearkillers drink to their dead while Mike Jr., now promoted to the rank of A-lister, is given a chance to assume the mantle of Lord Bear. He respectfully declines saying he has much to learn before he can accept the position. [cite book | last=Stirling | first=S.M. | authorlink=S.M. Stirling | title=The Scourge of God| location=New York | publisher=Roc | pages=464 | date=2008 |id=ISBN 0451462289]

Characters in "The Scourge of God"

Major themes

Harriet Klausner notes in her review that with "Scourge" Stirling has taken the series away from post-apocalyptic fiction and into a "Greek Tragedy." She notes the visions that certain characters receive from "gods", incidents of demonic possessions, and uses of magic.cite web |url= |title=The Scourge of God Review |accessdate=2008-09-09 |author=Harriet Klausner |date=2008 |work=Book Review |]

Literary significance and reception

Generally reviews have been good for "Scourge". Harriet Klausner was quoted as saying: "Fans will remain enthralled once the shock lets up as the tale is filled with action, strong characters in conflict, vivid descriptions of a battered dying land trying to come back to life two plus decades since the Change, and a great cliffhanging climax." Publishers Weekly said of the novel: "Stirling eloquently describes a devastated, mystical world that will appeal to fans of traditional fantasy as well as post-apocalyptic SF." [cite web |url= |title=Fiction Reviews |accessdate=2008-09-09 |author= |date=07/28/2008 |work=Book Review |publisher= Publishers Weekly] The review on Monsters and Critics praised Stirling for vividly describing the political landscape of his fictional world while also declaring Rudi to be satisfyingly multifaceted. [cite web |url= |title=Book Review: The Scourge of God |accessdate=2008-09-20 |author=Sandy Amazeen |date=09/19/2008 |work= |publisher=Monsters and Critics] A reviewer from the Baltimore Science Fiction Society called the novel "a fun post apocalypse quest story with a twist."cite web |url= |title=The Scourge of God Review |accessdate=2008-10-07 |author=Dale Arnold |date= |work= |publisher=Baltimore Science Fiction Society]

The book ranked #19 on the New York Times fiction hardcover list for the week of September 19, 2008 [cite web |url= |title=Hardcover Fiction Best Sellers |accessdate=2008-09-17 |author= |date=09/21/2008 |work=Best Sellers List |publisher=New York Times] , and #139 on the combined USA Today list as of September 7, 2008. [cite web |url= |title=This week's top 150 best sellers |accessdate=2008-09-17 |author= |date=09/07/2008 |work=Best Sellers List |publisher=USA Today]

References to other works

*When Rudi introduces himself to the Governor of Iowa he says “Rudi Mackenzie, tanist the clan Mackenzie" and the governor replies “There can be only one.” This is a reference to "Highlander".


External links

* [ Sample chapters are available on the author's website]
* [ Podcast with Stirling promoting "The Scourge of God"]
* [ "The Scourge of God"] on LibraryThing

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