The Peshawar Lancers [NOOK Book]

Overview

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 ...
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The Peshawar Lancers

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Overview

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….



 



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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
The Barnes & Noble Review
Alternative history novels are always intriguing, because they let us indulge in "what if?" What if an historical event hadn't happened, or happened in a different way with different consequences? The favorite possibility-rich scenarios of alternative historians seem to be "What if the South had won the Civil War?" and "What if the Nazis had triumphed in World War II?" In Peshawar Lancers, S. M. Stirling explores what the world would be like if the British Empire still dominated.

In the novel, the world as we know it took a turn in 1878, when a devastating shower of comets struck the Earth, from Moscow to the western Atlantic Ocean. Because of a climate shift caused by the tons of debris in the atmosphere, those people not killed by the impacts or resulting tsunamis began to die from starvation, cold, and the collapse of civilization. A massive migration to the south took place. In England, Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli organized an exodus -- the removal of as many people, supplies, and national treasures as possible to the British territories in India, South Africa, and Australia. Queen Victoria and the British government were evacuated to India and began to rebuild the Empire.

Now the year is 2025, and the Angrezi Raj (the British Empire in our timeline) rules much of the "civilized" world from its capitol in Delhi. The Imperial empire encompasses all of India, Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka, with viceroyalties in southern Africa and Australia and garrisons in the wilderness lands of Britain and North America. Its people coexist well despite the numerous different races and religions, but things are not entirely peaceful. Fierce Afghan raiders require constant military action on its northwestern border. The Satan-worshipping, cannibalistic Russians are an ominous presence to the north. The Dai-Nippon Empire is strengthening in Asia, and the Muslim Caliphate is an ever-present irritation to the west. Only the nation of France-outre-mer, along the Mediterranean in southern Europe and northern Africa, is a possible ally.

Suspicions are raised when separate attacks are made on twin siblings Athelstane and Cassandra King. Athelstane is an officer on leave from the Peshawar Lancers, who patrol the Afghan border. Cassandra is an astronomer traveling by airship from Delhi to Oxford to work with the Analytical Engine (a supercomputer of sorts). The Kings are sahib-log-landowners of English heritage, with no idea why they would be targeted for death. When a second attempt is made on his life, Athelstane and his orderly, Narayan Singh, join forces with the Political Service (think CIA) to find out why. Cassandra is sent to safety as tutor to the Imperial Princess.

Athelstane learns that Count Vladimir Obromovich Ignatieff, a Russian agent, has placed a price on his and Cassandra's heads. Ignatieff has in his possession Yasmini, a True Dreamer, who has "seen" that the deaths of the Kings would trigger the downfall of the empire, and he is gathering various anti-Raj forces to bring that about. When Yasmini escapes her Master, she runs to warn Athelstane of the plot against his family and the Royal Court. That sets Athelstane and his band of allies on a race across India to stop the conspiracy.

Stirling has the gift of rich, detailed description that makes the Anglo-Indian culture come to life on the page, providing a fascinating backdrop to this exciting tale of intrigue, battle, and romance in a world that could have been. (K.C.)

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 beconsidered by some in dubious taste. Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
KLIATT
As of A.D. 2025, 148 years after a violent spray of comets crashed into Earth, Angrezi Raj or the former British Empire encompasses some 17 million square miles (40 percent of the Earth's habitable surface) and 230 million humans (slightly less than 50 percent of the population). It is a constitutional monarchy centered in Delhi, India. Unfortunately, as Earth's temperatures dropped civilization came to a standstill. Because so many had to scramble just to survive, trains still run on steam, lancers still ride horses into battle. The only other major power is the Czar of All the Russias, a barbaric group who have bred seers to foretell future timelines and point the way to Cossack domination. This is a pretty cool alternate history: it takes a while to warm up, but it ends explosively. There's intrigue, romance, gripping drama, and fantastic military action all tied together by a seamlessly constructed timeline. Give this to your Harry Turtledove fans. KLIATT Codes: SA—Recommended for senior high school students, advanced students, and adults. 2002, Penguin Putnam, Roc, 482p., Hoy
VOYA
The fascinating premise of this remarkable alternative history proposes that in the mid
— Christopher Finer
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 2001 Cahners Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781101098981
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA)
  • Publication date: 1/7/2003
  • Sold by: Penguin Group
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 496
  • Sales rank: 106,187
  • File size: 494 KB

Meet the Author

S.M. Stirling

S. M. Stirling is the author of numerous novels, both on his own and in collaboration. A former lawyer and an amateur historian, he lives in the Southwest with his wife, Jan.


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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 13 )
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Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 13 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 22, 2012

    Very enjoyable!

    As a subject of HRH Queen Elizabeth, this book may have had more interest for me than other reviewers: interesting premise, facinating twist on "The Great Game", and very well written. I had dreams about this alternate future for months after reading the book.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 20, 2002

    IF YOU ENJOY ALTERNATE HISTORY, YOU WANT THIS BOOK!

    S.M. Stirling follows up his outstanding 'Islanders' series with another outstanding 'alternate' history novel. If you enjoy good plots, great character development, a twisty plot line, and a fast moving adventure, then you'll love this book. Mr.Stirling blends some of Kipling's style, some of Doyle's plot elements, and a unique style all his own in this adventure set in a universe in which the British Empire is alive and well with the Imperial Capital in India. As you turn the last page, you'll wish it were longer, or that the sequel was immediately to hand.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 9, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    reads more like a Victorian historical novel than a rewriting of history

    In 1878, comets strike the earth broadside. The debris in the atmosphere causes a seemingly endless winter while the oceans flood the coasts. The civilizations of the Northern Hemisphere collapse. English Prime Minister Disraeili and Queen Victoria lead a mass migration to the Indian subcontinent. <P>In 2025 the world contains two superpowers and several other smaller empires struggling for global domination. The Angrezi Raj, as the British Empire is now known, centers in Delhi, India. It primarily vies with the Russias for supremacy. Though the empire includes numerous races and religions, most live in harmony with one another, but the world as a whole is as dangerous as it ever has been. Two independent assaults occur on twins Peshawar Lancer Athelstane King and astronomer Cassandra King. Neither understands why someone would want them dead, but another attempt occurs. Based on the vision of a true dreamer, Russian Count Vladimir Ignatieff has foretold that the deaths of the Kings would begin the end of the British Empire. However, Athelstane will not sit idly by and just wait for his assassin to succeed. <P> THE PESHAWAR LANCERS is vivid detailed look at the late nineteenth century Indian subcontinent. The story line is deep and provides much insight, but fans of alternate history must understand that the plot reads more like a Victorian historical novel than a rewriting of history leading to a different future. SM Stirling shows his ability to paint quite a vivid tale of intrigue that will excite historical novel readers and those alternate history aficionados who relish a twenty-first century Victorian age. <P>Harriet Klausner

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 30, 2012

    Steampunk in the 21st Century

    A global disaster has devastated much of the US and Europe. England has been reduced to a handful of cannibal savages and the British Empire now calls India home. Curry isn't just takeaway - it's what's for dinner and the Queen's English is now closer to Bombay Welsh. Most of the the technological advances of the 20th Century never happened, and high-tech computing is done by Babbage's mechanical computing inventions.

    On this stage are supernatural villains and plots spanning nations, heroics and treachery.

    And, alas, an author whose ability to stitch it all together needs some more work.

    I'll probably read it again, though.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 15, 2011

    Steam punk alernate history sci-fi of a high order.

    Disagree with others - excellent plot and engaging characters. Lots of details lending credence to the central gimmicks. Gunga-din meets CM Forrester meets Honor Harrington. I really, really wish Stirling had followed this up more, more, more.

    For those who must make invidious comparisons - this seems to me similar to Naomi Povik's Napoleanic dragon wars - only grittier and more comprehensive in outlook.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 10, 2004

    Fast Paced Romp

    The Peshawar Lancers is another alternate history offering from S. M. Stirling. It is based on the premise that a large meteor shower struck Earth in 1878, halting technological development and creating years of winter and starvation, especially in the Northern Hemisphere. With the help of the British merchant fleet, a large portion of the population of England relocated to British India. Fast forward to the 21st century, India is the center of the British Empire, France rules southern Europe and North Africa, and Russia has become an evil empire ruled by ritual-cannibalistic Satan worshippers. The other major world powers are Dai-Nippon (Japan and China) and the Caliphate (an Arab-based Muslim nation that stretches up through eastern Europe). Athelstane King, an Imperial army officer, and his scientist sister Cassandra have mysteriously become the targets for assassination. They must overcome their many attackers and solve the mystery of why they are targets. During this action filled romp across British India, the Kings pull several other nteresting characters into their quest, including the royal heir, Prince Charles, his sister Sita, the French ambassador, Henri de Vascogne, and a Russian seerist. Stirling's descriptions of the technology, geography and cultures of this alternate world are detailed and fairly believable. The action sequences are good and the story moves along at a fair clip, but I never really connected with the characters. They all seem a bit too clichéd and don't seem to evolve during the course of the story. The villains are very bad indeed, the heroes are brave, the royalty is noble, and the sidekicks are trusty. It might be more enjoyable for someone who likes Edwardian style novels or the Kipling British Raj stories.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 22, 2014

    Cool dude

    Great read but wish we he had writen more of this world! Please Stirling Return to this kick ass world! I'd like to see how the states made out


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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 13, 2011

    Decent story, but not his best work.

    It was a really interesting premise with a clearly well thought out and detailed world. But the story, at least to me, seemed like it was quickly done and not much more than a generic adventure tale. I would like to see more in this universe though.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 13, 2002

    21st Century Gunga Din

    White man's burden dressed up for the 21st century. Bring back the Drakas...

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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    Posted April 24, 2009

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    Posted September 26, 2013

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    Posted February 5, 2012

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