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    Review of THERE WILL BE DRAGONS by John Ringo (see his website)

    Baen, November 2003

    For a thousand years, Earth has been almost paradise. A computer artificial intelligence, 'Mother,' keeps track of everything, prevents explosions, and supplies enough energy and nanite technology for everyone to live in plenty. A few recreators dream about the romance of medieval life, but for the most part, they enjoy the long lives that nanite technology allows. There is one problem in paradise. Despite the long lives, humanity is under-reproducing itself. According to some calculations, it will die out entirely if trends don't change. And a faction of the ruling council has come up with a scheme to change everything. That faction is essentially fascism. When the council splits, war breaks out and all of the energy produced by 'Mother' is suddenly drawn into the conflict.

    Edmund, a smith and medieval recreator, gathers an increasing group of refugees into a town. Since Mother doesn't allow steam engines, let alone internal combustion, they need to recreate medieval technology. But not everyone is content to live in peace--bandits are becoming increasingly organized--and supported by the fascist council members. Former recreator and recently healed Herzer joins the town, gets to work in timber cutting, then joins Edmund's brain-child. A Roman legion. Legions, Edmond reasons, stayed a Republic as long as it did because of the legion. Peasant levies and heavy cavalry, in contrast, lead to feudal serf/noble societies--something that Edmund wants to avoid but that he can only prevent in his own section of the world.

    THERE WILL BE DRAGONS starts a bit slowly, although the world-building is interesting and convincing. The background, AI wars, Mother, and energy currenty all make for a well-conceived future (I'm not sure that a world where reenactors stop around the beginning of the 20th century really makes sense for the 50th century, nor that 50th century citizens would be more aware of the evils of Pol Pot than we are of the evils of particular old kingdom Egyptian phaeros, but hey, we have to give authors a bit of leeway on the cultural things. Parts of Herzer's life also read like an adolescent male's fantasy--how about that bikini-clad elf-warrior on the cover, anyway.

    I found myself getting angry at author John Ringo's (see more reviews of novels by Ringo) strange belief that arming the people does much good (it certainly didn't keep Iraq or Afghanistan from totalitarian evils), but in the end, his story convinced me. The Roman legion training and the battle sequences which make up the final third of the book were a great payoff for the reading investment. Naturally, DRAGONS leaves a lot of loose ends hanging--plenty of material for sequels, but I'm looking forward to reading more.

    Four Stars

    Reviewed 4/14/04

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