Setting: In a post apocalyptic version of Earth where the laws of physics have been altered. Some modern technology does not work, and some types of magic work.
First Sentence: Orlaith Arminger Mackenzie bore the first unlit torch forward to her father's pyre as the sun touched the low mountains to the West.
This novel is the fourteenth book in Stirling's Novels of the Change series. In this series something profound has altered the basic structure of Earth. Most modern technology, such as electricity, the internal combustion engine, and firearms no longer function. Most of humanity has died. Those that do survive must live in a manner reminiscent of the middle ages.
In the last seven novels of the series, Rudi Mackenzie and a group of mostly young adult knights and warriors travel across North America in search of a magic sword: The Sword of the Lady. Along the way they encounter the evil CUT sorcerers. Rudi uses the power of the sword to rally the kingdom to fight their evil enemy.
The last novel of the series, "The Given Sacrifice", looked to be the final grand battle between good and evil. Unfortunately, that book was a disappointment.
This novel is a reboot of the series. It's up to the next generation to go on a quest and fight evil. Rudi's daughter, Orlaith, is now the wielder of the Sword of the Lady. With her is Reiko, the young Empress of Japan.
Together, Orlaith and Reiko gather a group of mostly young adult knights and warriors to search for a magic sword. This is the fabled Grass-Cutting sword of Japan. Apparently, the sword is hidden somewhere in the desert east of the dead city of Los Angeles.
This book is mostly about the gathering of the members of the group. There is tons of exposition, and not so much plot. The novel ends right after the group sets off on their journey.
For me, this was an OK book.
As is usual for the author there is lots of description of clothes, food, weapons, houses and transportation systems.
I did like the fact that the author has widened the scope of the story. We learn about Japan after the change. And there is one chapter about events in Australia.
If you are interested in this series, I suggest that you read the books in order beginning with "Dies the Fire". This will help you better understand the social and political background of this novel.