cover image Stone Spring

Stone Spring

Stephen Baxter. Roc, $25.95 (512p) ISBN 978-0-451-46418-7

Baxter launches the Northland trilogy with this solid alternate history that stands nicely alone. In Northland, the stretch of land that is now the North Sea, adolescent Ana celebrates her “blood tide” in the matriarchal village of Etxelur while worrying about her missing father and her older sister, Zesi, who seems less interested in her savage Pretani betrothed than in his younger brother. After a tsunami kills most of the villagers, Ana is inspired by Novu, an ex-slave from Jericho, to attempt to build a wall that will hold back the sea and prevent her land from sinking. Typical Baxter touches include a large but not unwieldy cast of characters and a sudden shift forward in time, but the well-researched setting (complete with endnotes) and occasionally over-the-top interpersonal and intertribal drama keep things fresh. (Nov.)