Thursday, November 24, 2011

Friday Reads - The Sterkarm Series by Susan Price

by Susan Price

"Beware of shaking hands with a Sterkarm!" goes the folk saying. Why the warning? The members of this wild 16th-century Scottish clan are left-handed, and while they smile and offer the right hand, the left wields a dagger.
When a 21st-century mega-corporation opens a Time Tube to the 16th century, the stiff-backed CEO finds his plans for exploiting the mineral and tourism possibilities of the ancient English-Scottish border frustrated by the Sterkarms--raiding parties of men he regards as primitive animals.

On the other side of the Time Tube, anthropologist Andrea Mitchell has been sent to live with the Sterkarms to be the corporation's informant and translator. There she is surprised to find herself admired for her generous curves and accepted warmly by the volatile and affectionate--but intermittently murderous--clansmen. When her lover, Per, is grievously wounded on a raid, she persuades Old Toorkild, the chief, to allow his handsome and adored son to be transported to the 21st century for healing. But when Per awakes in a world four centuries ahead of his own, his terror and suspicions of treachery bring down a wild collision between heartless technology and a ferocious people skilled in passionate defense of their life and lands.

Winner of the Guardian Fiction Prize in England, Susan Price's The Sterkarm Handshake--a richly textured love story, a vivid and sometimes humorous portrayal of confrontation between cultures, and a thumping good page-turner--should find enthusiastic fans among teen-fantasy and time-travel buffs. (Ages 12 and older) --Patty Campbell


by Susan Price
Andrea Mitchell returns to the past, only it's not exactly the past she visited in The Sterkarm Handshake (HarperCollins, 2000). Her nasty ex-boss at FUP asks once again for her translating services, and Andrea agrees to go back through the Time Tube to the 16th century–against her better judgment–hoping she will be reunited with her lover, Per.

Andrea departs and learns that she's been sent to a wholly different dimension, in which the people she lovingly remembers exist but do not recognize her. Instead of buying the loyalty of the Sterkarms, the company she works for initiates a violent overthrow by pitting them against their enemy clan, the Grannams. When an ill-fated wedding draws to its inevitable conclusion, the company's plans are set in motion, and Andrea must unravel them.

Though Price re-explains the setup from book one, familiarity with that novel gives this one greater emotional resonance. The plot moves quickly, and there's as much or more violence than in the previous book. The idea of a past that's actually a part of another dimension gets a bit confusing (16-A, 16-B), but it effectively comes together in a cliff-hanger ending.

The impersonal, inhuman violence of the 21st-siders is subtly, effectively juxtaposed with the brutality and anger of the 16th-siders. Andrea again faces an impossible but emotionally engaging situation: choosing between her murderous 16th-century lover and her destructive 21st-side counterparts.


Since it's Black Friday today, I've prepared a double book recommendation. ;)

I highly recommend these books to anyone who enjoys time travel, science fiction, fantasy, Scotland and romance! These are real page-turners, but unfortunately they're not very popular. Probably because they were not mainstream. Such a pity. The only way to find them is in used books' stores, but they're completely worth it. My copies are old library ones, and I treasure them immensely. *-*.

I'd give them 5674323 stars if I could. 5 are just not enough.

The alternate-universe 16th century, the Sterkarms (all such rich, complex and well-written characters!), the interesting 'time tube', the references to the old cultures and languages, the issue of greedy 21st century people wanting to exploit the land of the 'less developed' and naïve medieval Sterkarms, the 'forbidden romance', all of it joins in to make a GREAT book! I mean, no wonder the first volume won the 1999 Guardian Children's Fiction Prize!

These books are labeled as YA by some, but I really don't see why. To me they are adult reads, with real issues mixed in with fantasy.

I absolutely fell in love with Andrea and Per, and they also broke my heart.

As soon as I was done with The Sterkarm Handshake, I ran and got myself a copy of A Sterkarm Kiss. And, seriously, so should you. These are gems, master pieces. No, Susan Price didn't pay me anything to say this, I'm just being honest. LOL

Too bad she never came around to writing the third part... :((



  1. This is what I call Science Fiction for sure!
    If it was a movie, seriously, I wouldn't watch it. Too much information for me, seems like Avatar (sorry fans, I hate this movie). But the book seems the best way of telling this story. And what happened to Per on A Sterkarm Kiss? I want to knoooowwww >.<
    Oh dammit! I hate to read this books UHAUAHAUA

  2. Hi! I have written the third book about Per and Andrea. It's with my agent now, but she's keeping very quiet...

    1. *screams in delight!!!!* That is the most awesome news! Really, I'm so happy to hear (read) that! :D Can't wait!!!!


I would love to read what you have to say. :)