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22gigantes.com - Carnegie Medal finalist and winner of the Guardian Fiction Prize: Beware of shaking hands with a Sterkarm . . . The sixteenth-century Sterkarms are tough, determined, and brave. They are also vicious, violent, and dirty, and spend most of their time warring with neighbors and stealing livestock. But what they lack in charm, they make up for in pristine land. Scotland in the sixteenth century is teeming with natural resources and fossil fuels that the twenty-first century lacks. FUP, a modern-day corporation, intends to make billions by mining the past with an industrial secret: a time machine. To facilitate their plunder, they send Andrea Mitchell, an anthropologist with a knack for languages, through the Time Tube to the sixteenth century to study the community. There, she meets Per Sterkarm, a handsome young warrior, and despite their differences, the two fall in love. When Per learns of FUP’s intentions, he vows to protect his land and destroy the invaders. In the bloody battle that follows, Andrea will have to choose not only to which side she belongs, but also which century . . . Perfect for fans of Outlander, The Sterkarm Handshake is a rich historical portrait about the clashing of cultures, finding home, and falling in love.
Most helpful customer reviews 13 of 13 people found the following review helpful. Colorful and exciting time travel novel By John DiBello "The Sterkarm Handshake" is based on an intriguing science-fiction/fantasy concept--time travel to the 16th century--that actually takes a backseat to the examination of cultural differences and a surprisingly effective and subtle love story between a twenty-first century researcher and a sixteenth-century warrior. Has researcher Andrea "gone native" in the stronghold of the warrior clan Sterkarms, or will she stand by her 21st century corporation when war threatens to break out between then and her 16th century friends--and her love, the tender but strong-willed Per? The great strength in Susan Price's writing is that, like Andrea, we can see no easy answers in the choice between the two worlds: yes, the 21st-century corporation is ruthless and intends to exploit the natural resources of the 16th, but at the same time the 16th century warriors are every bit as merciless in their constant raiding. The love story is handled subtlely and effectively, and Andrea's confusion over which world to stand by is believable and involving.Price is excellent at the details of portraying the world of the sixteenth century: the strong smells, the muted colors, the brotherhood of the warriors and the affection with which they hold each other. Even Per's faithful dogs are well-rounded and intriguing characters. With any novel with this much going on, however, there's a few plot holes that nagged at me: most notably the introduction of Joe, a twenty-first century homeless man who just *happens* to be the descendant of the Sterkarms, just *happens* to run into Andrea and Per, just *happens* to be wearing a t-shirt that says Sterkarm, and just *happens* to be able to understand some of Per's archaic speech. Such a wild string of coincidences weakens the effectiveness of Joe's character, who's essential to contrast Andrea's reticence to choose one world over another. Another character, the head of the 21st century corporation, is almost too cartoonish: an evil corporate raider determined to strip-mine the 16th century, leaving no one alive to stand in his way. By the time he's prancing about in military garb with a swagger stick, he's gone from two-dimensional to a caricature.Still, it's an amazing and involving read, with great characterization, intriguing cultural examination, fanciful concept, and exciting battle sequences in both centuries. Susan Price has written over thirty books, but she's still not yet a big name in the US. This book could catapult her into the big league. 4 of 4 people found the following review helpful. "Elves Bless with One Hand, Blight with the Other..." By R. M. Fisher In the 21st century an invention has finally been perfected: The Time Tube, which allows contemporary scientists, researches and corporate money-makers to travel back into the 16th century and mingle with the locals there. Think of the possibilities! Plentiful supplies of oil, gold and coal, an extraordinary opportunity to study ancient life, and a pollution-free resort for those wealthy enough to make the trip. The corporation FUP has already purchased the troublesome borderlands between 16th century Scotland and England in order to begin development.But there's just one problem: the Sterkarms. This warrior tribe are those that lay claim to the land, and have a reputation that has gained themselves the saying: "Never shake hands with a Sterkarm." Since all the Sterkarms are left-handed, it is easy for them to conceal a dagger in their right hands whilst shaking with their left, and as such are utterly untrustworthy. They consider the 21st century people to be the "Elves" from their folklore, yet despite negotiations and bribes of the Elves "wee white pills" (that is, aspirin), the Sterkarms have no real interest in giving up their lands and way of life in order for the Elves to move in - in fact their raids upon survey teams have begun to be a nuisance to the 21st-siders.Andrea Mitchell is a young field-researcher, caught directly between the two sides. On the one hand is the needs/wants of her own world, and the demands of her superior Windsor who holds her career in the palm of her hand. On the other is the Sterkarms who have welcomed her into their lives like a guest and whom she has come to greatly respect and admire. On top of this she has developed feelings for the chieftain's son Per, and he for her, which makes her mediating role a *lot* more complicated.Susan Price presents a wonderfully thought-provoking novel that deals with the inevitable discord between two opposing cultures when one wants something from the other. She is (thankfully) very gifted in presenting a case for both sides of the argument and paints rather a lot of grey within the situation. The Sterkarms are not presented as tree-hugging, circle-dancing New-Agers like many books that deal with such people do, but instead as warm, affectionate *loving* people that nevertheless engage in warfare, torture, bloodlust and selective memory whenever it suits them. On the other end of the scale is Windsor, who looks upon Sterkarms as "overgrown, rather dim and naughty children". This is to his own detriment considering the Sterkarms are more than capable of beheading him and displaying his head should it ever suit them. Both sides are so vividly portrayed that I felt myself switching alliances whenever the narrative moved: when the 21st century thugs were called in to exterminate the Sterkarms I hoped the Sterkarms would give them what was coming to them, but when the self-same men attempted an escape in the night, I was terrified for them that the Sterkarms would discover them.As the story begins, the Sterkarms ride out to retrieve stolen sheep from an enemy tribe rather than allow the 21st-siders to take care of it, and end up returning with a severely injured Per. A distraught Andrea and a conniving Windsor take him through the Tube and into the future, with Windsor plotting to use the beloved son as a hostage for the chieftain Toorkild's good behaviour. From there the crisis escalates as the two sides declare war on each other, with both sides severely underestimating the other, and Andrea caught once more in the middle: should she help the men that the Sterkarms hold captive, knowing that they had come into the past to slaughter them all? Or should she side with the Sterkarms knowing that their way of life might be obliterated with the greed of Windsor and his corporation? And finally comes the ultimate decision: to stay with her love Per in a world of drudgery and peril, or to give him up and stay in the drab and somewhat meaningless world of the 21st century."The Sterkarm Handshake" is a dense, immensely complicated book in its themes of intolerance, misunderstanding and inability to communicate: perhaps the main causes of all bloodshed in invasions and colonisation in our history books. Ultimately of course, the conclusion is somewhat melancholy; given that no real solution exists either in the book or in the real world to reconcile such different groups that live in such radically different ways. Price brings these differences to light wonderfully, what with Per's experiences in "Elfland" and Windsor's growing realisation that the Sterkarms cannot be controlled so easily.Furthermore, the use of the 21st century people as "Elves" is great to read if you are familiar with the folklore surrounding such beings, and the Sterkarm's interpretation of Andrea and the other's behaviour in terms of their limited knowledge. In fact, all of the Sterkarm's way of life is meticulously presented and realistic. "The Sterkarm Handshake" is a heavy read, but a rewarding one, and suitable for either gender above the age of ten, with enough ambiguity to keep one thinking for a very long time. Time travelling stories usually leave me cross-eyed, but since the Time Tube actually takes our contemporaries to another dimension, as well as another time, then there are no difficulties in trying to puzzle out the ramifications of such a visitation - ie, Andrea doesn't end up being her own great-great-something-grandmother, or other such confusing elements. 4 of 4 people found the following review helpful. A ROLLICKING ADVENTURE! By Christian Susan Price has written an engrossing and rollicking adventure story...one which not only egages the readers intelligence, but their imagination as well. Taking place in the 16th and 21st centuries simultaneously, this novel of the effects of modern man pillaging the past for his own gain rings true as any...and teaches a lot about integrity and morals along the way.In the 21st century, a mega-corporation has secretly done what the world has been striving for in the whole of history...create time travel. They've done this by marrying modern technology with old-school methodology, and though not completely accurate, have managed to land in 16th century Europe. A team of researchers are the first to arrive, and effectively convince the natives of that land that they are "Elves", capable of unlimited marvel and magick. The locals, a family by the name of Sterkarm, are afraid and easily manipulated by these strange beings who appear before them as if from nowhere. The Sterkarms, the fiercest clan in the land, are not as easily led as they lead others to believe. The researchers largely underestimate the Sterkarms cunning and treachery...hence the title of the book. Never, ever, shake hands with a Sterkarm. Hug them, kiss them...but don't rely on their word or their handshake. This is the mistake the researchers from the 21st side make. They rely on the natives' gullibility, which proves to be the downfall of the whole time-travel project...not to mention the violent death of many of its team.The team of researchers are there for only one reason. They recognize the pristine resources of unlimited capacity that the 16th century holds...and with virtually no one to stop them, they plot to make millions of dollars by raping the land of all of its splendor...minerals and ores that have long since become extinct, thanks to the mindless squandering by modern man. The Sterkarms, though, are not so easily decieved. The resulting adventure spans time and culture, aptly portraying the cause and effect nature of our every action, not only on ourselves, but others as well. LIke the classic tales of good vs. evil, "The Sterkarm Handshake" is an adventure on a grand scale, with a storyline that will make even the staunchest skeptic take pause! Graphic in it's violence and plot, this isn't for everyone...but is recommended for those who dare!Also recommended: "Exit to Reality"--Edith Forbes "The Child Garden"--Geoff Ryman See all 27 customer reviews...
Amazon.com "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 From Publishers Weekly Price's (The Ghost Drum) gripping time-travel adventure, a 1999 Carnegie Medal finalist, cleverly imagines a startling collision of 21st-century technology and 16th-century mores. A British corporation called FUP has built a time machine, planning to mine pre-industrialized land for gold and oil and eventually turn it into a resort. But the Sterkarms, one of the warring families inhabiting the Scottish and English border "16th side," won't cooperate; they keep robbing FUP survey teams. Tensions escalate when FUP's power-hungry boss, Windsor, kidnaps Per, the only son of a Sterkarm lord. Making matters even more complicated, Per and Andrea, an FUP employee sent back in time to live with the Sterkarms, have fallen in love. Both parties question her loyalty, and she faces the impossible task of choosing with whom to side. While Price builds the drama well, her story lags at certain points; adults should know there's some sexual banter. These caveats aside, Price does a masterly job of blending fact and fiction, straddling two time periods and rotating through several characters' points of view. Readers will be engrossed, unable to rest until they know how the author resolves the seemingly insoluble conflicts. Ages 12-up. (Oct.) Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc. From School Library Journal Grade 7 Up-This dazzling story combines time travel, romance, and action, along with thought-provoking ideas and memorable characters. In the near future, a British company called FUP has developed a time tube that leads back to the 16th century when the land was ruled by the primitive Sterkarm clan. FUP, headed by the villainous Mr. Windsor, plans to grab natural resources and artifacts from the past world, then eventually turn it into a profitable tourist spot. Andrea, an FUP employee, goes through the tube and lives among the clan, researching their ways. She gets caught up in their world and begins to question her "21st side" mores. Things get complicated when the Sterkarm leader's wounded son is brought through the tube for modern medical help. When he learns that he is being held hostage, he escapes back to his own time, temporarily disabling the tube, and the conflict between the two worlds escalates into a small war. The narrative shifts effortlessly among characters' viewpoints, as well as from one time period to the other. Sterkarm language and folklore are sprinkled throughout. Though all of the main characters are well developed, Andrea's conflicts are particularly involving. She appreciates many things about 16th side, and even falls in love with a Sterkarm warrior, but is also horrified at the ruthless violence that is such a part of that world. Her efforts to engineer a peaceful solution lead to some terrifically tough choices, few of which fully succeed. Though there are plenty of intense moments and serious implications, the brisk pace and immediacy of the narrative make this an equally excellent choice for adventure lovers.Steven Engelfried, Deschutes County Library, Bend, OR Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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