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From Barnes & NobleThe Barnes & Noble Review
The War to End All Wars
Harry Turtledove, the unparalleled master of the alternate-history science fiction/fantasy novel, gives his legions of fans the first in yet another captivating series dealing with world war. Into the Darkness presents the reader with several engaging, historically familiar elements that are soon cultivated in the depths of Turtledove's imagination. Here we have numerous political complexities, hundreds of characters, and a tense milieu that quickly grows even tauter, until a dozen countries lie on the brink of planetary annihilation. Author of bestsellers like How Few Remain, The Guns of the South, and Colonization: Second Contact , Turtledove proceeds to draw his readers into worlds of neverwhen as his narrative voice continues to sharpen and his skill at weaving a highly innovative but authentic tapestry develops even further.
When the Duke of Bari dies without an heir, the neighboring kingdom of Algarve attempts to reclaim Bari as its own. The people of Algarve still fume over their bitter defeat in the Six Years War, when Bari broke free as an independent country. However, the political intricacies of the realm are plentiful and precarious, with many treaties between nations already forcing allies into two camps: those who will defend Bari and war with Algarve, and those who will fight alongside Algarve in the coming conflicts. In this world, magic works, and squadrons of "stupid and vicious" dragons drop bomb-like eggs and breathe flames across the countryside. Using "ley-lines" of inherent natural earth magic to empowerthemselves, troops deploy and attack on land and sea, and in the air. Deep-sea beasts attack ships, while infantrymen battle one another with magical sticks of energy. No one is untouched by the unfolding events, as soldiers, noblewomen, and children are pulled into the ever-widening repercussions and consequences of the worldwide battles. As the war rages on, the lights of the land begin to flicker out one by one, perhaps not to be seen again for generations to come.
Unlike Turtledove's Civil War alternate history novels and his World War series, Into the Darkness doesn't use real historical figures to propel the story line. The author is content with taking some similarities to the events of World War I and imposing them upon a magical realm where humanity is marred by the same foibles, greed, flawed characters, and propensity for violence as is our own. Turtledove piles skirmishes and incidents one upon the other, threading them together to weave a gripping and powerful tale of intrigue which is fantastical but has underpinnings of realistic politics. The huge cast calls for a Dramatis Personae listing at the front of the book, as viewpoints switch rapidly from person to person, country to country, peasant to soldier, scholar to student to nobleman. An especially positive note for Turtledove's fans is that with his penning of a World War I fantasy, readers can expect to find the groundwork for a World War II fantasy series already there. Into the Darkness is a powerful foundation for future stories of a darkening world that must put away its painful past and find peace before it can rediscover its own lost light.
-- Tom Piccirilli