In Jeapes's (The Ark) inventive, dense alternate history, the English Civil War of the 17th century comes to a close due to the intervention of a third party-the alien Holekhor race who arrive to claim the embattled country for their own. Dhon Do, who has walked among humans under the name John Donder, arrives from the "Old World," an alternate plane connected to the world of humans by one or more gates. As leader of the Golekh troops, he offers Oliver Cromwell, champion of the Parliamentarian forces, a chance to surrender before more Golekhi "come and keep coming... until the people of this island are extinct or driven into the sea." The Holekhor troops not only possess automatic weapons, but they arrive in airships, making them seem unstoppable. But Cromwell has Khonol Le, a female Holekhor with weapon-making skills, on his side-thanks in part to her hatred of Dhon Do. Donder (aka Dhon Do), for his part, must also come to terms with the half human/half Holekhor son he sired nearly 13 years ago, who suddenly figures prominently into the battle. The plot grows more complex from there, and the narrative may appeal most to history and military buffs (although a postscript helps to orient those less familiar with the events). Despite a rather frothy happy ending that seems out of step with the rest of the book, overall, Jeapes's novel is an admirable achievement on a technical and imaginative level. Ages 12-up. (Apr.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
To quote the review of the hardcover in KLIATT, March 2005: This is a lengthy, challenging fantasy first published in England. It takes place during the civil war in England, which was a complicated struggle between Cromwell, the parliament, and the crown. If you look closely at the cover, you see a young man dressed in 17th-century garb, holding a dagger in one hand and a pistol that looks modern in the other hand. Yes, indeed, a civilization that possesses modern weapons has entered through a time gate and these foreign people, the Holekhor, are attempting to influence events in England and seize power. They accomplish this mission, for a time, but even among themselves there is intrigue and betrayal. The religious intolerance that had caused the bitter civil war in England is mirrored by religious intolerance among the Holekhor themselvesdifferent issues, of course, but at the heart of both struggles is intolerance. Any reader can see how this is a universal theme that all societies face, unfortunately relevant to our present world crisis. There is a terrific cast of characters, which makes the political, religious, and actual battles that much more interesting. A young man, Daniel, and his father, John Donder, are the main heroes, trying to create understanding between the two cultures. The plot is far too complex to summarize here, and obviously, students in England who know their own country's history will find the story even more satisfying. That doesn't exclude American readers, however, especially those who like to be challenged. Ben Jeapes is a fine writer who doesn't "write down" for young people.
Gr 7 Up-This historical science-fiction novel opens on a May afternoon in 1645. The bloody civil war between King Charles I and Parliament is wreaking havoc on England. John Donder, a war-weary general traveling incognito, returns to the village where he was fostered as a young man and where he unknowingly left behind a son. The pair quickly become allies in a political landscape of warring armies, guerilla warfare, and dubious alliances. The stakes, of course, are nothing less than history as we know it. The two befriend Charles I and his son and ultimately make common cause with Oliver Cromwell, for John Donder is neither Loyalist nor Parliamentarian. His true identity is Holekhor and he has come from a parallel universe that enjoys technological advances not yet known in the 17th century. He heads an alien invasion that will make Britain a tribute colony subject to exploitation by the greedy Holekhor overlord. This colonizer/colonized reversal is the central conceit of the book and its most intriguing feature; John Donder and his son, with their divided loyalties, sit uncomfortably at the crux of it. The rest-invaders with machine guns and dirigiblelike warships, train derailments, mastodons outfitted for war, betrayal in high places, and the awful stench of battle-have all been seen before. Enjoyment of the alternative-history elements requires some prior knowledge of the period. This fast-paced adventure will appeal to action-oriented readers who may skip over the Royalist/Roundhead intrigue to get to the big explosion that conveniently cuts England-and John Donder and his son-free of Holekhor rule.-Carolyn Lehman, Humboldt State University, Arcata, CA Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Politics, religion, and conflicting loyalties drive this complex, ingeniously imagined alternate history. The 17th-century English Civil War takes a decidedly different course after a portal to another Earth opens, and invading troops armed with late-19th-century weapons march out. But that army's general Dhon Do is actually returning to England, having been stranded there years before-long enough to convert to Christianity, fall in love (and, as he discovers to his delight, father a child), and to develop a deep regard for the country and its people. Though the cast, which includes the wily, heroic Oliver Cromwell, tempestuous but intelligent Charles II, and other historical figures, may be unfamiliar to American readers, Jeapes makes them vivid, convincing characters, and embeds them within a compelling account of Dhon Do's efforts to conquer and hold a large part of his adopted land with minimum loss of life. The author also adds rich subplots, folds in enough fictive and historical backstory to give every major player here genuine presence, and springs several satisfying surprises toward the end. An outstanding, thought-provoking page-turner. (Fantasy. 12-15)