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Into the Darkness [Paperback]

Harry Turtledove
3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)

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Book Description

April 5 1999
One of an epic fantasy series from the author of "Worldwar". A duke's death leads to bloody war as King Algarve moves swiftly to reclaim the duchy lost during a previous conflict. But country after country is dragged into the war, as a hatred of difference escalates into rabid nationalism.

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Harry Turtledove is known for his alternate histories; from The Guns of the South to The Great War: American Front, he's practiced at imagining the ways society would have changed if various things had been different in history. Sometimes it's a key figure surviving (or dying); other times it's a strange new variable, like aliens landing during World War II. With Into the Darkness, Turtledove investigates a new wrinkle in this successful field: What if a world war were fought using magic?

Although Into the Darkness doesn't take place on Earth, the characters are humans, and they react in plausible ways. In fact, the uses of magic for political ends are eerily similar to the ways weapons have been used to wage cold wars in our own world. And as the magic grows more powerful, the destructive cost of war to the people of Derlavai grows as well. This is no enchanting fantasy world where kindly old wizards use their magic to kill dragons and save fair maidens. Turtledove has envisioned a place where the humans are decidedly political and greedy, and where magic is just a way of getting what you want. --Adam Fisher --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

War is hell and its chaos is a precarious foundation for supporting the sprawl of this epic fantasy. Paralleling the approach of his bestselling alternative histories, Turtledove (Guns of the South, the Worldwar series, etc.) imagines a civilization reminiscent of medieval Europe, save that sorcery is an accessible power harnessed for military use. In the land of Derlavai, armies tap the energy of ley lines for firepower, train dragons to drop incendiary eggs and commandeer leviathans for submarine warfare. Troubles begin when the armed forces of Algarve invade the kingdom of Forthweg to reclaim territories partitioned from them a generation before. Neighboring Unkerlant follows suit, occupying the remainder of Forthweg and competing with Algarve for control of the balkanized duchies drawn into the fray. Turtledove builds a panoramic narrative from the experiences of a cast of hundreds intended to represent a cross-section of Derlavian society, including inexperienced student Ealstan, sensible foreign minister Hajjaj, decadent marchioness Krasta, noble officer Rather, and Vanai, a descendant of the fallen Kaunian culture whose pervasive presence throughout Derlavai lends events an aura of fatalism. Cogently rendered scenes in which these and other characters display the extremes of cowardice and heroism induced by life during wartime give the novel a Tolstoyan sweep, yet never gel into anything resembling a cohesive plot. Dizzying shifts of viewpoint capture the convulsive character of combat but make allegiances hard to keep straight. Even the spectacular war scenes, described with frontline immediacy, become repetitive and generic. Like the casualties that crowd its pages, this novel sometimes seems a victim of overly complicated designs. Author tour.
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Turtledove at his consistent best May 16 2004
Format:Mass Market Paperback
This book furthers Harry Turtledove's reputation as an historically knowledgeable and consistent writer. Where his previous well known works have focused on alternate history, this novel takes a different spin on World War II by insinuating magic in place of technology. An engrossing and entertaining read with intersting characters and intrigue.
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5.0 out of 5 stars New best book Nov. 3 2003
Format:Mass Market Paperback
As the first of a siries i have to try to stress the inportance of this book. for staters i can't say this book is for light readers. Harry takes on the impresive chalange of switching the viwpoint character every 3 pages. beacuse of this character devolepment is limeted but you should not fear as the characters are further esxplained in latter books. the delervani war is parellel to ww2 but conufuseing. some countrys like germany and russia are simple but some like france are hard to point out. (P.S. i think forthweg is france but don't take my word for it.) the dramatic battles and relationships bettwen characters make this book a dramatic retelling of the second worldwar and the horor that came with it.
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1.0 out of 5 stars Wheel of Time meets WWII Aug. 24 2003
By A Customer
Format:Mass Market Paperback
I am sorry so many people liked this book. I wanted to like it, but after reading about 200 pages of mindless ramblings, I just had to stop. I think the book was a good idea, but the author tried to do toom much. Also, since he has apparently written about 100 sequels, reading the books will most likely take longer then world war upon which it bases itself. Maybe Harry Turledove is really Robert Jordan in Disguise.
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3.0 out of 5 stars WWII in a world of magic. June 23 2003
Format:Mass Market Paperback
As a general rule I Read the Amazon reviews starting with the lowest rating before making a purchase. Somehow I glean a lot more out of people advising me against reading a book. Into the Darkness had plenty 1 and 2 stars reviews but it had intrigued me so much I've decided to give it a shot anyway. I'm glad I did and I'll use this stage to answer some of the bad reviewers main points.
The main argument against this book and series was weak predictable characters with no development. Another common complaint was about the sheer number of them (about 15 viewpoint characters) which was confusing and didn't allow any of them to arise as a major character. I think anyone using this argument is missing the point entirely. This book focus is on EVENTS not on people. Turtledove is telling his version of imagined history. Read the rise and the fall of the third Reich (Shirer) or Stalingrad (Beevor) for comparison of historical text. Turtledove uses his characters eyes to describe events, for that matter he could have used a hundred different characters. The story would have been as good as his story telling is excellent. If you want character development during wartime read one of the masters (War and peace, Doctor Zhivago), this book style and pace is entirely different. Another point raised was that the similarity with the 2nd world war made it too predictable and boring. That is like saying that "every novel based on historical events is boring due to predetermined ending". A book doesn't have to be entirely fictional to be good. Another common complaint dismissed the feasibility of the magical and the social system. Hey guys, this is after all a Fantasy genre. I bet none of you said anything when Gandalf used his tricks.
So why only three stars?
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4.0 out of 5 stars The start of war April 27 2003
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Harry Turtledove's "Into the Darkness" begins the series of a world at war, almost identical to World War Two, except this war is fought with magic, where dragons and unicorns collide for supremacy.
Turtledove offers his usual blend of characters, from all walks of life, thrown together with circumstances beyond their own control. Initially, the large number of viewpoint characters is distracting and confusing, but the readers quickly adapt.
Some of the problems with the book are its parallels with what happened in the real world, and the reader tries to visualize what happens next. This is clear with the Algarvian/ German, Forthweg/ Poland, Underkant/ Russia analogies. However, you get no idea why the Kaunians are so hated, or the history of the world.
Also, some of the characters too closely resemble characters of other books. The Krasta/ Anne Colleton parallel were strong for me. And we still get too many of the redundant phrases and descriptions.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Fantasy and World War II April 24 2003
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Alternative history author Harry Turtledove turns his considerable powers of story-telling toward a fantasy world where magic allows people to have more "modern" type weapons (ie. - guns and bombs)and more complex national relations. In a story that roughly paralells the events of World War II, Turtledove's magical world is plunged into war after the death of a duke allows one of the major powers to take back land that was taken from them after the last war.
It is certainly entertaining trying to discern which of Turtledove's countries are meant to parrallel the acutal countries involved. Turtledove does a decent job of making the events of WWII work within a magical setting. As always, his storytelling is up to par.
Turtledove's story does suffer from too many characters. Each country involved is represented by a host of characters that soon leaves the reader bewildered and flipping back to the beginning of the book to see who is who. The number of characters portrayed as soldiers also bogs down the book with mulitple points of view on the same event. Turtledove also never offers any kind of explination behind the magic involved - he offers a partial explanation at some points but never enough to truly understand how these magical weapons work and more importantly how their scientific laws operate with each other (I have a feeling this is going to be more important in later books). Further Turtledove doesn't bother to discuss how an entire mobile armies are supplied with the magic they need to operate. While it is certainly interesting to see the events of WWII from a fantasy perspective, I was left with a so-what feeling?
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Most recent customer reviews
2.0 out of 5 stars Mediocre history and poor fantasy
"Into the Darkness" presents an intriguing concept. After a generation of peace, the world of Derlavai is on the brink of yet another global war. Read more
Published on Nov. 20 2002 by StalkingGhostBear
1.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely AWFUL!
Sorry Mr. Turtldove, but taking history of WW2 and replacing airplanes with dragons and guns with wands DOES NOT make a fantasy novel! Read more
Published on Nov. 8 2002 by Mark5576
5.0 out of 5 stars Very Intriguing...
This was an interesting and well-told story of WWII in a fantasy realm. Turtledove manages to make his main characters likable despite the vast number of them, and the limited time... Read more
Published on Sept. 28 2002 by "dragonhonor87"
3.0 out of 5 stars Needs a rewrite or two
It looks like most of my review got deleted somehow, so I'll try again:
"Into the Darkness" starts with an awesome idea, and there are some points where it almost delivers on... Read more
Published on Aug. 3 2002 by not4prophet
3.0 out of 5 stars Needs a rewrite or two
"Into the Darkness" starts with an awesome idea, and there are some points where it almost delivers on its initial promise. Read more
Published on July 20 2002 by not4prophet
2.0 out of 5 stars interesting but confusing
with so many characters and countries it is difficult to keep track of what is going on throughout the book. Read more
Published on July 2 2002 by swiss1939
2.0 out of 5 stars interesting but confusing
with so many characters and countries it is difficult to keep track of what is going on throughout the book. Read more
Published on July 2 2002 by swiss1939
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