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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
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 book furthers Harry Turtledove's reputation as an historically knowledgeable and consistent writer. Read morePublished on May 16 2004 by James K. Donegan
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. Read morePublished on Nov. 2 2003 by William Semciw
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. Read morePublished on Aug. 24 2003
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... Read morePublished on April 27 2003 by Philip B. Yochim
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 morePublished on Sept. 28 2002
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
"Into the Darkness" starts with an awesome idea, and there are some points where it almost delivers on its initial promise. Read morePublished on July 20 2002 by not4prophet
with so many characters and countries it is difficult to keep track of what is going on throughout the book. Read morePublished on July 1 2002 by swiss1939