From School Library Journal
Grade 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
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Gr. 9-12. Jeapes departs from his usual high-tech, military sf to create an action-packed, low-tech sf-alternative history for the Civil War in the seventeenth-century England. Jeapes employs alien invaders, under the leadership of Dhon Do, to end the English Civil War. The incursion produces a predictable clash of cultures that results in improbable alliances: Charles II and Cromwell, and Dhon Do and his half-English son, Daniel, who sympathize with the conquered English. Jeapes' characterization is first-rate. Both historical and fictional characters are well realized, especially Dhon Do and Daniel, thoughtful men, clearly conflicted about their duties in a new world order--definitely not stock teen action-adventure heroes. The riveting story has enough twists and turns, battles and bloodshed to intrigue even hardcore sf fans, but readers will also get a painless lesson in English history. Give this to teens who have read Harry Turtledove's Guns of the South,
in which South Africans from the future alter the outcome of the U.S. Civil War. Chris ShermanCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved