Book Review: The United States of Atlantis by Harry Turtledove

This book has been out for a while, but I finally made it over to the library to check it out. After reading the last one(Opening Atlantis), I was a bit nervous about this series, so I haven’t wanted to make the commitment to it by buying the books just yet. I’m glad I made that decision.

I enjoyed most of the first book in this series, but I noted in my review that the last section was little more than a retelling of the French and Indian War in our own timeline. To me, this is lazy alternate history, if you can even call it alternate history at all; nothing has changed except the setting and the characters, after all. It’s straight fiction. If it was being sold as straight fiction, then it would be better; as it is, it’s not alternate history.

But I held out hope that the next book would be different. Then I saw the title, and began to dread reading the book. I checked it out of the library, though (as I did the first one), and settled in for a read.

I won’t be finishing this one. It is a fictionalized retelling of the American Revolution. It got to the point where I was writing down the parallels with our own timeline on a slip of paper I had with me. There’s the Ben Franklin character, the Sam Adams firebrand patriot character, and the George Washington “unwilling general” character. I’m not very far in, and I can already predict how it’s going to play out.

I love Turtledove’s books. I enjoyed Ruled Britannia. I enjoyed In the Presence of Mine Enemies. I enjoyed Guns of the South. But I’m not investing the time in another extended series that only proves that no matter what happens, the grand sweep of history really doesn’t change. An alternate history that isn’t alternate is not what I’m looking for, and I’m very disappointed in this offering from “The Master of Alternate History.”


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