The War That Came Early: West and East
by Harry Turtledove
Cover Artist: Carlos Beltran
Review by Bill Lawhorn
Del Rey Hardcover ISBN/ITEM#: 9780345491848
Date: 20 July 2010 List Price $27.00 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /
There is no lack of perspective. Fourteen distinct points of view are followed in the second entrant in The War That Came Early series. The POVís change often but clearly. The only hindrance with that many perspectives is the loss of depth of character. There are POVís from all of the major combatants and two Americanís.
The war has ground to a halt around the world. The surviving characters from the first volume of the series have returned for another round. Supplies are short all around, but events seem to be going against Nazi Germany on some fronts, but new routes will be opened. The Soviets have their own two front war to face, allowing the Japanese to have the upper hand in the East. In Spain, the revolution continues with no conclusion in sight. The Americans are still sleeping for the most part.
New tactics and technology are introduced as the war progresses. This is a normal occurrence in war, as effective materials are used to their best efforts and others are developed. As in many novels, the innovators are near to POV characters, or in some cases the POVís themselves. Although the major fronts are mostly stable, there are many new fronts being opened which allows characters to be moved around. Many of the actual WWII movements are repeated, a few with different outcomes.
Of the characters, the one I like the least is Peggy Druce. She is the one person that no country should ever allow to enter. Once she comes in, the Germanís are never far behind. I would prefer to see an American POV in North America to give the view of Americans at home instead of an expat that canít get home. I would even prefer throw away characters that show up and die to introduce a new conquest or front being opened up. On the other hand, Sarah Goldman gives the Jewish and regular German perspective and is well written.
The majority of the infantrymen are well written. Vaclav Jezek the Czech infantryman is the perspective I look forward to because of his brashness. His development into a new role is one of the highlights of this volume. His weapon opens up a whole new battlefront, but may lead to his ultimate end.
The Spanish Civil War POVs come into contact with each other and Chaimís new adventures may change the face of Spain after the war. Joaquin Delgadillo gives a peasant's perspective and his interactions with Chaim should lead to some interesting events in the future.
This is definitely a middle novel that spends most of the time setting things up for the next series of events. Plenty of action takes place, but not any major resolution. I enjoyed this novel and found it entertaining. It wasnít the novel of the year, but didnít try to be either. Fans of Turtledoveís prior alternate worlds will find plenty to like in this series. Fans of Robert Conroy may also want to take a look.