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The Breath of God by Harry Turtledove
Review by Bill Lawhorn
Tor Books Hardcover  ISBN/ITEM#: 9780765317117
Date: 23 December 2008 List Price $24.95 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /

The cold wind of the North descends upon the Raumsdalian Empire. On the heels of this wind come the Rulers. The relentless and powerful enemy that came through the gap as the glaciers receded. With powerful magic and war mammoths, they seem unstoppable. They also show no mercy to their enemies.

Count Hamnet Thyssen and his companions have set themselves against the Rulers. Unfortunately, nobody else in the Empire or the nomadic Bizogot's sees the threat. As things come apart in the North, Hamnet and his allies are forced to go someplace no one else has thought possible. There they will find a new ally. One who just might help turn the tide. Hamnet and company return to the empire, just as the first skirmishes between the Empire and the Rulers start. Mistrusted by the emperor, Hamnet is given the chance to redeem himself, but only if his band can bring about the defeat of an unbelievably strong foe. Even while doing this, he must face his personal ghosts and relationship problems.

Set in a dawn of time world. The Breath of God mixes prehistoric settings and magic with ease. This series is different from standard Harry Turtledove. There is no well known historical setting behind the scenes. The series does follow logical outcomes and standard tropes. There are really "bad" bad guys, who seem to be too powerful that will eventually have to lose, just not in the second book of the series. The foundations are laid for their eventual downfall. The reluctant hero is troubled by his actions and the women in his life. Of course there is always a glimmer of hope, and that beacon is shined throughout.

There are hints of several other epochs in this series. The mammoths and ice age setting are reminiscent of Jean M. Auel. There is a bit of Conan in here as well as some of the works of Tracy Hickman and Margaret Weis. Don't expect a massive multiple point of view book. The focus remains on Hamnet.

Arrogant emperors and powerful enemies lead to a story that shouldn't be missed. But, be sure to read the first novel in the series, Beyond the Gap first. Readers need the background of the first novel to truly appreciate the second.

Anyone that reads my reviews knows I like Harry Turtledove's novels. So please remember that as I recommend reading this fiction. Author's need to get out of their own little worlds and Harry does that. Sure he writes a lot of books in his series. He counters that by writing prolifically. When you consider the number and length of the books that he publishes, if he isn't the most prolific author currently, he is a close second.

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