Review of “After the Downfall” by Harry Turtledove

AfterTheDownfallAfter the Downfall is a strange book. Focusing on Hasso Pemsel, a German soldier from the Second World War, at the start of the book we’re introduced to some typical Nazi views. The character is bigoted against Jewish people, Russians, and pretty much anyone who isn’t an Ubermensch.

Which meant I had to go and double check to make sure I wasn’t reading a pro-Nazi book. Thankfully, reviews cleared up that the main character does change his views.

Hasso is transported from Berlin, at the end of the Second World War, to a fantasy world where tall, blonde people called Lenello are busy trying to enslave a race of short, swarthy people called Grenye. They’ve conquered the vast majority of the Grenye’s continent, but a single country are holding out.

The Lenello are approximately medieval in terms of technology, where the Grenye are closer to the Iron Age. However, the Grenye have been trying to learn medieval technologies, they just haven’t quite managed it yet.

Hasso then has the potential knowledge to swing the war either way. If he helps the Lenello, he can defeat the Grenye forever. If he helps the Grenye, he might be able to fight off the Lenello and ensure their freedom. It’s not a million miles from Dances With Wolves meets A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court (One of my favourite books).

The book was written in a very fluid, easy to read style. In terms of story-telling, the only thing that kept stopping me was the repetition of analogies. Hasso constantly compared the war between the Lenello and the Grenye to his own war between Germany and Russia. It had to have come up thirty or more times. Each time, it’s presented as if it’s the first time Hasso has thought of it. Which got very annoying.

That said, the rest of the book was engaging and well written. The characters were all believable for the most part. Hasso isn’t the smartest person, unlike Sir Boss in Connecticut Yankee. He doesn’t have all the answers, just a few things he can think of that might help.

As a big fan of this genre of time travel books, I very much enjoyed it. Overall I give After the Downfall 4/5 stars (5/5 on Amazon). The only problem I had with the book was the repetitive analogies. I’ll be looking up more Harry Turtledove books.


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