The Dirty Dozen, except there are only nine; and they serve imperial China, in space between Earth and Mars. The Mexica are depicted as wholly villainThe Dirty Dozen, except there are only nine; and they serve imperial China, in space between Earth and Mars. The Mexica are depicted as wholly villainous, while imperial China is honorable, mostly good and sometimes ruthlessly utilitarian.
Lots of soliloquies where the protagonists tell you their life story in two pages or less. The characters lack depth. I had trouble keeping track of the characters because there was so little to really distinguish them from each other beyond "that one is a gambler, that one is a prankster, that one is big and prone to violent outbursts, that was is a coward, that is a cowboy gunslinger, that one is pious"; did I make it to nine yet?
I like the setting, but don't care so much for what the writer does with it. I like the method of an alternate history in the past being projected into the future; but some clever ideas and historical research don't seem to make up for the rather pedestrian writing. The perspective of author's view shifted wildly the entire time, and characters presented knowing information they possibly couldn't know about the inner thinking or motivation of other characters. There often wasn't much transition between character perspectives at all, except a period....more
Even though this is the first book of his I've read, he seems like a formula writer. Some character asides, reflections, actions as well as some locatEven though this is the first book of his I've read, he seems like a formula writer. Some character asides, reflections, actions as well as some locations have little to do with the story besides proving to the reader that Turtledove has, in fact, studied the historical period of which he is presenting an alternative fictional story. In terms of the "twist" that changes history with this one, it's a rather big dues ex machina, rather than a small pivotal detail. The main characters are all male and things largely happen TO the female characters; who are continually appealing to men for help and advice (even if they are soldiers!), and acquiescing to male demands and opinions. The honor of some southern gentleman seems to exaggerated; particularly when it gets tested against real politik. It would have been interesting to have had a black protagonist. The least historical characters being the time travellers who provide the guns, are flat and uninteresting with little in the way of details to distinguish one Afrikaner from another. ...more