James Kemp's Reviews > Dominion

Dominion by C.J. Sansom
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really liked it
bookshelves: fantasy, espionage, fiction, german, history, home-front, owned, ww2

I was recommended Dominion by a couple of friends after my review of the TV version of SS-GB. Dominion is a huge tome, it's 700 pages long, and my first thought was that it probably needed some more editing. However I found it an easy and compelling read. Sansom's style is more descriptive than others I've read, but the extra detail adds to the flavour of the story.

Dominion takes a far more believable point of departure for its alternate history than SS-GB does. In Dominion Lord Halifax takes over from Neville Chamberlain as Prime Minister on 10 May 1940. Without Churchill the UK also makes peace with Germany in 1940. By the time Dominion is set in 1952 we have a much different Britain, it was never bombed and there is no rationing. Yet we've slid into being an authoritarian state with a fascist as Home Secretary in a coalition government. Rigged elections have driven Churchill, Attlee and Bevan underground.

There are several intertwined threads in the story, which gradually come together into the final scene in the book. They're woven skillfully together in a manner that still leaves room for some surprises when each of the joins come.

I particularly liked the way the key antagonist is written, it would have been so easy to have made him a stereotype bully boy Gestapo thug. Instead he's a frail human, lost and alone with his twin brother dead on the Russian steppe and his wife left him and taken their son away. Inspector Hoth uses his intelligence and cunning to catch Jews and ship them off, before coming to the UK to try and catch our protagonists. He's way more sympathetic than the British Special Branch sidekick he picks up, which makes him all the scarier.

The central characters are pre-war university friends thrown together by circumstances. Two are civil servants and spying for the Resistance. The third is a scientist working at Birmingham University with a brother working for the US Government who gets sectioned after an argument with his brother.

The main characters are all different, yet well observed to feel very real. They have more than one dimension to them. More than stereotypes.

If you are a fan of alternative history this is definitely a must read. There's a stack of research underpinning the book, and I didn't spot anything that felt wrong to me.
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Reading Progress

April 6, 2017 – Started Reading
April 6, 2017 – Shelved
April 6, 2017 – Shelved as: fantasy
April 6, 2017 – Shelved as: espionage
April 6, 2017 – Shelved as: fiction
April 6, 2017 – Shelved as: german
April 6, 2017 – Shelved as: history
April 6, 2017 – Shelved as: home-front
April 6, 2017 – Shelved as: owned
April 6, 2017 – Shelved as: ww2
April 11, 2017 – Finished Reading

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