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80 of 85 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Provocative
This is a "what might have been" novel - what might have happened had Churchill not gained power at a critical moment and the government continued a policy of appeasement. It is set in 1952, 12 years after a treaty is made with Germany. In the intervening years Britain has become an authoritarian state which increasingly collaborates with the German Nazi government. There...
Published 18 months ago by Bron

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Dull, predictable, stereotypical and slow
This is the first C. J. Sansom book I've read so I can't compare this to his other books. Although well researched the book falls down on so many levels. The main character David Fitzgerald is dull beyond belief. I couldn't of cared less what happened to him. In fact I found myself hoping he would be tortured by the Nazis. The story never gives you any surprises, twists...
Published 19 months ago by JP Review


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80 of 85 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Provocative, 3 Feb 2013
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This review is from: Dominion (Kindle Edition)
This is a "what might have been" novel - what might have happened had Churchill not gained power at a critical moment and the government continued a policy of appeasement. It is set in 1952, 12 years after a treaty is made with Germany. In the intervening years Britain has become an authoritarian state which increasingly collaborates with the German Nazi government. There has also been a growing British Resistance under Churchill. The main characters are highlighted against this backdrop as they become part of a web to prevent critical information from falling into the hands of the Germans.

This is not a Shardlake novel, don't start reading it thinking it is going to be an exquisitely crafted Tudor murder mystery. This is an equally well crafted but thought provoking book which requires the reader to imagine an alternative history for Britain and it is Sansom's alternative history, not the reader's. From the many divided reviews about this book one can see that Sansom's ideas about how history might have panned out are not to everybody's taste. Sansom has placed real historical figures into his revised landscape and readers are going to have widely differing opinions as to whether these characters should occupy these places and propound the ideologies that are given to them in this alternate history.

But if you can abandon yourself to Sansom's alternate history you can find a provocative read that is steeped in the gloom and desperation of his revised landscape just like the Great Smog of 1952 which looms evocatively in the plot. The characters are flawed and real, fanatics and pacifists, they grow and shrink as they are buffeted by the events. It makes for a real and desperate world which you leave at the end of the book with a sigh of relief that it is only what might have been and not what did happen.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Dull, predictable, stereotypical and slow, 14 Jan 2013
This review is from: Dominion (Hardcover)
This is the first C. J. Sansom book I've read so I can't compare this to his other books. Although well researched the book falls down on so many levels. The main character David Fitzgerald is dull beyond belief. I couldn't of cared less what happened to him. In fact I found myself hoping he would be tortured by the Nazis. The story never gives you any surprises, twists or any rewards. It just cruises forward in a boring, predictable manner. Every time the story builds up momentum it gives you another flashback story, which, although relevant to the rest of the plot, slows down the pace. Although well researched the story and characters are flimsy and stereotypical. I find it surprising that someone could research a subject so thoroughly and then lazily borrow characters from 'Allo 'Allo (UK reference).

On a positive note, the book does give a believable alternative history which is why I have awarded it 2 stars. It doesn't get any points for storytelling, character building or 'mise en scene'.
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297 of 331 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Slightly Disappointing, 30 Oct 2012
By 
C. E. Utley "Charles Utley" (London, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Dominion (Kindle Edition)
I am a great admirer of Sansom's Shardlake novels. He has a thorough understanding of Tudor England and his stories set in that era are wonderful to read. This novel is a considerable change for him.

The story, what he calls an "alternate history", is set in 1952 (the year of his birth and - as it happens - mine). Britain had negotiated a peace treaty with Hitler in 1940. The war in the west ended then, though it lumbered on in the east. By 1952 Russia and Germany are still at war. But Britain is run by a pro-treaty government which has outlawed the opposition. Germany is Britain's closest ally. The government has become more and more authoritarian. At the time the story is set, all British Jews are being rounded up with the aim of sending them to eastern Europe to be gassed. Churchill, the leader of the resistance, is a wanted man, running from large country house to large country house to escape the Special Branch. The British police willingly give their assistance to the SS. British subjects are routinely taken to the basement of the German embassy to be tortured.

Against that background we meet the story's main characters. Frank Muncaster is a slightly unhinged geologist whose brother, a scientist working in America on secret weapons, blurts out something to Frank about the work he is doing in America. Frank is horrified. He pushes his brother through a window and, as a result, is dragged off to a lunatic asylum. David Fitzgerald is Frank's only real friend from university days. He is a civil servant. He has worked for the resistance for a couple of years, copying secret documents. When his relationship with Frank is discovered the resistance enlists his help in getting Frank out of the asylum before the Germans get hold of him. The adventure is on its way. I will not ruin the story by saying what then happens.

The story itself is gripping enough (although it is not easy to accept the theory that Frank's brother was really able to say anything of such gigantic use to the Germans in the few minutes which preceded the assault). But we can happily overlook that weakness as we tensely turn the many hundreds of pages to find out what happens next. I regret the lack of humour in the book, but that now seems to be the mark of the modern thriller and I certainly don't want to give the impression that this is not a gripping read.

What I did, I confess, find rather disagreeable was Sansom's decision to portray certain real politicians as being positively evil. I can see that he doesn't like newspaper magnates and I suppose I can just about forgive him for casting Beaverbrook as his pro-treaty Prime Minister (though it hardly rings true to anyone who knows about Beaverbrook's work as a minister throughout the war - particularly his conviction that the allies had to do all they could to assist Russia). But choosing to make Enoch Powell a pro-treaty cabinet minister can't really be forgiven. Sansom reveals, in a biographical note at the end of the book, that he is on the left in politics. but that does not excuse ignorance. I wonder what Tony Benn, a great friend of Powell's, would make of Sansom's decision to portray Powell as an ally of Nazis.

Powell was Professor of Greek at Sydney University when war was declared. He immediately resigned and returned to England to enlist in the army as a private. He finished the war as a brigadier (one of the youngest ever and one of only two people to rise from private to brigadier during the war). In the 1945 election, despite being a natural Tory, he voted Labour. He did so because he still could not forgive the Conservatives for Munich. Famously, when asked what he most regretted in his life, he said that he wished he had been killed in the war. How on earth Sansom could imagine such a man as a Nazi sympathiser is quite beyond me. True, and this seems to be Sansom's point, Powell was an enormous admirer of the Indian Empire. It was the threat to that empire which brought him into politics after the war, though by the time he had become an MP in 1950 that battle had been lost and he became convinced that there was no longer any place for British imperialism. No, making Powell a Nazi villain, presumably just because he is dead and can't sue, was a major fault in this novel. And there are other dead politicians treated in the same way (both Labour and Conservative - not to mention the entire Scottish Nationalist Party). I won't make this lengthy review even longer by going through them all as well. All I will say is this part of the novel is both weak and disagreeable.

I don't want to put people off reading this rather good and well-written yarn, but a health warning is needed for anyone who has any knowledge of the 1939 to 1953 period of British history.

Charles
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Too long, 6 May 2014
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This review is from: Dominion (Paperback)
An alternate outcome of WW2 seemed a fascinating premise for a story. The initial two-thirds of the book were passable. What kept me going was the expectation that the plot would have to ramp up a couple of gears at some point. However, it soon became evident that all I was going to get was more of the same. I skim read the final 100 pages as the repetition and boring prose got too much. Might try Fatherland instead.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another fantastic book from CJ Sansom, 18 Mar 2013
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Dominion is another great book from CJ Sansom. Good to see him depart from his Shardlake series but still keeping up the intrigue.
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24 of 28 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Good premise - poor execution, 5 Jan 2013
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This was a bit of a let down. Alternative historical perspective is reasonably good. I think Beaverbrook did have delusions of grandeur sufficient to want to be PM. I am not quite sure Churchill would have been much value as an underground resistance leader but not completely implausible.

However what lets the book down are the crass characterisation and the weak central concept of an important secret which is neither important enough to set off the manhunt or really very secret. As an example of the repetitive characterisation Frank is continuously introduced by reference to his rictus grin. It's the Enid Blyton approach to writing about people.

Also could have done with some more judicious editing probably 30 or 40 pages too long. The Kindle edition doesn't know whether to spell Beaverbrook as Beaver brook or even Beaver-brook.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing waste of time, 29 Dec 2013
By 
turkle (cape town, south africa) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Dominion (Paperback)
Others have done a good job of summarising the plot, so I'll just cut straight to the warning - if you're a Shardlake fan or have yet to read Sansom's work, give this a miss. One dimensional, cardboard cut-out characters are shunted around a lame, ultimately pointless plot. This reads like a second draft - repetitive, full of errors and really awful, clumsy writing. Episodes and chapters are linked via the worst kind of 'meanwhile, back at the ranch' type of progression that just underscores the inane repetition that makes this book such a lousy read.

If you like 'square, rectangular buildings', largely stereotypical characters who are named before they're introduced, contradictory plot developments within a page of each other and repetitive, hackneyed descriptions of things like what the characters are wearing (how many times do we really need to hear that David's wearing a bowler hat and pinstriped trousers?)you may well enjoy this book. I'm just cursing myself for wasting time finishing Dominion in the hope that it would at least deliver some kind of denouement that would make it all worth while. It didn't.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars I;ve lost the will to read...., 6 Jan 2013
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I feel I've been reading this for weeks, in fact its probably only about two, but I'm still only at 50%.
I'm just losing the will to continue and as much as I hate to leave a book unfinished I'm afraid that this will be deleted.
The story seems to wander aimlessly jumping back and forward in time. This I think is part of the problem, because the book interested me because it was an alternate history of the Second World War BUT there was too much about the characters childhood. Just not interested about their school days. Remove this and the book wouldn't have been so long and I might have stuck with it.
Oh well.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars huge faults with the plot ruin this book and I regret the hours wasted reading it, 1 Nov 2013
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This review is from: Dominion (Hardcover)
As an avid reader of alternative history I had to get this book. The set-up is plausible enough that the scenario is involving and chilling, but the characters I really couldn't care less about. We are quickly convinced of a Britain that has settled with Nazi Germany, sunk into Depression as Germany battles Russia year after year, and the British Empire, that Hitler has allowed us to keep, revolts. Characters are vividly drawn but despite that I found myself unsympathetic too the characters and they - uninviting of my interest. The main characters all have solid back-stories - too detailed really - it fills much space but much of the biographical detail is irrelevant to the plot. The Germans and Nazis are not drawn as two dimensional bad guys and you get the sense in which events can move even noble people to inhumane actions.It is an easy yet fairly well written read, similar but not as good as Robert Harris; the words do not get in the way of the story, but there are too many words.

It would have been better if there had been less "tell" and more "show". We are left in no doubt from the start of the wider context, and it would have been more enjoyable to discover as we went along what sort of world this was, finding out from hints and descriptions the history behind this world and what was happening outside Britain. I exaggerate, but there is quite a lot of writing of the type - "What do you think of that report in the papers today about the strikers being armed by the Resistance , and the revolts in the Colonies, and America inventing the nuclear bomb?". "Oh yes, I hear there are strikers who have been found with guns. I wonder where they got them? Perhaps from the Resistance, who daub Vs and Rs on the walls of London you know. And it doesnt help that there are revolts in the colonies, and maybe America is developing an atomic bomb, whatever that is , by which I mean America that never entered the war because Pearl Harbour never happened....".Or "Himmler might be taking over from Hitler, the dictatorial leader of Germany, a country in Europe that was very nasty and the cause of the Second World War". Subtle writing this is not.

And there is a lot of duplication, triplication even, of information - two or three different groups of characters discussing the same thing - eg the fate of the Jews, slowing things down and extending an overly long book. Little is hinted at or mysterious - its all emphasised again and again.I grabbed a pen and started scrawling on the pages "Yes, we know that - this is the third time you have told us!" When a book makes you that annoyed, it has problems.

The political figures of the time seem to be accurately researched. They are all dead now and cannot sue. I thought the portrayal of Enoch Powell gratuitous and unfair - I doubt that he would have aquiesced to such a collaborationtist rule of Britain. Right wing, racist even, he may have been, but he was undoubtedly a patriot, defender of justice, and fought the Nazis.

As others have mentioned, a big fault is the rather unsurprising and trivial nature of the "secret" - which , unlike other reviewers (thank you so very much for your selfish lack of spoiler warnings you numptys), I will not disclose - that is so central to the plot. That Frank would go nuts on hearing it seems highly unlikely. In fact, that he would have been declared insane just for shouting and smashing things up seems daft too. Many other things dont ring true - running spikes for cross country ? I dont think so. But there are bigger faults . . .

And SPOILER ALERT FOR THIS PARAGRAPH ONLY How did the police/Germans know that the 3 resistance members had visited Frank in the asylum? - they, after all, left before the trio did. Big plot hole there.The most unlikely thing of all is that the Resistance just didnt bump Frank off - they knew he had some secret the Germans wanted to get hold of - why go to all the trouble of getting him out of the country? Particularly as he dies anyway, that four or five resistance fighter die trying to save him, and that whether he lived or died would - according to the book itself! - made no difference to the ultimate outcome in Europe! Implausibility heaped on implausibility.Then there is the ending - the Germans can only spare 6 men to capture someone they suspect holds the secret that can collapse the 3rd Reich? And, earlier, they suspect a resistance fighter but do not get to his home quicker than he does from the same place. They interview his wife and want to keep an eye on her house but turn up much later than she gets home, and even then do not keep an eye on the back of the property. And the resistance movement would take three minor resistance figures at great risk to one of their main bases, knowing that the three might well be later captured and tortured, disclosing its whereabouts?

It's difficult, granted, to come up with plausible plots, but if you are an author and publish a book, surely it is your job to get these things right. Did not the copy editor spot these errors? I feel rather insulted that I am supposed to gloss over these crass inconsistencies.

The authors notes at the end are of interest, but his rant against nationalism is vague and half-cock - what is nationalism exactly, what does he want to replace it with - tribalism, the EU, world-wide government?

I enjoyed the speculation about life in Britain had we given in in 1940 and the political situation that might have ensued world-wide, but this book is overwritten and full of holes. I regret the hours wasted reading it.
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17 of 20 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Far from his best, 4 Jan 2013
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Love his Shardlake novels but this really isn't anywhere near the same standard.

It has two major weaknesses: first, it has a political agenda that gets in the way of the story and also results in it being overlong; second, the story hangs by a thread that really isn't strong enough to take the weight of the narrative; the 'secret' that the older Muncaster passes on to his brother and that drives the subsequent action is so slight that, when revealed, it left me with an acute sense of being let down.

Not a disaster but a disappointment - and when your form is as strong as Sansom's, that simply makes one all the more aware of the difference.
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Dominion by C. J. Sansom (Paperback - 12 Sep 2013)
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