- Mass Market Paperback: 496 pages
- Publisher: Baen Books; Reprint edition (1 April 2004)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0743488202
- ISBN-13: 978-0743488204
- Product Dimensions: 17.3 x 10.8 x 2.7 cm
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,542,524 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Advance And Retreat (Baen Fantasy) Mass Market Paperback – 1 Apr 2004
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"Turtledove's storytelling and historiography now march in perfect step."
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta) (May include reviews from Early Reviewer Rewards Program)
This book and its predecessor are very good in the sense that any of Harry's full-length novels are a love it or hate it relationship. Either you love a historical perspective with a high degree of descriptive writing or you hate it. This being said I think this particular series of Mr. Turtledoves is turning out to be my least favorite of his many ongoing series. Maybe it is because it is a basic retelling of the American Civil War through the eyes of its Generals and in a few cases common soldiers. The Civil War has been rehashed perhaps more then any other time in alternative fiction and this time since Harry did not change the order of events there was little to surprise us. A little magic was thrown in and generals had last names like Heated Ham and other silly names. A good book but one without any true innovation. The South was the North in the book and the North the South. The swarthy invaders play the part of Caucasians in our world and "blonds" reprise the role of African slaves in our world.
An interesting book but one that does not quite measure up to his other works. What this book lacked is what Harry does so well. That is to take a chain of historical events and twist them and show us the outcome. This is more like reading a retired generals memoirs in our world and changing the names. I bought it and don't regret it and would gladly pay hardcover prices again but I look forward to his other works more.
This book is not alternative history. Advance and Retreat, the third book in the "Detina" series, is Altered History. Turtledove takes real US Civil War history, maps it into a new fantasy world, and retells the story with magic instead of technology and monarchy replacing democracy. In Detina, South is our North, East is our West, and both people and places have names that are excuses for punnery. Thus, the Cumbersome River (instead of Cumberland) or Summer Mountain (which is really Spring Hill). Some of the names are easy to figure out (Peachtree = Georgia), some require knowledge of Latin, Greek or Hebrew (Parthenia = Virginia, King Avram = Abraham Lincoln), some are cutesy (Peterpaulandia = Maryland), others are completely baffling (New Eborac = New York, Dothan = Alabama).
Turtledove does some things well in this book. The story is engaging, the battle scenes are riveting, and the characters are fascinating (for the most part). Even knowing how the events will turn out, since it corresponds with the US Civil War in 1865, I never lost interest. Even when Turtledove tells us sixty times that Doubting George isn't ready to invade, or Bell used to be a mighty warrior before he lost an arm and a leg, I kept going.
But some things are done poorly. Turtledove loved the punning more than keeping his world consistent, and many of the names simply rang false. Some walked out of Masterpiece Theatre, like Duke Edward of Arlington and Ned of the Forest, others arrived from mysterious lands with odd tongues (Generals Hesmucet and Peegeetee), yet no mention was ever made of this linguistic clash. At least in Turtledove's "Darkness" series, which is a similar fantasy remapping of World War II, each of the countries has consistant people and place names within their own borders.
While deciphering the puns and anagrams can be fun, they should not get in the way of the story. Yet the names do clash, a continual reminder that this novel is simply a retelling of a different land, far away. And one of the important parts of the story does not map correctly, for Turtledove has created swarthy "Detinans" from across the Western Ocean, who have defeated and enslaved native "blonds." More blonds remain, on on the other side of the Great River (Mississippi) -- ah, you see the problem! He's amalgamated Africans and Native Americans into one people! This off-note jars in an otherwise faithful (though upside-down) retelling of American history.
Recommended for Turtledove fans and Civil War buffs. Others take your chances.
This volume covers the period after the fall of Atlanta to Sherman through the destruction of the Army of Tennessee as an effective force. It portrays the generals on both sides as human beings with both strengths and weaknesses. While the characterizations are frequently based on the remaining documents of that period, nobody now or then knows for sure what went on in the privacy of these minds. Some traits are fairly well established from documentary evidence, but others are more like SWAGs. Read some of the many published histories and biographies covering this period and make your own guess.
Certain characters are treated more sympathetically in this novel -- i.e., George Thomas and Bedford Forrest -- than they were by their own professional peers; both displayed a competency that was not acknowledged by their ultimate commanders. On the other hand, Hood was totally belittled by his superiors, yet regained his reputation by blowing his own horn in his memoirs and speeches.
This novel is fun, but can be frustrating if you aren't a Civil War buff. Some of the punny names are really obscure. Nevertheless, I still wish Harry Turtledove would write nonfictional history books. Maybe a study guide for this series?
Recommended for Turtledove fans and all alternate history buffs who also like fantasy.
-Arthur W. Jordin
Author Harry Turtledove delivers alternate history using a variety of viewpoint characters including common soldiers, junior officers, and senior generals to deliver the shades of gray that every war involves. In ADVANCE AND RETREAT, even more than in the earlier novels in this series (SENTRY PEAK and MARCHING THROUGH PEACHTREE), this formula works. The reader is dragged into the battle, into the emotional entanglement between Captain Gremio and Sergeant Thisbe, the growth of blond Corporal Rollant, and even the laudanum-soaked Lieutenant General Bell.
The western front of the U.S. civil war can certainly claim to be the deciding theater, but it lacks the romance of Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson and is, therefore, less studied than the Virginia battlefields. Turtledove's fantasy retelling (reversing compass directions, making the disenfranchised group blond serfs rather than black slaves, with unicorns rather than cavalry and nobility rather than democratically elected leaders and renaming cities and battlefields (Nashville becomes Ramblertown--cute) brings this critical piece of history into a new light--and a light that allows the reader to strip away the emotional entanglements that still surround the U.S. Civil War and develop new emotional weight based on the power of Turtledove's writing.
This is the best Turtledove I've read in a long time.