- Audio Download
- Listening Length: 20 hours and 46 minutes
- Program Type: Audiobook
- Version: Unabridged
- Publisher: Macmillan Digital Audio
- Audible.co.uk Release Date: 29 Oct. 2012
- Language: English
- ASIN: B009YQ1V36
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank:
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Dominion Audiobook – Unabridged
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This is a Britain where the war was ended shortly after Dunkirk. Churchill leads a clandestine resistance movement against a puppet government that is a, well, dominion of the Third Reich.
Sansom's masterstroke is that his vision of 1950s Britain under Nazi dominion, is very much that of 1950s Britain. The Nazis have been boiling a frog with the British people, gradually increasing restrictions on British Jews, and controlling the media, but everyday life appears to have carried on much as it ever did. The novel comes in at the point where Germany is finally coming for Britain's Jews, with the European population all but wiped out, and amid much paranoia about atomic weapons.
Dominion is a slow burn of a read that gradually accelerates into a breakneck adventure in its final third, as the London Smog descends (what is it with alternate histories and freak weather? I was reminded of the closing chapters of William Gibson's steampunk bible The Difference Engine). Sansom brings together a well-drawn cast of solid characters, each with their own fears and secrets. And when each of their worlds is torn apart, the book becomes a frequently uncomfortable read. We're used to seeing Indiana Jones beat up those comedy Nazi soldiers, but Sansom gives his readers the odd glimpse of some really nasty Gestapo torture and ruthlessness, and those are sequences that will stay with me for a very long time.
Dominion is not an easy read, but it is a compelling, exciting, sometimes harrowing, but always effortlessly gripping one.
Germany has its own problems. Freed from fighting on the western front, it committed more resources to Russia, Stalin fell, but a murderous war continues deep in Asia. Meanwhile Hitler, suffering from Parkinson's is a remote and fragile figure, while the army and SS manoeuvre for position.
Within this alternate history, civil servant David has become a low level spy for the resistance, partially to escape the sadness of a lost child and a cooling marriage. He is thrown centre stage when a reclusive university friend is given a deadly secret by his brother working in America. The race is on to prevent the Nazis from learning that secret. However, David has a secret buried in his own past which may ruin him.
The book intertwines three stories. Whether David can and will save his marriage to Sarah. The struggle to keep the secret from the Germans, and the larger geopolitical machinations. These give it a very clear link to one of the themes of Sansom's Shardlake stories. The protaganists are swept up into their own deadly struggle, but against the bigger picture, their actions are inconsequential and have little impact on the ultimate outcome.
Just like the Shardlake novels, this book ends with an epilogue, and then with an authors view of his novel. In some ways the epilogue is the least satisfying part of the book, as Sansom allows his carefully lined up dominoes to fall over a little too easily. However, that is a minor grumble in what is a brilliantly imaged different world. I probably enjoyed this more than SS GB or Fatherland.
The author's note at the end is fascinating and a little sad. Written before the fateful referenda, Sansom is vitriolic about the rise of nationalism in Europe and has a real go at UKIP. However, as an Anglo-Scot, the real heat if his dark fire is aimed squarely at the SNP whom he sees, at best as having nothing to say or give beyond the nationalist agenda, at worst as proto-facist.
It is strange to read a book by CJ Sansom and not to find his traditional character Matthew Shardlake featuring. However as it is set almost 400 years in the future from Tudor England then perhaps it's not that surprising.
Sansom has written an alternative history. It is 1952 and Britain is indirectly controlled by Nazi Germany. Britain sued for peace following the evacuation from Dunkirk and whilst retaining its independence and Empire it is now in thrall to Hitler and the Third Reich. Beaverbrook is Prime Minister, Mosley is Home Secretary and the country is now an authoritarian state. Churchill is a wanted man as he leads the Resistance. Following Nazi pressure British Jews are now being rounded up.
David Fitzgerald is a Civil Servant trying to lead a normal life. However it is a double life as he also works for the Resistance. Not surprisingly he keeps that role a secret. He is contacted by a former friend from university who is seeking assistance. That friend has a secret and it is one that the Nazis are desperate to possess.
It falls to David and others within his resistance group to get his friend to safety. Pursued by a dogmatic Gestapo officer and a careerist British Special Branch Officer they face the full wrath of the state. Families, friends and strangers are sacrificed in the name of the greater good.
Sansom paints a bleak portrait of a period in history best recalled for its actual austerity. He highlights the drabness of an existence that in many ways contributes to a revolt from people of all classes. He highlights what could in all honesty have come to past and as such makes this a really compelling read.
Most recent customer reviews
It reminded me a lot of Frederick Forsyth. A lot if build up and then a short action piece.Read more