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Warning: Signs of bloat ahead
on 18 August 2012
The fourth volume of Harry Turtledove's "The War That Came Early" series opens up at the start of 1941 onto a very different conflict. Britain and France have come to terms with Nazi Germany, and have even joined them in their ongoing war with the Soviet Union. The United States faces a series of setbacks against the Japanese, with whom they are at war after a series of sudden attacks throughout the Pacific. And the civil war in Spain drags on, a forgotten precursor to the conflict now raging. As the year unfolds, however, events begin to reorient the alignments. A military coup in Britain topples the government and rejoins te struggle against the Nazis, and with the French wobbling the prospect of a two-front war rears up as an unwelcome prospect for the Germans. But can they defeat the Soviets before that prospect becomes a reality?
Readers who have reached this point in the series already know what they will be getting in this latest installment, and those who have enjoyed following his cast of characters will find much to satisfy them here. Moreover, Turtledove continues to provide more in the way of the action than he did in his second volume West and East, which helps to keep things lively. Nevertheless, there is still a sense throughout this book of treading water, as much of the key events - both personal and political - seem to consist of undoing the developments of his last book, The Big Switch. Because of this, the whole series is starting to feel bloated, as Turtledove stretches out events that could (as he has demonstrated in previous series) have covered more dramatically in fewer volumes. Diehard fans of Turtledove's works may not mind, but for anyone seeking to follow up his earlier, better works they might find his latest alternate history series something of a disappointment.