Well, it was worth the wait. Four years after The Afrika Reich, we get a sequel - and what a sequel! While TAR was a fine book, The Madagaskar Plan is its superior in almost every way. The characters are deeper, more faceted, particularly the antagonist, Hochburg; we see so much through his eyes that he almost becomes likeable. The other characters are also interesting, with a lot of conflict and distrust even between allies making for a tense read. The action scenes are great; very cinematic and visual, with lots of destruction. It's easy to see this being made into a film. I don't want to give away any spoilers, so I won't spoil the details, but suffice to say that the action is fast and furious. Special mention must go to the integration of plot and setting, too. Far too often in alternate history books we get a cool concept married with a limp, predictable plot and cardboard characters. Not here. The Nazis' African domain is well-realised and fascinating, with some things only hinted at (what happened to the black population? Book 3 has the answers, apparently). I liked the scenes in the German holiday resort in Roschershafen/Dar Es Salaam, based on the actual Nazi beach resort at Prora in the Baltic. Details like this really add to the book, giving us a fully-fleshed out world for the action to occur. Most of the book is set in Madagaskar, which is based on the Jewish ghettos of WWII, but transplanted to the tropics. It's not a good change for the Jews. The details of life in Madagaskar, again, are based on life in the ghettos, including the uprisings, Jewish collaboration with the authorities, and the difficulties of daily existence. The result is a convincing backdrop for the action. Overall, I can't really think of any serious flaws with the Madgaskar Plan. It's a superb read in the best thriller tradition, drawing on a whole host of classics for inspiration - The Man in the High Castle, The Wild Geese, Where Eagles Dare...if you enjoy any of these, you'll almost certainly love the Maagaskar Plan. I know I did. Roll on Book 3!
I don't normally read alternate history books, or know much about WWII or the surrounding politics, yet none of that mattered. I was gripped, and devoured the book in just a weekend, a tissue in one hand and a stress-ball in the other.
The story doesn't, and can't, shy away from the horrors of the grandiose Nazi plans, but the way it's entwined with such emotional tenderness is what makes this novel stand out. There's so much depth to the characters' own stories, I couldn't help but be behind each and every one of them (even the characters for whom I know I shouldn't find empathy). I cared for them; ached with them. Felt, somehow, as if I knew them.
And those chapter-endings - wow! Impossible to say 'I'll just read to the end of this chapter ...'. Be prepared to keep reading. And reading!
The writing is achingly raw. The story, expertly crafted. It's an absolute epic tale of love and revenge in a world that nearly was. A world that I can't seem to shake off and doubt I will for a very long time.
I really enjoyed this sequel to The Afrika Reich. It was well worth the wait! The love story takes centre stage amidst the thrills, spills, blood, guts and gore - all as uncompromising as ever - and it is all the better for it. In AR I fell in love with Neliah. Here, I totally fell head over heels with Madeleine who makes a fleeting appearance in AR but comes into her own in The Madagaskar Plan. She is another amazing heroine - flawed, brave and complex! I was rooting for her and Burton all the way. But they are surrounded by such evil and pessimism that the course of true love never did run smooth - and Lord Almighty do things go extremely awry for these two! Great stuff!
Great alternative history. I had heard of the Nazis plan to send the Jews to Madagascar before but this book brings it to life. Interesting characters in an alternative Europe and Africa. Looking forward to the third part.
I'm a massive fan of Guy's work. His first book in this series was awesome and this follow up doesn't drop the pace and excitement for one minute. If you like alternative history then you'll really enjoy this. Excellent plot and great characters.
A worthy successor to The Africa Reich, but don't expect a happy ending !!! Guy Saville has, cleverly, left this open for a third sequel which I hope he produces soon as I'm hooked on the characters both good and bad.
A few days ago Guy Saville pointed out on Facebook that the paperback of The Madagaskar Plan was coming out today. I’ve had both this and The Afrika Reich sitting in my ‘to-be-read’ pile for some time. I ummed and ahhed over whether it would be wise to start book 2 before I’ve read book 1, but heck with it… I did.
Interestingly, there is enough background, and there are enough illuminating flashbacks in this book that it does not seem to rely entirely upon the first to be readable. Not that I’d heartily recommend starting with book 2, because now that I’ve done it, I have to go back and read book 1 to see what I missed.
Firstly, what is The Afrika Reich trilogy and this book in particular? Well, it’s almost Historical Fiction. It’s a ‘what if’ scenario. The premise behind the series is that the Dunkirk evacuations failed, Churchill resigned over the failure and consequently the succeeding British government came to peaceful terms with the Nazis. By the early 50s, when the book is set, Britain still has its Imperial holdings, Germany has overrun Russia and controls roughly half of all African territory, and the United States is out of it as a neutral nation. Africa is divided between Britain and Germany, with a few smaller states belonging to Italy, Portugal etc, and a neutral South Africa.
Madagaskar is the greatest imaginable prison camp for deported Jews. Europe having been largely emptied of them, there are 5 million living on the island under SS rule, being gradually worked to death.
Burton Cole, a survivor or earlier clashes in Africa and clearly the hero of the first book, returns to Britain to find his lover – a former Austrian Jew – has been found out by her cuckold husband and deported to Madagaskar. He thence rushes off to find her. Meanwhile, his former nemesis, Hochberg, the governor of German Kongo, has his own reasons building to head to the island in the hope of achieving German domination of the continent. And his deputy, now in exile. And a Jewish partisan. And others.
Incredibly skillfully, Saville weaves a web that brings so many seemingly disconnected elements, many with totally different motives, to the island and into the crucible of destruction. For Madagaskar is an island on the very brink of revolt, and the world is watching tensely, for any shake might bring America into the matter. There is no forced or over-woven aspect to the drawing together of the strands of plot.
A word needs to be said on the characters. Despite this being Britain and Nazi Germany, do not expect to read with a ‘black and white’ moral attitude. You will find every shade of grey on both sides. Some of the Germans are almost sympathetic. Some of the British are downright loathsome. And they are all believable, which is perhaps the most critical thing.
Despite the ‘alternate reality’ setting of the novel, it is so realistic and clearly feasible that it doesn’t jar the reader at all. In fact, it is all too easy to accept this version of history as the truth. It so nearly could have happened.
The feel of the plot is something of a mix. It is part war story, part espionage, part drama, part prison movie. At times it felt a little like The Wild Geese, at others Where Eagles Dare, and others again Papillon. It is all of those things but not them alone. It is a masterful example of the craft of fiction and kept me riveted from beginning to end.
It’s out in paperback today. Go get these books folks, and make sure you have them read before the final part of the trilogy is published.