In recent years, Harry Turtledove has specialized in alternate-history novels in which World War II, say, is grimly complicated by the arrival of invading alien reptiloids; the fantasy sequence that started with Into the Darkness and continues with Darkness Descendingis a powerful demonstration that it is human malice, not military technology, that we have to fear. Broadly speaking, the sequence replays World War II with magical fantasy empires in place of the participants we know; there are analogies between the fiercely militarist kingdom of Algarve and the Third Reich, just as the dangerous paranoid who rules the rival empire of Unkerlant has much in common with Joseph Stalin. There is a Manhattan project making military use of the underlying rules of magic, a particularly vicious version of the Holocaust, and a large cast of vividly realized viewpoint characters--Unkerlant's principal general, an Algarvian dragon pilot, various confused civilians--caught in the wheels of history. Turtledove provides some worryingly thoughtful material here about power and its consequences; his bleak use of stock fantasy images in a developed military contex--screaming unicorns caught in firestorms--is coarse-grained but unforgettable.|
Source: Roz Kaveney, Amazon.co.uk.