After the Downfall by Harry Turtledove
Book Report by Vincent
They say that you can’t judge a book by it’s cover, but as often the case here at The Robot’s Pajamas, I do it all the time. To be fair though, how could you see a book with a Nazi riding a unicorn and automatically not think it’s awesome? When you see a cover like that, you’ve got to read the book just to find out just what the fuck is going on. And find out I did!
If you’re not familiar with author Harry Turtledove, all you have to know is that he’s the king of alternate history. His books includes Civil War dudes using AK-47s and aliens attacking Earth during World War II. It’s really quite amazing that I haven’t read any of his works before, considering I’m a fan of fine literature. In After the Downfall Turtledove mixes Nazis with fantasy. Now the book isn’t exactly what I thought it would be from the cover. Not in the same way that The Right to Arm Bears was completely different. For some reason, I thought that that the Nazi on the cover would be bringing back Germany from the jaws of defeat with the aid of magic. Nope, while there is a German riding a unicorn, I don’t think at any point that they confirm that he’s a member of the Nazi party. He’s a Wehrmacht officer (i.e. regular army, not the super bad S.S. guys) named Hasso Pemsel who gets magically transported to another world. As soon as he gets there he sees a sexy blond woman being chased by a group of swarthy men that look like they’re intent on killing her or worse. He does what any good WWII era German would, he shoots the swarthy fellows with his machine gun. He’s promptly rewarded with some hot sex from the woman pretty much right there on the spot. Welcome to Nazi paradise! The world is actually a fantasy land that most resembles medieval Europe in the iron age with some magic thrown in.
Hasso is double lucky, because the woman, Velona, is actually a priestess who has a lot of pull in the local kingdom. She’s a Lenelli, a race of very tall, blond haired, blue eyed magical people. Sound familiar? But wait, it gets better! The Lenelli are pretty much dominating a race of people called the Grenye.The Grenye are a short, dark haired, “swarthy” type of folk that get the shaft every which way from the Lenelli. Yep, it’s their fantasy Jews. So what we have is fantasy world where the Germans are on top and life is gravy, except for the fact that it’s lacking a lot of modern conveniences. Our hero has it pretty good, because not only is he regularly screwing Velona, he gets in pretty good with the King. You see, the Lenelli still have to conqueror one last Grenye stronghold and Hasso is pretty handy with coming up with tactics and weapons, being that he’s from the future and all.
I don’t want to ruin anything for you, because a lot of the fun of this book is seeing how Hasso comes to grips with the fact that the Lenelli are jerks and maybe… just maybe… those Jews weren’t as bad as everyone was saying they were. Gasp!
The only bad thing I can say about After the Downfall is that there’s a lot of comparisons between Germany’s war with Russia during WWII and the current situation Hasso is in. It works for awhile, but then after a certain point it’s every other paragraph that there’s a comparison. It gets old after a certain point. We get it. Germany lost. They were on top of the world and then they underestimated the Russians. I don’t need to be beaten over the head with it.
Overall though, it’s an excellent read. There’s Nazis, medieval combat, and sex. What else could you want? Oh yeah, and the German guy does ride a unicorn. Score!