The United States of Atlantis
by Harry Turtledove
Cover Artist: Steve Stone
Review by Bill Lawhorn
Roc Hardcover ISBN/ITEM#: 9780451462367
Date: 02 December 2008 List Price $25.95 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /
The oppressive hand of tyranny is causing the citizens of Atlantis to chafe. Similar to the American colonists of our own timeline, they choose to rise up in the name of freedom. This is the second book of the Atlantis series. It covers a much smaller stretch of history. In Opening Atlantis, the founding of the Atlantean colonies and the strife that brings them under the British crown are covered through the eyes of the Radcliff family. This covered hundreds of years. This novel focuses on several years that are analogous to the American Revolution. The main difference is the focus on the war rather than the individual role in discovering and settling a new continent.
The continent of Atlantis is the Eastern portion of North America that is in the Middle of the Atlantic Ocean of this world. Closer to Europe, it is not as isolated as the North America of our world. As the rabble rousers of the Atlantean colonies prepare to rebel, they call on Victor Radcliff to lead the forces against the King. Undermanned and unprepared for war, the colonists must find a way to earn their freedom.
The great and notable events of our Revolution are also present here. They come out a little different, as can be expected in an alternate reality. Some famous people from our timeline are present here as well in the same name. Other famous people are also present but under a new name. This actually leads to one of the extra enjoyment of reading alternate history, guessing who the character would have been in our world. Some are easy, others not. But readers should expect to see all of our Founding Fathers in some form.
The United States of Atlantis is a book with a lot of interesting ideas. It also sets up the opportunity for an advancing world that will be different from our world. There are opportunities for others to settle the rest of Terra Nova, think the rest of North America. The relative closeness of Atlantis to mainland Europe will create opportunities for Atlantis to be drawn into European affairs. Although there will be tensions in Atlantis between English Northern settlements and Southern French former colonies, the specter of slavery may go before it leads to a great war between the states.
Similar to works set during our own Revolution, The United States of Atlantis is at its heart an adventure against foreign tyranny. If you enjoyed Redcoat by Bernard Cornwell you should enjoy this novel as well. This is different from many other recent Turtledove novels in that it follows Victor Radcliff instead of having many points of view. Victor is called upon, and answers. He makes good and bad choices as all men who go to war do. In the end he must face the consequences.
Come enjoy the turmoil and pain that forming a new country entails. I look forward to seeing more adventures set in Atlantis.