by Harry Turtledove
Cover Artist: Steve Stone
Review by Bill Lawhorn
Roc Hardcover ISBN/ITEM#: 9780451462961
Date: 01 December 2009 List Price $25.95 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /
Freedom isn't free. There is always a cost associated with it. The cost is usually the lives of many soldiers who have committed themselves to protecting others or righting the wrongs that they see. In the Atlantis timeline, many events have happened that are similar to those of our own timeline. There is a strong correlation between our own history and that of Atlantis. America is discovered originally by fisherman, so is Atlantis. Isolated from other contact, large birds and predators develop, similar to New Zealand. A settled new world is conquered by the British. Colonies free themselves from British rule with French help. Notice the pattern.
It is now the mid 19th century in Atlantis. The great debate is also slavery. So the next thing that must happen is the Civil War. But wait, there is something different. A Radcliff, born a slave but descended from the First Consul, brings something completely different. For want of a nail, a kingdom was lost. A loose floorboard sets about a chain of events that will change Atlantis forever. Spilled soup leads to sickness which leads to a slave insurrection that will shake the very foundation of Atlantis.
So instead of the Civil War between North and South, there is a growing revolt that the Southern States can't put down. It would seem simple to call in Federal troops, but the system of government in Atlantis is a Republic, modeled upon the Roman Republic. Two consuls that can each veto the others actions and who command on alternating days. This is a recipe for inaction.
Radcliff(e)'s have been at the center of all of the major events in Atlantis. This crisis is no different. Slave Fredrick Radcliff will either create a new world or die trying. The question is whether the Radcliff blood runs true. Slavery will end, but how will it end? The only way to find out is to read Liberating Atlantis.
This is part of a series and should be read only in order. There are references to two short stories that I haven't read but are fairly clear as to what they are about. Readers do not need to look up those stories.
I enjoyed this book. It is one of Harry Turtledove’s best recent works. The divergence from History was finally significant. The final outcome will be interesting to watch as they trickle down into the coming years. One of the greatest complaints I have seen of the Atlantis series is that they are too close to real History. Well Harry took this series in a new direction and here’s hoping that it continues to go its own way.