Book Review – Last Orders, by Harry Turtledove


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This series has been really irritating to me on several levels. Everything from the the so-called “big switch”, which promised to change everything but in fact changed nothing, right on down to the way this book, supposedly the last in the series, ended. And yet…the story has been interesting enough to keep my attention and if there winds up being another book in this series, I’ll probably read it.

As before this book follows several characters zipping around a slightly earlier version of World War II doing various things. There’s a Czech sniper in Spain (did you know it gets hot in Spain during the summer? In case you forget, you’ll be reminded several times), a Soviet bomber crew (did you know bombers get lighter as they drop their bombs? In case you forget, you’ll be reminded several times), a Jewish woman living in Munster (did you know the Nazis didn’t like Jews? In case you forget, you’ll be reminded several times), and others, all of whom have attributes to them that you might forget, but, don’t worry; you’ll be reminded about them several times.

Yes, as you may have gathered, one of Turtledove’s more annoying practices is back again. Also, it has returned. On top of that, it’s annoying. Plus it’s annoying, and back yet again.

But…still I read, and still I mostly enjoy. In fact, I was generally satisfied with this book until the very end.

SPOILERS from here on out.

You see, the war in Europe comes to an end in the last few chapters (and yet again, a major alt history writer misses a chance to put Hitler on trial for war crimes), and that’s all well and good. Germany isn’t as beaten as they were in the real world, and it could be interesting to see how that impacts things down the line. But if I never found out, that would be ok.

What isn’t really ok is that the war in the Pacific seems to finally be gearing up to take center stage. Midway and Wake are both taken and things are getting interesting, especially as the marines who invaded Midway are forced to remain there under quarantine for an undetermined time.

And…then the book ends. The apparently last book in the series. The war with Japan is just really getting interesting, and the book stops. Doesn’t even really end, as far as that part is concerned; it just stops. Now if this is a set-up for book seven, which as far as I know, isn’t a thing, that’s fine. If it’s just the end of the series, then it’s very sloppy writing.

Sadly, Turtledove seems to have lost his touch in recent years. The Atlantis series was drivel from the first book, so I didn’t bother with the second. The Supervolcano series showed so much potential, but the second book was so dreadful, I haven’t bothered with the third. Then there’s this series, which again, had much potential, but, really, it isn’t a very alternate history.

All that said, if there is a book seven, I’ll read it. If not, I’ll probably read whatever Turtledove puts out instead next summer. Even his bad books are still better than most.

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