book coverBook Review: The United States of Atlantis by  Turtledove,  Harry , New York, ROC, 2008, ISBN 978-0-451-46236-7

This is a sequel to Opening Atlantis To recap, in this alternate universe, Atlantis is a large island in mid-Atlantic. Starting in the 15th century, it was settled by English, French and Spanish settlers. By the middle of the 18th century, the English had conquered the French-settled portion of Atlantis, under the leadership of Victor Radcliff, a descendant of the first Englishman to reach Atlantis.

This second book in the series continues the story of Victor Radcliff, as he leads the Atlanteans to independence from England. It is also the story of Blaise, a Negro servant whom Victor freed from French slavery in the earlier book.

Taxation becomes the critical issue dividing the Atlanteans and the English. The Atlanteans don’t see that they’re getting anything for the taxes the English collect. Moreover, the English try to restrict Atlantean trade to dealing with England only.

The spark that sets rebellion off is an attempt by the English to confiscate the guns of the Atlanteans. Victor Radcliff, as the Atlantean hero of the earlier war against the French, is chosen to lead the Atlantean rebel forces.

Many real historic personages appear in the story, in logical roles, including General Cornwallis and the Marquis de Lafayette. Tom Paine also makes an appearance. Radcliff sends him to North America, to stir up trouble there and divide the attentions of the English, much as General Ludendorff sent Lenin into Russia during World War I to stir up trouble. Several other characters are obviously patterned after prominent personages of revolutionary America. The reader can have fun recognizing them.

(Spoiler Alert!) Under Radcliff’s leadership, the Atlanteans win their independence. However, Turtledove is clearly laying the groundwork for a third volume in the series, and obviously slavery is going to play an important role in that third volume.

In my opinion, this is not as strong a book as was Opening Atlantis. For the reader familiar with the history of the American Revolution, much of the surprise value of certain events will be lost. Nevertheless, Turtledove spins a good yarn, and the characters are well developed. If you’re willing to go along for the ride, I think you’ll enjoy the story.

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