OUT OF THE DARKNESS

by Harry Turtledove

Tor

0-765-30438-4

524pp/$27.95/March 2004

Out of the Darkness
Cover by Bob Eggleton

Reviewed by Steven H Silver


In Out of the Darkness, the final novel in Harry Turtledoveís magical World War II analogy, the war is winding down and his characters are beginning to look to a future in a changed world of peace.  At the same time, other characters are trying to rebuild their lives destroyed by the war and still more characters wonít have to worry about the post-war world as Turtledove continues his penchant for killing off major, even viewpoint, characters.

As has been noted by several reviewers and fans, the Derlevai series is an analog for our own historyís World War II, and therefore anyone who has been paying attention in history class will know the basic outline of events as Unkerlant, Kuusamo and Lagoas move closer and closer to the Algarvian capital of Trapani.  However, it isnít for these macrothemes that readers can enjoy Out of the Darkness, but rather for the stories of the individual characters, whether the tailor Talsu, who finds himself desiring a world without monarchs and nobles, or the theoretical mage Pekka, dealing with her love for her husband, Leino, and her lover, Fernao.

One of the issues which many of the characters have been trying to deal with is how the Algarvians could be so evil to attempt genocide against the Kaunians, and in Out of the Darkness, Turtledove and the situation allows more of them to ruminate on this question, from the Algarvians forced to condone the situation, like Constable Bembo or Colonel Sabrino, to those who canít even fathom their guilt, like the mage Ilmarinen. in fact, in Out of the Darkness, Ilmarinen, who has been a supporting character throughout most of the books, takes on a viewpoint role and becomes one of the most interesting and important characters, at least in terms of advancement of the themes Turtledove has been following throughout the series.

As the war draws to a close, and even after it is over, Turtledove practically appears to take delight in killing off characters at an ever increasing pace.  These deaths, sometimes merited, other times not, further serve to illustrate the horrors of the war Turtledove has been documenting.  Because the reader has gotten to know these characters over several books, their deaths, even in the cases where the reader has been hoping for their deaths, provide an emotional jolt to the reader in a way that the more distant and sporadic violence of the earlier books couldn't.

Even as Turtledove kills off many characters, he leaves the others to get on with their lives.  Characters long separated manage to reunite and attempt to pick up their lives where they left off.  In other cases, the reunions are not quite what would have been hoped for.  Turtledove makes it clear that some of the characters will get along just fine in the post-war world while other will have a difficult time adjusting to the world in which they will find themselves.

Out of the Darkness is an excellent summation of the series begun in Into the Darkness.  Turtledove successfully brings his multitude of plots to their conclusions and leaves the reader wondering, in some cases, what will happen next.  Although the overarching plot continues to follow the basic thread of World War II, there are enough differences that the outcome isn't entirely predictable, but similar enough to the war that the reader can have a good idea about what is occurring while focusing on the stories and characters.


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