This book is a clear case of concept outpacing writing.
The Third Reich was triumphant. Adolf Hitler and the Nazis achieved peace by following the (very real) Atlantropa Articles. They built giant dams around the Mediterranean and drained it. Unfortunately, the wealth of farmland they expected gave way to the Kiln: a dry, salty desert that could kill a man with its heat in no time at all. But peace was still realized and 2,000 years later the Reich in Europe thrives. They have colonies on other planets and only suffer rare scavenger attacks in the Kiln. How they can have colonies on other planets and not achieved world domination yet is not an answer you will find in this book.
Ansel is a captain of a giant supply trawler that journeys through the Kiln. They bring supplies to the giant cities that line the southern border and keep scavengers from invading Germania. He has brought along his ultra-Nazi brother Ulric, a golden Knight of the Reich, to introduce him to the southern realm.
So again, the concept is good. Alternate history is always fun and what if the Nazi’s won World War II or avoided it completely is a fun question to debate and imagine. Props for that. I also like how small the world of this novel is. It’s narrowed down to these two brothers and the ship Ansel captains. Grand designs are abandoned for a smaller, tighter story about belief, loyalty, and brotherhood.
But then we get into the actual prose. The design of the book is not conducive to enjoyment. Ironically, the paragraphs of this book are just like this blog. Separated by a space with zero indentation. Now, I think that is fine for a blog, because it is a single page you scroll down. Not so for a physical book. It just screams amateur. Little things like that would have made this book much easier to read. Instead they look like the publisher did it to extend the page count. The book also uses ellipses…like this instead of … like this. That little space helps the eye. They also weren’t consistent. Sometimes they had four dots, sometimes they had three. No rhyme or reason.
The writing itself is lacking in several areas. It’s okay that we don’t like the main character, he’s a Nazi who snaps a girl’s arm off in the opening lines. But the way he talks to himself is much more teenager than battle hardened veteran. For a world so richly imagined, it is not richly described. I just had to imagine the sand crawler from Star Wars for their ship because the author barely describes it. Same with the armor every person wore. No description whatsoever besides armor and what color it was. There is passive voice everywhere despite the first person narration. And something that irks me to no end, describing how characters say something. No matter how small the comment the author always mentioned how they said it. “I spat, He spat, He said slowly, I reply cooly, I said with anger in my voice” – Dialogue usually needs to speak for itself except when the author really needs to identify who the speaker is. Again, this is just padding the runtime of an already very short book.
Also, adverbs are fine. But using them to excess is still an issue for me. Lot’s of “ly’s” in this book.
All in all, a disappointing read. Good concept, bad execution. Great cover though.
1 out of 4 stars.