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After the Downfall Hardcover – June 1, 2008

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 350 pages
  • Publisher: Night Shade Books; First Edition edition (June 1, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1597801305
  • ISBN-13: 978-1597801300
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.4 x 1.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,418,459 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Alternate historian Turtledove (The Man with the Iron Heart) opens this fantasy with Hasso Pemsel, a tough Wehrmacht captain, cornered in a Berlin museum as the Russians close in. Pemsel falls into another world, where he promptly rescues beautiful blonde half-goddess Velona from three swarthy men. Velona seduces him and explains that the blond Lenelli invaders rule over the dark native Grenye, keeping them subjugated with magic. Experienced from fighting on the Russian front, Hasso brings modern military ideas to the Lenelli before they invade the Grenye stronghold of Bucovin, but when the Grenye capture him, conversations with intelligent, lovely high priestess Drepteaza start to erode his assumptions about both races. Pemsel's slow enlightenment breaks no new ground, but his story will appeal to fans of Turtledove's straightforward style and military know-how. (Dec.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

An ancient relic flings Germany army captain Hasso Pemsel from the ruins of doomed Berlin to a fantastic though also war-torn other world. There he falls among the tall, blond Lenelli and in love with their goddess incarnate, Velona. At first he willingly helps the Lenelli in their war against the short, dark, barbarian Grenye, but soon he sees that his friends are making the same mistakes that the Third Reich did in its death-duel with the Russians. He knows where that course leads. After the Grenye capture him, it becomes even clearer to him that any war of extermination is a bad idea, but this one is especially so because Velona uses her magic to try to terminate him for sleeping with Grenye women. When he genuinely falls for one of the latter, the die is cast. He develops gunpowder, equips the Grenye with dragon-bone amulets to resist enemy magic, and discovers wizardly powers of his own. Modest by Turtledove’s standards but intelligently carried out. --Roland Green

More About the Author

Harry Turtledove is the award-winning author of the alternate-history works The Man with the Iron Heart; The Guns of the South; How Few Remain (winner of the Sidewise Award for Best Novel); the Worldwar saga: In the Balance, Tilting the Balance, Upsetting the Balance, and Striking the Balance; the Colonization books: Second Contact, Down to Earth, and Aftershocks; the Great War epics: American Front, Walk in Hell, and Breakthroughs; the American Empire novels: Blood & Iron, The Center Cannot Hold, and Victorious Opposition; and the Settling Accounts series: Return Engagement, Drive to the East, The Grapple, and In at the Death. Turtledove is married to fellow novelist Laura Frankos. They have three daughters: Alison, Rachel, and Rebecca.

Customer Reviews

I can only say, read the book, you will see what I mean.
Philip D. Long
About 50 pages in I was saying to myself, "when is he going to invent gunpowder?" and was not disappointed by the end of the book.
Kilgore Gagarin
There are the two Lenello, Orosei, and one Bucovin, Rautat, who are really well drawn three-dimensional characters.
Walt Boyes

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

16 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Walt Boyes VINE VOICE on September 21, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Harry Turtledove posits a typical Nazi soldier, in the last days of the defense of Berlin in 1945...Hasso Pemsel...who is supposed to defend to the death the ruins of the old Berlin Museum. All of the antiquities have supposedly been taken to safety in bunkers, but he finds a big rock that he hides behind, taking refuge from the Russian sharpshooters. He sees the information sign is still there, and it says that the big rock is the Omphalos stone, from the temple of Apollo at Delphi. He crawls on top of it and disappears.

He of course, reappears in an alternate reality...sort of a cross between Andre Norton's first Witch World novel and A Connecticut Yankee, with gorgeous Goddess priestess, who literally throws herself on her back and spreads her legs for him.

The story is an allegory about the Nazis and the way their beliefs about "untermenschen" made them vulnerable to the Russians, and by extension, to the Jews they were so busy exterminating.

Pemsel first works for King Bottero, whose tall, blonde people have invaded and subjugated the smaller, darker Grenye. All except for the nation of Bucovin. Bucovin is Russia without the communism...and its leader, Lord Zgomat, is a dead ringer for Lev Trotsky had he lived to run Russia.

Pemsel teaches the Lenelli what they are willing to learn about new tactics, and they initially have success in invading Bucovin. Then Pemsel is captured.

His Nazi nose is rubbed into the fact that the Lenelli are not kindly conquerors, and that the Bucovins are fighting to save their lives and their homes-- and are just as much people as the Lenelli, or as Pemsel himself, is...or, he reflects, as the Jews in his vanished home world must be.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Marshall Lord TOP 1000 REVIEWER on October 30, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Another exploration by Harry Turtledove of what happens when people who are not wholly evil find themselves fighting on the wrong side, and of whether there is anything they can do about it ...

The story begins as the Russians are over-running Berlin in 1945. Wehrmacht officer Hasso Pemsel and what's left of his once-proud unit are in the City Museum, surrounded by overwhelming numbers of tough Red Army soldiers who have a score to settle with the Germans after what the Nazis did to Russia.

In between dodging bullets in what he expects to be his last minutes of life, Hasso notes an inscription on an ancient stone which gives him the impression that the stone was supposed to be a gateway to other worlds. As an act of gallows humour, he sits on it - and his astonished Feldwebel sees him disappear. The NCO leaps, too late, for the stone himself, only to be cut down by Russian bullets. To the advancing Red Army soldiers who loot and rush past his body it is only another stone.

Hasso Pemsel finds himself in a completely different place - and the first thing he sees is a tall, magnificently beautiful, blonde woman fleeing from three men, armed with crude weapons, who are pursuing her with obviously hostile intent. Without thinking he acts to rescue her, and this is not too difficult as his sub-machine gun works perfectly in this new world (at least while it still has ammunition.)

The lady insists on thanking Hasso, there and then, in the most intimate way that a beautiful woman can thank a man for saving her life, and then shows him the way to her people's capital.

As he learns their language, Hasso discovers that this is a world of magicians, spells and unicorns, but no technology.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By T. Rogers on September 21, 2009
Format: Hardcover
As other reviewers have mentioned, this book is interesting because a Wehrmacht officer from oour world becomes aware of his prejudices by visiting another world. The funny thing to me about the book is that Bucovin and Suceava are place names in Romania! The Grenye characters have names whose Romanian meanings sometimes fit the characterization (Drepteaza) and sometimes have little or nothing to do with the personality at all (Zgomot! Gunoiul! Otset! and others). I was interested in the story of how our hero dealt with his challenges, and didn't want to go to sleep until I had finished reading it. If you get the paperback edition, it is certainly worth the money, or if the hard cover is on sale. At full price? This is not the sort of literature that one feels compelled to re-read, in terms of sword and sorcery novels. Dar ma bucur c'am citit-o.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Chris Swanson TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on January 12, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Harry Turtledove returns to the world of fantasy with something that isn't- quite- alternative history.

"After the Downfall" tells the story of a German officer during the waning days of World War II. As the Russian hordes are about to assault his position he touches a magical stone (just go with it), and winds up transported into a fantasy realm.

Fans of the "Legion of Videssos" books will recognize the notion of a magical artifact in this world transporting someone into a magical world. It's not exactly an uncommon theme, and though Turtledove's used it before, I'm willing to let him slide on it this time.

The German officer, one Hasso Pemsel, a name so odd I find myself wondering if it's another of Turtledove's puns, arrives in this brave new world and falls in with a group of people who are the Aryan wet dream. Tall, athletic, blonde and utterly convinced they are better than their short, dark, swarthy neighbors who aren't really people, after all, and have no rights to exist beyond those the blondes give them.

Seeing what the blondes do to the darker folk makes Pemsel start to look at his own conscience. Remembering what the Russians did on the Eastern Front, he realizes that these are people, just ones that look quite different. Eventually he's given a choice of switching sides, and spends a great deal more time deciding what to do than he might've expected.

The story is a little more sex-filled than most of Turtledove's books. Unlike most people I don't have a problem with his depictions of sex (which tend to be less graphic than those of violence, and if you want to show the scope of human existence, you really do need both), but there do seem to be quite a few that come off as wish fulfillment.
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