- File Size: 1097 KB
- Print Length: 162 pages
- Publisher: Harper Voyager (December 18, 2012)
- Publication Date: December 18, 2012
- Sold by: HarperCollins Publishers
- Language: English
- ASIN: B0095II6CW
- Text-to-Speech: Enabled
- Word Wise: Enabled
- Lending: Not Enabled
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #899,488 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
Price set by seller.
Black Sun Reich: The Spear of Destiny: Part One of Three Kindle Edition
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Most of you are too young for that, but some of you have bought the DVDs of the old movies, (Batman and Robin from 1949, The Phantom, Adventures of Captain Marvel, etc). Or you can just imagine any of the Indiana Jones movies cut up into fifteen to twenty-minute segments and delivered weekly.
Garrison delivers his equivalent in this three-book run in a steampunk world that's interesting and provides plenty of peril for its protagonists. Interestingly enough, the sequels pick up with the very next chapters instead of starting over again at number one, which will be confusing for anyone who picks the books up out of sequence.
The books are almost hitting the weekly matinee delivery schedule as well, which is a good thing, because waiting the tradition year or even nine months for the next installment would be frustrating. These are books meant to be consumed, not thought about or read deeply into. They're just fun in a grand, old fashioned way.
The choice of Kurt von Dietel as the main point of view character is interesting. Usually in these kinds of stories, the focal point is the hero, but Dietel is the filter for the reader and it works very well. He becomes almost a Watson in the overall scheme of things. Since everything is new to him, the reader gets introduced to things more in-depth.
The novel's world building is interesting as well. Much of it is conjecture that has more or less been presented in other stories, but that lends a loose foundation to everything Garrison is doing. There are a lot of historical people and events thrown into the mix as well, so armchair historians are going to have a blast with these books.
The villains are straight out of those creepy serials: iron masks, demonic, and powerful. It's gonna be fun watching the heroes catch up with the bad guys and give them a pounding.
Garrison hasn't created anything new here, but he's delivered a whiz-bang story with all the bells and whistles, heroes readers can cheer for, and villains to boo and hiss.
The story itself was not terrible, but could have been better.
Given the influence of the Thule Society on the development of the Nazi Party, the pairing of demons and Nazis is natural but predictable. It's been done before. As an alternate history, however, Black Sun Reich adds inventive elements to the story: Hitler came to power in Germany in 1922 as the result of a revolution; the Confederate States (CSA) still prohibit black citizens from voting while the Union States (USA) are mired in an economic depression; the USA fought alongside Germany in the Great War while the CSA sided with France and England (the Texas Freehold was studiously neutral). The alternate version of 1928 has some steampunk elements, including a flying city and "the largest Difference Engine ever built." Apart from its reference to a long-standing image of darkness, the Black Sun in the title refers both to the Black Sun rune in Wewelsburg Castle and to the dozen senior leaders of the Third Reich (one of whom was rebuilt as a "clockwork cyborg"), known collectively as The Black Sun.
Dr. Kurt von Dietel is on a secret mission. He and the people he represents have discovered that the powers behind the Reich are creating a group of "indestructible, unwavering soldiers" inspired by the mutated creatures that are arising in the Damned Lands, a transgenic abomination that, fancy terminology aside, can best be described as a cross between a demon and a zombie. Of course, they threaten the survival of the human race and must be stopped. The improbable key to victory is the Spear of Destiny, last known to be in the possession of the Jesuits. Reluctantly joining Dietel in search of the Spear is a Texan aviator named Fox Rucker. He's reluctant because another member of the team is his ex-wife. Technological help is supplied by Howard Hughes and Nikola Tesla.
The most interesting aspect of Black Sun Reich is not the plot so much as the background. The splintering of North America into several nations could have happened, and Trey Garrison's construction of his alternate history reflects careful research and nuanced thought. There is a decided bias in favor of libertarian philosophy -- the Texas Freehold does so well because people are left alone, while the USA has gone to rot because of big government -- that would have made Robert Heinlein proud. The characters' discussions of political philosophy are simplistic and, in my view, not particularly accurate, but disagreement with a political point of view is no reason not to enjoy a novel.
I don't know that the steampunk elements add anything (they seem to have been inserted to make the novel appeal to steampunk fans) and I'm certain that a better novel could be fashioned out this background without resorting to demonic zombies. I'm not suggesting that every alternate history addressing Nazis needs to be as brilliant as The Man in the High Castle, but does the world really need another zombie novel? My fear is that the novel will turn into a conventional human versus zombie horror story, thus wasting the imaginative alternate history that Garrison created. As a first third of a novel, however, Black Sun Reich established sufficiently engaging characters and showed enough inventiveness that I am motivated to move on to the next installment.