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The Domination Hardcover – May 31, 1999
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It's about time! No more scouring used-book stores for tattered copies to replace the ones you loaned your friends: the first two installments of S.M. Stirling's superlative military-SF/alternate-history Draka trilogy are back in print, bound along with the third installment in hardcover. The only downside to this collection--which spans Marching Through Georgia, Under the Yoke, and The Stone Dogs--is the disappointing omission of the helpful maps, glossary, and so on that appeared in the original editions. But as some consolation, we at least get a bit of new backstory for the pseudo-sequel to Stone Dogs, Drakon, in the form of a prologue and a few interspersed paragraphs bookending each title.
The Draka series (dubbed The Domination in this collection) still requires a strong stomach--you'll find no shortage of blood and bullets or sex and violence here. But it's prudish to argue with Stirling's choices. A skilled writer and rigorous thinker, he's spun a compelling--not to mention plausible and well-researched--alternate history for earth: in this timeline, the Loyalists losers in the American Revolution set up shop in South Africa and then proceed to subjugate and industrialize the continent, eventually exporting their brutal system of slavery and conquest through WWI, WWII, and beyond to cover the better part of the globe. Page-turning, blood-pumping, realistic, and masterfully written combat SF, The Domination is part of the genre's canon. --Paul Hughes
"[Stirling is] a writer to be reckoned with".-- Wilson Library Bulletin
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Stirling's impossible choice in these three brilliant novels is a different and subtle one. He posits a military aristocracy that endures over generations, over centuries, growing steadily in strength and -- Domination.
In this it is utterly unlike all the real military aristocracies in history, which either collapsed into their own decadence after a few generations (the Romans, the Vikings, the Turks), or which were challenged by less warlike but more flexible peoples who defeated them (the Spartans, the Mongols, the Napoleonic Grand Army, the Zulu, the Samurai, the Southern Chivalry, the Prussians, the Fascists -- that list of romantic flame-outs is a long one). The closest thing to real Draka enduring in our world are the descendants of Tory exiles in Canada, and of Confederate émigrés in Brazil. The only remarkable thing about either group is that they survived at all. Historically they have amounted to nothing.
If you allow Stirling his impossible premise, and he takes pains to make it plausible, then all else follows in good order, with heads held high, muscles rippling, slaves cringing, maidens lusting, secret policemen slaughtering, and all the other fun things that totalitarians have dreamed of, ever since Étienne Cabet invented Communism, in feeble hope of recapturing the lost greatness of Napoleon in an imaginary new dominion called Icaria (new in 1840, anyway, and Cabet's Voyage to Icaria was a bestseller by 1845, inspiration to the revolutions of 1848).
The Domination of the Draka is a lot more fun than any of the countless boring socialist utopias that have plagiarized Cabet since 1840, at least fun for the Draka, if not for the dominated -- and certainly fun for the 21st century reader, at least for the politically incorrect reader who is able to enjoy a book without consulting a study guide that tells him what to think and feel.
Stirling created a complex, detailed, almost plausible world. Then he wound it up and made it run, with lively characters, vivid architecture, realistic war industry, formidable armies, and intimately detailed battles. I suspect it took him more than six days to create his world. I read the whole thing in three days, it is that engaging.
Basic idea is an alternative history where a colony keeps slavery and then grows in power. They fight on the side of the allies during WWII. If you love military fiction and like to feel the horror and triumph of battle, this is the series for you. This rates up with Hammer's Slammers as far as getting into the mind of the soldier. The series follows a family, and a nation. It is THE BEST war series of books I have ever read. Puts you in the front line and still provides the bigger picture and fascinating alternative history that really brings home how different our world could have been.Kept me so entranced that I finished the 4 book series in just a couple of weeks. It isn't short. I just read fast and did without sleep as I HAD TO KNOW WHAT HAPPENS NEXT! BTW, this combo only includes the first three books. Get Drakon as well. Totally worth it and puts a very nice cherry on top.
And he can write. He can develop character.
However he as problems: His main point of view caracther in the first volume is male, and a slave owner, the second book (the weakest uses lsaves as the main point ov virew, and the last book youses a female slave owner, and unleashes a biological plague. The SJW will hate these books.
But they are a warning. Besides, tehy are far better written than the foolish mockingjay series.