Title: The Long War
Author: Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter
Page Count/Review Word Count: 512
This book wasn’t as good as the first book in the series, but it wasn’t a total failure either. It’s also going to be difficult for me to review, because as the second book in the series, I can’t say a huge amount about it without spoiling both this book and the one before it. It was pretty good though, even if “The Long War” is a bit of a misnomer because no shots were fired. It was kind of anticlimactic in that way.
It was also a little jarring because a big chunk of time has passed between the end of the last book and the start of this one. Joshua Valiente has married Helen, who was a little girl during the first book, and so it almost feels a little bit wrong. I’m not entirely sure what the age difference is, but it has to be a fair amount.
The Long War was also longer than the first book, and I feel like it suffered because of it. It was dragging by the end, and I ended up skim reading the last fifty pages or so, at least until something big happened right at the end. Unfortunately, that’s starting to feel a little bit old and worn, because the same thing happened in the first book. I’m now fully expecting it to happen in books three and four as well. Sure, it’s not unusual for books in a series to set the next book up, but at the same time the events at the end of the first two books are so apocalyptic that they really need a rapid follow-up.
On the plus side, I did enjoy reading it and I’m looking forward to the rest of the series, even though it’s starting to feel as though none of the original characters are even left. In many ways, that doesn’t matter, because I’m more interested in the ideas that the book has to share than I am in the characters or even in what actually happens. I’ve been consistently impressed throughout this series by the way in which it uses popular science and psychology while simultaneously telling a cracking story.
Then there’s the way it taps into mythology, albeit in quite a subtle way. As people explore various corners of The Long Earth, they also find new types of creatures, including the elves and the trolls that we met in the first book. But they have little in common with the established mythology, and really the terms are just used as a way to give things a label. It’s a nice little nod to fantasy from within a science fiction novel though, and it was cool to meet kobolds. I feel like they’re an underrated fantasy creature, and even though the creatures here weren’t true kobolds, they were interesting enough on their own.
All in all then, I enjoyed this one and want more!