Tor, Apr 2002, 27.95, 656 pp.
The Derlavian War that has devastated the world is now over three years old with no end in sight. Led by the magic derived from slaughtering the Kuusamians, the Algarvian Empire continues the fight with the Kingdom of Unkerlant in spite of the recent loss at Sullingen.
In Kuusamo mages work on developing a new magical “genie” that will stop the Algarve aggression. However, though distant, even here Algarvian magic attacks try to disrupt the mage project that the Kuusamo is turning to successfully end the war as the victors.
In the conquered lands, small resistance movements to overthrow the yoke of the Algarvian Empire have sprung up. However, gains are so minuscule that even the resistance fighters feel they are just gnats attacking dragons.
Harry Turtledove's latest magical portrayal of World War II is an interesting alternate history tale. The author shows that war is gritty and the two prime heavyweights (the Algarvian Empire and the Kingdom of Unkerlant) both are nasty and use people as fodder. Mr. Turtledove also shows numerous perspectives of war so that it is difficult to understand any viewpoint. In spite of six hundred plus pages, the magical history of World War II seems more like the trench warfare at Verdun during World War I as the story moves forward less than a year and there remains two more years of fighting. Like the three previous Darkness novels, RULERS OF DARKNESS is a rich complex tale that adheres to the core message that regardless of the weapons (magical or mundane) war makes hell look like a tropical spa.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner