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    BAEN, November 2001

    The war between the provinces drags on with the serf-holding north holding on despite advances by the south. After winning the battle in Franklin, the southern army faces a new opponent--one who intends to keep his army intact and to force the south to take losses for every mile of territory they conquer. Fortunately for the south, the northern generals are constantly back-stabbing their leader. If the southern population is willing to continue the battle, the blond serfs of the north may, eventually, be freed.

    MARCHING THROUGH PEACHTREE is a fantasy novel (magic, dragons, flying carpets) version of the U.S. Civil War recounting Sherman's march through Georgia. This type of fantasy recasting of real historic events is something of a Harry Turtledove specialty (click here for other reviews by author Harry Turtledove) and MARCHING THROUGH PEACHTREE is the best of these novels I've read yet. Turtledove gives the reader a full range of the battle, depicting the decisions and lives of both generals and privates. Ex-serf and blond Rollant is an especially interesting and sympathetic character.

    Fans of epic fantasy may be disturbed by the moral ambiguity in MARCHING THROUGH PEACHTREE. Although the southern (U.S. northern) cause is depicted somewhat more sympathetically, the northern side also has its merits--there can be no pure battle between good and evil. To enforce the parallels to U.S. history, Turtledove is forced to introduce some rather extreme stretches--e.g., using magic carpets as a substitute for the all-important railroads. As always, when recounting historical events, the reader is forced to accept foolish decisions (because they actually happened) that no reader would accept in a pure fiction work (because no villain or hero would do anything that stupid).

    If you enjoy this type of historical analogue novel, MARCHING THROUGH PEACHTREE is one of the best. It may be read independently of the earlier novel in this series (see our review of SENTRY PEAK)

    Three Stars

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