Turtledove has a platform in this novel, and he uses it effectively. The writing is bold, and the characters well drawn. Military strategy, often a difficulty for writers, is clear. The trouble Turtledove faces is that he takes on a new continent, then fails to provide that continent with its own sense of self, even borrowing American children's rhymes for Atlantis' schoolchildren, so that Atlantis fails to become a character in its own right. Rewriting the Civil War in the United States would have been easier and more effective.
Frederick and his fellow slaves rise up against their white masters, throwing the continent of Atlantis into chaos and war. North and South embroil themselves in a pitched battle, one to preserve their way of life, the other to gain autonomy for their lives. Can the slaves win the same freedoms for themselves that the founding fathers claimed to hold so dear? (ROC, Dec., 448 pp., $25.95)