Monday, August 8, 2011

Under The Yoke by S.M. Stirling - A Book Review

Under The Yoke is the sequel to S.M. Stirling's Marching Through Georgia

The book opens in 1947. The Second World War (titled the "Eurasian War" in this series)is over, the Draka now control all of Africa and Eurasia (with the exception of India). The remaining free nations of the world have created the "Alliance For Democracy", which includes the U.S. and the U.K., South America, Australia, India (which includes Pakistan and Myanmar), New Zealand, Japan and all of the South Pacific.

The war has left 200 million people dead; a cold war has begun between the Draka and the Alliance.

In Europe, the Draka are taking the methods they perfected in Africa, and bringing them to the heart of western civilization. All centers of education are closed down, radios are confiscated, curfews established, and every day more and more people are rounded up by the Draka military to be sent to state-owned factory compounds or sold into slavery.

The novel begins with two women, Marya Sokolowska, a Polish Nun and Chantel Lefarge, a French Communist are bought out of a detention center by a Draka named Tanya van Shrakenberg, who has just purchased a plantation in France.

Meanwhile, Finnish-American OSS agent Frederick Kustaa has just been inserted into Europe, his mission is to find an Austrian scientist who has knowledge of nuclear weapons that the Americans need for their weapons project.

While Lefarge and Sokolowska are forced to endure the horrors of slavery, Kustaa must make his way across a devasted Europe, find the scientist and extract him to safety. As the novel progresses it is revealed that Sokolowska is still a member of the French resistance and is to be Kustaa's contact.

Whereas Marching Through Georgia was a war story told from the perspective of the Draka, Under The Yoke is told from the perspective of the slaves. And it is not pretty. Stirling pulls almost no punches, murder, impalement and rape are all depicted in graphic detail.

But it is still a good novel, despite it's flaws.

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