I bought the first book - "Patton's Spaceship" - and quickly realized that it was to be the first book of a series (the open plot threads & characters that have walk-ons for no plot-specific reasons would scream that even if it didn't
on the backcover). And after some confusion about sequels (according to Books In Print, there was another book in the series out Timeline Wars: The Crux of Battle
, which probably was same book - judging by the fact that the www.amazon.com ad for Patton's Spaceship
shows Crux of Battle
as the cover) rereleased under a different name, maybe even the publisher figured out the first title didn't have much to do with the story) I managed to dig up the other two books.
Probably didn't need to.
Okay, they're not horrible
- as I say below "it was a fun - if slightly mindless - story"
- but they're not really AH (see Ian Montgomerie's review
for why - he explains it better than I can), and there really isn't a lot of difference between the first, second, and third books (note how "expansive" the reviews of those two are below). We never really see the "Closers" or their society - heck, we don't seem much of the ATN's either! - plot is minimial, and the story boils down to Strang (and his friends) shoot bad guys until they run out of bad guys.
Find it at a library, check it out, and read it that way if you want to kill an afternoon or two.
After having half his family blown-up by the terrorist
group "Blade of the Most Merciful", Mark Strang becomes a Private
Investigator (actually, more of a bodyguard) specializing in protecting
his clients from the attacks of others - disgruntled spouses, for instance.
When a new client comes with information that remnants of "Blade"
are after him, a revenge-starved Strang jumps on the case...
...which results in his getting transported eight-hundred
years into the future of another timeline.
Here he learns that "Blade" is but a local arm
of an empire called "The Closers", who are gradually trying to
take over all the timelines, their only real opponents the ATN, based on
a timeline where Athens won the Peloponnesian War. "The Closers"
pretty much make Nazis look like kindly old Grandmothers and Strang - still revenge-minded - immediately wants a piece of them.
An attack by Strang and his client on a "Blade"
base in Seattle ends up with his client dead, and Strang transported to
the early 1960's of a world where, thanks to the intervention of "The
Closers", Germany won WWII, America is now a fascist state, and the
last freedom fighters, led by General Patton, are a group of nations and refugees, centered around South-East Asia, fighting a desperate struggle against Germany and its
...A struggle Strang has to help them win.
Well, this is alternate history, but quite frankly,
said history is pretty much irrelevant to the plot, which is a standard
action-adventure story. Think "Remo Williams" here. We rarely
see a character (other than Strang) for more than a few pages before he
or she leaves to do something "off camera" or is killed in some
messy way. And the title itself is somewhat misleading: Patton has a few
scenes, true, the spaceship, a few less, but neither actually has much
to do with the story or its resolution - which basically involves shooting
everything until you run out of Nazis.
Still, it was a fun - if slightly mindless - story,
well worth killing an afternoon with. At least, at paperback prices.
And Barnes deserves kudos for realizing
that, in order for Nazi Germany to win WWII, almost everything
to go wrong for the Allies. And his alternate-world "Closers"
arrange things to do just that: Germany gets jets at the beginning of the
war, Roosevelt & Stalin are assassinated, Churchill doesn't get into
power until much later, Lindberg becomes a severely
President, and so on. The only thing they don't
do is give Germany
an atomic bomb (explained by saying that, after a long history of nuclear
warfare, "The Closers" are quite a bit phobic about it ever happening
again where it could affect them. A reasonable historical development for
such a group, true, but it's really only there because if Germany had nukes,
the freedom fighters would be long gone before Strang even arrives, time travel or no).
Like the first one, it's slightly mindless - though the body count does
drop - but fun.
All three share a common thread that the title "object" has very little to do with the story: Neither the Spaceship, Dirigible, nor Bicycle have very much page-time, nor much to do with the plot (well, the Bicycle is kinda
necessary for the story, still...).