The Long War (The Long Earth, #2)

By Terry Pratchett

Rating: 3 stars

A generation or so after the Long Earth is opened to humanity, people are still trying to get used to the whole idea, and its implications and ramifications. The gentle trolls that span the worlds are retreating in the face of human advance and the strange creature known as Lobsang once again recruits Joshua Valiant√© to try and save these natives of the Long Earth, while colonists way down the Long Earth are getting restless with the Datum’s yoke.

A big problem problem in this book is the multitude of characters but without anyone to really root for. Joshua feels a bit passive, allowing things to happen to him without driving anything. (Fellow natural stepper) Sally is intensely unlikeable; Nelson and Agnes get hardly any screen time (feeling like they’re possibly being set up for a future book); Lobsang is an almost literal deux ex machina. Pulling strings behind the scenes but without enough personality to really be sympathetic or to strive for.

Once again, it feels like this is very much a Stephen Baxter book, without very much of Pratchett’s trademark humour. The American-centric nature of the book is odd as well, given that both the authors are British, but I guess that it’s the Americans that we think of as having the pioneer spirit to run out and colonise the Long Earth. But I’d still have liked more than just the brief hints that we had of how other Datum nations are coping with the implications of the Long Earth.

The main impression is that it was a bit confused (and confusing). There were too many different plotlines ongoing for its (not inconsiderable) running length and as a result, it felt muddy and disjointed. Perhaps all these separate strands will come together as the books go on, but reading them slowly, one at a time, makes for an unsatisfying experience.

Book details

ISBN: 9780552167758
Publisher: Corgi
Year of publication: 2013

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