As anticipated, another alternate history of the many wars between the USA and the CSA was released, and then I read it. I mean, months later, also as anticipated, but that’s fine because there’s only one left, and now I can not wait a long time to see how things turn out, if that’s my preference. It probably won’t be, but, y’know. It’s nice to have options. Also, of course, it would probably be easy to keep on rolling the clock forward even after World War II ends, since the face of the planet is so different after eighty years of Confederate existence. America allied with non-fascist Germany, Russia still under the control of the tsar, Canada occupied… lots of differences.
The main problem with The Grapple is that the surprises are running out. Is there a crazy guy in charge of a downtrodden nation who has united his people in hatred of an outsider ethnic group, which group is now being slaughtered by the millions? Why, yes. Does this slaughter actively interfere with what could have been a successful war effort? On multiple levels, in fact. Does he at least have VX rocket analogues with which he can create a little bit of tension? You know he will sooner or later! Is there a top secret atomic arms race? Heck, that even happened in the aliens version of World War II that Turtledove already wrote, so no way is it going to vanish this time.
The one thing that does recommend the series is that it has spanned ten books now and three generations. As a result, I find myself interested in the individual fates of the characters, wherein some drama is still possible. I suppose I couldn’t expect the outcome of the war to be different, since there are stark lines between good and evil at this point. But it still hurts a series when you know almost exactly how it’s going to end and you’re only a little over halfway through it. (I mean, not that there will be twenty books, but that this particular war forms its own “mini-series”, if you will. That right there is a handy term. You’d think someone would have thought of it before now.)