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William forstchen - The Lost Regiment series
Thoughts on the Lost Regiment Series
Originally, I was never much into the Alternative History genre, it always seemed a bit silly. I saw it sort of in the same light that I would look at the that would reenact battles of the Civil War. Grown people going out and pretending to fight a battle that they were going to win or lose, depending on the side.
To me, Alternative History was sort of like taking that same game and saying, let's pretend none of this happened and see what would happen.
Then a friend of my turned me on to this series of books. While not ENTIRELY alternative history, it takes it as close as I have been and then, surprisingly, whetted my appetites for more.
Discovering the series
I have already explained that I was not a fan, until a few years ago, of this genre. But that was to change when I got into a dialogue with a friend about the repercussions of changing small things in the past at key moments. One of the things that he mentioned was; "What if you could have gone back and given the Confederates the technology and designs to build an AK47 or an M16?"
Putting away the thoughts about the lack of advanced knowledge of metallurgy and the like, I did find the thought sort of interesting and we continued the discussion all the way through into the 1900s. Talking about what might be different, how the present United States would be, and how our lives would be now, if those events had transpired.
That was when he went to his bookshelf and pulled off a copy of Rally Cry for me to take home and read.
The book sat in my office for easily two or three months, and I was getting ready to give it back to my friend, telling him that I just could not find time to get to it, when I was called to Jury Duty. At the time, where I live, you had to go to the courthouse each day, from 8am to 5pm waiting to see if you were one of the lucky candidates. And while they would tell you that you are selected and called at random, it never seemed that way, since I was almost always called on late Thursday or Friday.
Being that my last name starts with a "W", you can see how that afforded me a great deal of time to sit and contemplate my navel, if it were not for my having something to read.
But I digress...
I took this book with me and started reading. By the second chapter, there was no hope for me, I was hooked. I could not put the book down to save my life, and by the end of that week, I was almost done with it when I was called into a jury and had to serve for the next two weeks. The longest weeks of my life, or so I thought at that time.
Why did they Hook me and why did I like them?
Without spoiling anything for those of you that may have not ready the series or at least not read it all the way through, I will try to convey the things about the story line that I liked and what I think drew me into the world that William created with this series.
I think the easiest way to do this would be to break it down by the point I look for in a book or series.
I think this is the most important part of a story to all of us. The people in the story, people that we need to identify with, hate, feel sorry for, despise, loath, etc...
These books have not just characters in them, but you end up seeing them as people. Almost like you WERE reading a historic record of something that happened at some time in the past. You not only see them as parts of the book, but William builds on them and weaves them into the stories in such a way that they each stand on their own, apart from the others.
There is a part in one of the later books where one of the key people in the book is burned badly. You feel for him and what he is going through, and even though you know that they are a character in the book, you find yourself thinking about them when not reading, saying things like, "Man, if he had just did this instead of that!" Like you would, were you talking about someone you might know or work with.
William does a wonderful job of keeping the secondary, tertiary and background characters important to the story as well, somehow making sure that some of them stay relevant even though they may only appear in one or two paragraphs. This, too, adds a level of depth to the story that ,makes them all that much more enjoyable.
When I read a story, really ANY story, there is a part of my mind that maps out where things are and how the world is laid out. Sometimes this is easier because the places that are talked about are real and some of them I may have even been to.
For example, Larry Niven's "Lucifer's Hammer" has a large part of the story taking place in parts of California that I am very familiar with. So when they talk about them, I can see where they are and what is happening.
With this series, William created an alien world, inhabited it with both humans and aliens, almost no technology and then added a group of people that were transplanted, against their will, across time and space to a place that they had to make their own.
As the story develops, you see the effect that the new arrivals have on the world and watch the transformation of the people that were there and of the cities and landscape. And this develops more and more with the completion of each book.
There are many aspects of these stories that remind me of the worlds that Tolkien created. They are rich, inviting and something that you welcome when you start reading the next book in the series.
THE STORY FLOW
Most people that ready religiously know what I am talking about.
Williams stories flow. Each book flows into the next and does not leave you going back to the previous book to look for where it left off so that you do not feel lost going into the next one.
There have been some books that when you transition from one to the next in the series, you are left with a bit of shell-shock trying to remember where you left off. And then you start picking it up after a few paragraphs. This is not something I enjoy having to deal with. It is like that feeling you have when you step off a plane in a strange airport and you only have ten minutes to get to your connecting flight. Lost, rushed, maybe a little panicked, and then you eventually find your way. This is not something you run into with this series.
Do you have a different opinion of The Lost Regiment series?
Tell me what you think about what I have had to say.