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The Long War by Terry Pratchett

The Long War

by Terry Pratchett, Stephen Baxter

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: The Long Earth (2)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
1,2305110,398 (3.4)1 / 54
A new America called Valhalla grows restless under the controlling long arm of the Datum government, while all of the Long Earth is infused by the song of the trolls who are starting to react to humanity's thoughtless exploitation, bringing humankind to the brink of war.



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English (50)  French (1)  All languages (51)
Showing 1-5 of 50 (next | show all)
4 stars for the concepts, 2 stars for the plot and characters. My rating reflects how lopsided that ratio is in the book.

I remember liking The Long Earth a lot; the premise of parallel earths and their impact on humanity was fascinating, and the exploration plot was interesting enough to make me overlook the occasional meh-level dialog. However, I realized while reading The Long War that I couldn't remember how the first book ended (which includes a major event referenced early in book 2). I realize now that I forgot because the story moved away from exploration and bigger concepts to focus on people and politics. In doing so, it shifted from examining humanity and our place in a new universe (or multiverse) to heavy-handed commentary delivered by generic characters. Unfortunately, The Long War chose to focus much more on the latter at the expense of the former.

That wouldn't have been a problem if more than a few characters were likable; for each one that offered interesting potential (former reverend Nelson, open minded Captain Kaufman, dedicated Jansson) there were several irritating caricatures taking up space (drunk Irishman Bill, nagging/jealous wife Helen, generic ignorant Republicans/marines/establishment-types). In a series built around exploring new worlds, the characters are mostly stale and boring. Boredom with both the characters and the meandering plotlines (and the notable lack of any form of "war" promised by the title) ultimately killed my interest in what began as a promising science fiction series. ( )
  swsisler | Dec 3, 2019 |
Alternate Universes can be traveled, long war ended a bit to easily and never really vot started. ( )
  scottshjefte1 | Sep 6, 2019 |

Sequel to "The Long Earth" I really wanted to like this, and I still love the setting, but I'm just not feeling this one. I think my main problem was that there were too many plot threads, which made it all a bit confusing to keep track of; in particular, I'm not sure what the point of any of Nelson's subplot was, and while the Chinese expedition subplot was interesting, it didn't really add anything. Similarly, I thought a lot of the Franklin crew's subplot was interesting but irrelevant, and in the end the whole book seemed like a bunch of good ideas randomly mashed together, without much structure.

There are a lot of things I liked: Terry Pratchett's extreme hatred of elves, everything to do with the Rectangles, the existence of the Gap space program (although that is another part that I felt could have been done without to streamline things a bit), Finn McCool, the post-scarcity philosophy stuff, "the Healed Drum", "Bosun Higgs". I thought that having this book take place several years after the first one worked well.

On the other hand, I was disappointed by the character of Helen in this book, who seems to have been reduced to only two personality traits (jealous wife and exposition fairy; as Sally says, "I’m profoundly uninterested in Helen"), and I wish they wouldn't describe how many pockets Sally had every time she appeared.

In my opinion, it would have been better to leave out several of the subplots (which could perhaps be turned into separate short stories, since they do contain some interesting world-building stuff) and tighten the whole thing up a bit, and to expend a bit more effort on giving Helen an actual personality and reason to be in the book other than to give Joshua a reason to occasionally feel conflicted.

Two more things I had issues with:

- When Maggie realised that "the Long War was over" I was confused, because I hadn't realised that the whole... Valhalla not wanting to pay taxes when they didn't receive any services thing was supposed to be the war. It wasn't even a war? I don't get it. I thought the war was the humans vs trolls thing most of the time, but even that wasn't a war because it was so one-sided. Am I missing something?

- I don't really get how the whole trolls business was resolved anyway. Lobsang's hologram asked the trolls nicely for a second chance and said "this time humans probably won't enslave you and steal your children, honest", and then suddenly the trolls were showing up at Agnes's barbecue? Why would one person saying something convince all the trolls that everything would be okay? What changed Senator Starling's mind about trolls? I don't know, I just don't think that would be enough.
( )
  tronella | Jun 22, 2019 |
I didn't like this as much as the first installment. I think they were trying to do too many things/have too many simultaneous stories going on. ( )
  joyblue | Apr 7, 2019 |
It's a bit of a letdown to realize how little of Pratchett is actually present in this book. Don't misunderstand, I enjoy Baxter as a writer, but this story felt like a meager meal after the richness of the first novel. ( )
  Ubiquitine | Nov 24, 2018 |
Showing 1-5 of 50 (next | show all)
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Terry Pratchettprimary authorall editionscalculated
Baxter, Stephenmain authorall editionsconfirmed
Shailer, RichardCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Important places
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For Lyn and Rhianna, as always

For Sandra
First words
On an alternate world, two million steps from Earth:
The troll female was called Mary by her handlers, Monica Jansson read on the rolling caption on the video clip.
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Disambiguation notice
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Canonical DDC/MDS

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Book description
The Long War by Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter follows the adventures and travails of heroes Joshua Valiente and Lobsang in an exciting continuation of the extraordinary science-fiction journey begun in their New York Times best seller The Long Earth.

A generation after the events of The Long Earth, humankind has spread across the new worlds opened up by "stepping". A new "America" - Valhalla - is emerging more than a million steps from Datum - our Earth. Thanks to a bountiful environment, the Valhallan society mirrors the core values and behaviors of colonial America. And Valhalla is growing restless under the controlling long arm of the Datum government.

Soon Joshua, now a married man, is summoned by Lobsang to deal with a building crisis that threatens to plunge the Long Earth into a war unlike any humankind has waged before.

Haiku summary
Earths strung together
Like pearls on a string. Troubles
Brew for trolls and men.

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