Book review: The Long War (Terry Pratchett & Stephen Baxter)

Title: The Long War
Series: The Long Earth (#2)
Authors: Terry Pratchett, Stephen Baxter
Page count: 501 pages
Rating: 3/5 stars (on Goodreads)

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*some spoilers inside, read at own risk

The Long War is part 2 of the Long Earth series, the first part of which I read almost exactly one year ago. They`re the stories of multiple universe earth (the Long Earth, with our original earth referred to as the Datum), and what happens when societies get spread out over millions of different worlds. In the first book, I loved the world building and the exploration, I loved the “oohh what are we going to find in this strange new world now”.

However, thanks to the complicated nature of the book, it was hard to pick #2 up now, a year later, and actually know what`s going on. I was confused a large part of the time. It doesn`t help that the storyline is set 10? 15? 20? years later and everyone is doing something else and some characters died. A lot of new characters are also introduced, which makes it hard to keep up with all the different storylines.

The world building was still magnificent, just amazing. It was obviously very well thought out and the writers seemed to have had a lot of fun figuring out how this is all going to work and how different people react to the  different worlds and the strange creatures on them. It does seems a bit unlikely to me that two different sapient races millions of worlds away from ours would learn English, but I get that for the book it works.

I liked the little nod to the Netherlands, saying that we didn`t have much use for the Long Earth as in most other earths our country was flooded by water.

The title of this book promises a war – there isn`t one. Not that I picked up on, at least. At the end of book 1 there are already insinuations of a massive problem that no one understands. This problem just kind of bubbles on casually throughout book 2 with no real noticeable consequences, just to have it solved within half a page near the end of book 2. I`m not even sure if the problem with the trolls is the war mentioned in the title, or if it’s the tensions between the settlers and Datum government (that also got resolved within half a page and with barely any trouble at all, which is, you know, extremely unlikely). So I still don`t know which part of the book the supposed war was. I also don`t know if the next book (The Long Mars) means people will actually go to Mars or if they`ll just look at it. I don`t know.

Either way, the end of this book was very rushed and weird, as if they wanted to get as many plots out of the way as quickly as possible so they could start the next big one. It was a bit weird and a bit unsettling and I really do wish they`d have taken more time to explain these things.

Overall, compared to the first book I`m slightly disappointed in this one. It was still intriguing, the world building was great, as was the exploring. But there was still no action, a lot of plots felt kind of useless (hopefully they`re a set up for the next books though I doubt it), and we could have done with less new characters and more focus on already established characters and their relationships.

I will probably still buy the third book, because now I want to know what happens and if maybe the writers are building up to something else. I`m also just very stubborn.

But I do recommend you only read this if you`re 1) interested in a simplistic (but well thought out) idea of the multiverse , 2)you`re okay with primarily a lot of world building and everything else is just added bonus and 3)if you can read both books right after each other.

This book was book #1 for Booktober. Book #2 is Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen. Fun fact: I`ve owned a copy of this book for more than 7 years now, as I got it  from my English teacher in high school who had old books the school library was getting rid off in his classroom that his students could take for free. 7 years, and I`ve still not read it. Shame on me. Shame. On. Me.

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