Read In the Balance by Harry Turtledove Online


War seethed across the planet. Machines soared through the air, churned through the seas, crawled across the surface, pushing ever forward, carrying death. Earth was engaged in titanic struggle. Germany, Russia, France, China, Japan: the maps were changing day by day. The hostilities spread in ever-widening ripples of destruction: Britain, Italy, Africa...The fate of the wWar seethed across the planet. Machines soared through the air, churned through the seas, crawled across the surface, pushing ever forward, carrying death. Earth was engaged in titanic struggle. Germany, Russia, France, China, Japan: the maps were changing day by day. The hostilities spread in ever-widening ripples of destruction: Britain, Italy, Africa...The fate of the world hung in the balance. Then the real enemy came. Out of the dark of night, out of the soft glow of dawn, out of the clear blue sky came an invasion force the likes of which Earth had never known - and worldwar was truly joined. The invaders were inhuman and they were unstoppable. Their technology was far beyond our reach, and their goal was simple. Fleetlord Atvar had arrived to claim Earth for the Empire. Never before had Earth's people been more divided. Never had the need for unity been greater. And grudgingly, inexpertly, humanity took up the challenge. In this epic novel of alternate history, Harry Turtledove takes us around the globe. We roll with German panzers; watch the coast of Britain with the RAF; and welcome alien-liberators to the Warsaw ghetto. In tiny planes we skim the vast Russian steppe, and we push the envelope of technology in secret labs at the University of Chicago. Turtledove's saga covers all the Earth, and beyond, as mankind - in all its folly and glory - faces the ultimate threat; and a turning point in history shows us a past that never was and a future that could yet come to be......

Title : In the Balance
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780345420565
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 465 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

In the Balance Reviews

  • Stephen
    2019-03-27 19:32

    3.5 stars. This is Book 1 of Harry Turtledove’s massive alternate history WW2 epic and I will say at the outset that I definitely enjoyed this enough to go on to the next book. I was really torn between 3 and 4 stars on this one as I loved the premise and the set up but there were some slow parts that were less than compelling. I decided it was either going to be a very strong 3 or a weak 4. I ended up going with a strong 3 since the first book in the series and I wanted to give the next book room to improve. As for the plot, my lead in picture really says it all. The premise is simple and spectacular. In late 1941, after World War II has raged for over 2 years and armies form almost every nation are fighting all across the globe, the Earth is suddenly invaded by an alien army called The Race. Here are the basics:1. Expectations: The aliens sent probes to Earth in preparation for the invasion but the latest information they had was from over 800 years ago (around 1100 A.D.). Since The Race is hundreds of thousands of years old and has hardly advanced technologically for millennia, they did not expect any change in the Earth’s level of technology in only 8 centuries. When they see how far Earth has advanced they are more than a little pissed. 2. Technology: Despite their faulty intelligence on Earth’s level of technology, the aliens are still vastly superior to man in that department. I would describe them as similar to what the United States is today. They have the equivalent of modern jet fighters, modern tanks, automatic weapons….PLUS ATOMIC BOMBS. However, they were expecting to be up against horse-riding knights in armor and so things are not as comfortable for them as they had hoped. Basically, we have more guns and bullets but theirs are MUCH BIGGER and we have much better ability to adapt and improvise.3. Alliances: The most interesting element of the story is the alliances that form once the invasion begins. At the time of the invasion, you have Hitler and Stalin go at it in the east, the Japanese have just bombed pearl harbor and London is in flames. Now all of a sudden, you have Hitler, Stalin, Churchill, Roosevelt, Yamamoto, Mussolini and their senior personnel having to work together. It makes for some wonderful tension to the story. At the same time, you have the some groups like the Polish Jews in Warsaw and the Chinese from Manchuria who first see the aliens as liberators against the Nazis and Imperial Japan. All of this creates such a wonderful dynamic and the author does a very credible job of investing the stories with real life. I am only really scratching the surface here but I think the above is enough to give you the gist of the plot and the kind of story that the author was trying to write. This is an attempt at a credible, historically realistic “what if” that tries to make the fantastic element (alien invasion) appear plausible. I think the author took an incredibly difficult premise and succeeded, for the most part, in telling a very compelling story. This leads me to my final comment about expectations going into the story. I think you will enjoy the story more if you are coming to it as a World War II historical fiction story that happens to include aliens added on for spice. Alternatively, if you approach this as a typical SF alien invaders story with World War II added as backdrop, you may be disappointed by the level of historical detail and the pace of the plot. This is a massive World War II story that will cover 4 volumes of which this is only the first book. All told, the 4 installments will span some 2500+ pages so be prepared for detail and well developed plot lines. RECOMMENDED!!

  • Mike (the Paladin)
    2019-04-03 00:12

    This book sucked me in. It was such a good idea and the opening of the book was done so well....The idea behind this book is wonderful almost inspired.(view spoiler)[ A race of extremely long lived aliens who received their last intelligence of the human race about the time humans were leaving what is called the bronze age arrive here expecting humans to be about as developed technologically as they had been at that time. After all the reptilian invaders take thousands of years to move forward...with their idea of time it's no big deal. So when they arrive during World War II and find a relatively technological people...already at war and slugging the snot out of each other they're a bit, surprised. It doesn't help as the humans turn their weapons on the invaders. (hide spoiler)] It's a fantastic idea. Maybe someday someone will use it to write a good novel. How long before they'd be legally safe? Alas, after coming up with this gem of an idea Turtledove shifts the focus to a plot that I suppose we'd call "the soap opera". Our focus instead of closing in on the invaders strategy and the geopolitical implications of the Allies and Axis having to repel this incursion settles on some of the individuals involved. We get involved in the life of a missing scientist who's wife thinks he might be dead and can't wait to fall in love and marry...err, I mean "remarry" wow. I suspect a lot of women during WWII waited longer on the home front than this woman did to see if her husband was alive. She's quick to fall for her new man. When her husband the scientist inconveniently shows back up he goes sort of crazy when he finds out....Want to hear more? Maybe about aliens checking out the sex lives of humans? There's more...some more good ideas, some more one star story lines.Yeah, you get the idea. It could have been a good book. I give it 2 stars because the idea was great and it stared out really well....before it crashed and burned.You know...two stars is a gift. I've decided to drop it to 1 star. The fact I liked the opening and find the idea excellent doesn't change the fact that as the book developed it kicked me in the teeth. This another sad example of a "might have been" novel.As noted, I'd like to see someone take this idea and actually write a good military science fiction/alternate history novel. Maybe someday someone will. Dropped to 1 star.

  • Nick
    2019-03-28 21:22

    Harry Turtledove writes great outlines of stories. Where he fails is filling a book with the meaty stuff that constitutes a compelling story. He does it once again here. Great idea for a story - an alien invasion of Earth around the time of WWII. After the aliens invade, the countries of the world must put aside their animosity toward each other and unify to throw back the alien threat. I love it. But Harry just doesn't give you enough to care about what happens. All of the historical figures are cardboard cutouts of their historical persona. None of the regular citizens of Earth are in any way interesting. The aliens aren't even that interesting quite frankly. There are some cool battle scenes but that's about it. Pedestrian alternative history fiction. Skip it.

  • Ben Babcock
    2019-04-21 01:15

    Without a doubt the Second World War is one of the most influential and significant events to occur in the past hundred years. The scope of this war was magnified and bigger than ever in every way: in the countries involved, in the technology and tactics developed and deployed, and in the atrocities committed. And so World War II has seared itself onto the collective consciousness of our species as something never to be forgotten. It was a watershed time, and it acted as a catalyst for some of the most dramatic changes in our society. Were it not for World War II, the twentieth century would have progressed differently—but exactly how that might have happened isn’t necessarily straightforward. No doubt that’s why World War II is such a powerful lure for authors of alternate history.Alternate history, of course, is kind of Harry Turtledove’s thing. He’s written enough of it—and in sufficient quality—to be called “the Master of Alternate History” by some critics. Such titles do not get bestowed lightly. Yet my own recent experience with Turtledove left me less than lukewarm. I kept Worldwar on my list, though, because I have vague memories from when I was younger of reading another book about Lizard-like aliens called the Race on Earth—I suspect it was part of Turtledove’s Colonization trilogy. So I decided to go back to where the series begin: World War II, 1941, with the Race arriving in orbit to make Earth the fourth world in its stultifying empire.They find this a tad difficult, because their 800-year-old intelligence is out of date. They were expecting to be facing armoured knights, swords, maybe some extremely primitive forms of gunpowder-based weaponry. Unlike the Race, however, which thinks in terms of millennia and changes even more slowly, humanity advances in fits and starts. In 800 years we’ve managed to get to the point where we are speculating about nuclear weapons. And none of this bodes well for the Race’s invasion fleet.Turtledove tells his story through a large cast of characters from around the world. First, props to Turtledove for including a Chinese character. We spent a lot of time in World War II in Grade 10 history, and it was admittedly Canadian-centric for a good reason. But you know what? I know almost nothing about China during World War II. I knew that Japan invaded, but that was it. So as someone who recognizes this gap in my knowledge but was a little too lazy to do anything more than look it up on Wikipedia, I commend Turtledove for including this perspective, as limited as it might be.Juggling so many characters can be challenging, both for the author and for the reader. I kept wanting to follow some of the characters for longer periods of time—and of course, there were a few I would be happy never to see again. Also, with so many different characters, their voices start to sound the same. I don’t really question Turtledove’s decision to include such a large cast—it’s about the only way he could cover so much territory—but the price is a narrative that, at times, is very flat. Combined with what I feel is a somewhat indulgent length, this means that Worldwar: In the Balance is not necessarily a smooth read. However, depending on your own tastes, there could be a few mitigating factors.Firstly, of course, there’s how much you’re interested in World War II. Turtledove had obviously done his research. He provides a glimpse into the wartime operations along various fronts: Britain, France, Russia, China, and the United States. Even though the war itself gets put on hold to fight the alien threat, this is still a world where the war is happening, with all the attendant nationalistic impulses, cultural enmities, and political tensions. Those are what make the temporary alliances between, say, Russia and Germany, so fascinating.I have to confess I’m not all that into World War II, either its history or its non-history. I recognize its significance as an event and will read the occasional book set during it, but it’s not exactly a setting I seek out. It’s difficult to articulate my reasons for this, although I am sure it is partly the result of how meticulous true World War II fans are about their details. I’m not a details person when it comes to history; I like the grand, sweeping, political intrigue of it all. Give me a king marrying six women in succession, and we’ll tango.Secondly, Worldwar: In the Balance is very much still a story of war, even if it’s no longer the same war. Instead of Allies versus Nazis, it’s humans versus the Race. I have to admit that I’m rather disappointed with the armament the Race brought: their technology seems only marginally superior to the stuff the humans are using. This is a species that can cross the gaps between stars at half the speed of light! Sure, I understand that their pace of technological innovation is slower than humanity’s—but even so, we tend to assume that anyone who has managed feasible interstellar travel is going to have better technology than bullets, tanks, and helicopters. Turtledove has set up what makes for the most interesting fight instead of what is perhaps the most plausible scenario from a science-fiction standpoint.Finally, Worldwar: In the Balance ends on a cliffhanger. There is no resolution to the overall conflict. This disappointed me, after over 500 dense pages of incredibly detailed descriptions and back and forth. I really could have used a nice denouement: not necessarily something that ties up every loose end, but enough for the work to stand alone. As it is, I probably will read the sequel—but not any time soon, and probably not before I try another Turtledove series that might be more to my liking. Still, if cliffhangers entice you, this book might be a nice match.These factors combined to tempt me to dismiss this book. Little of its content or characterization grabs me or my interests. Yet, objectively speaking, it isn’t that bad. As a work of alternate history both its premise and its execution offer a compelling story: really, what would have happened if an alien threat arrived while we were in the middle of World War II? How would the Allies, the Nazis, Russia, and Japan have reacted? And really, how would the aliens react if they were expecting a much different Earth than the one they got? In a way that reminds me of Jared Diamond’s Guns, Germs, and Steel, Turtledove engages in fascinating speculation as to how Earth’s topology and climate influenced the rapid development of our species vis-à-vis the more sedate pace of the Race. Does our tendency for conflict—not to mention our ability to love—give us an edge? By raising such questions, both explicitly and implicitly, Turtledove elevates Worldwar: In the Balance from a mere “what if” story to a work that truly represents the nature of alternate history. I cannot say I loved this book, but neither can I deny its power or its presence as a work of speculative fiction.

  • James
    2019-04-01 02:25

    The beginning of one of the best alternate history/science fiction sagas around - in this story, World War II is interrupted when an alien invasion fleet shows up to disrupt the human war, forcing the countries to postpone their war with each other to combine forces against the aliens. A large cast of characters, both real historical figures including politicians, soldiers and scientists, and fictional people; extensive period detail showing meticulous research and a real love of history on the author's part; and a believable but not predictable plot.

  • Shelly
    2019-03-25 02:14

    Parts of this I really liked but it was sooooooo long that I kept getting antsy for the plot to move along. The story is set up as an alternative history where aliens invade the Earth right at the height of World War 2. I think the way Mr. Turtledove ties in all of the various warring countries into new factions based on the invasion is excellent. There were just so many point of view characters and so much going on that I never got a sense of momentum to the story. It was good and I am curious to see what happens next but I might wait awhile before reading book two.

  • Allie
    2019-04-22 23:38

    I found this book hard to get into, and never really forged any sort of attachment with it until the last 150 or so pages. The characters seemed at times more like devices to demonstrate 'ideas', for want of a better word, rather than robust, developed characters. This is the nature of the book and, to some extent, the genre, however. I probably didn't enjoy it as much as other people for this reason, the military aspects not really grabbing my attention, and the political interactions and aspects perhaps a bit too simplistic. Despite having pushed myself to finish it, I have no real inclination to read the rest of the series. I'd like to follow up with Barbara and Jens Larsson, Liu Han and Bobby Fiore, but definitely wouldn't trawl through another book in order to do so! Unfortunately the ending very much leads into the next book rather than allowing it to stand alone.

  • Jordan
    2019-04-10 03:16

    This is a nice mix of historical fiction/counter factual history and sci-fi. Harry Turtledove is good at mixing the genres, but he makes a few minor mistakes (i.e. inaccurate military references). If you are able to ignore these mistakes (which most people probably wouldn't pick up on anyway) this is a well written series. It is a commitment though as it takes a while to read.

  • Ahmed
    2019-04-08 03:34

    Review of the First and Second books.This series, I imagine, is self-consciously styled after Tolstoy's "War and Peace".Also, it is not the sort of series where a book can stand alone and provide any sort of meaningful conclusion. The "Balance" is just one big book, broken for length, not plot.The "Balance" is the story of a war, drawn out across several years and numerous characters. The war is WWII, with the added twist of an alien invasion midway through. So, it is an alternate-history novel with a science-fiction twist.This bears repeating: the science-fiction component is just a twist. The aliens psychology is anthropomorphic, and they even look quite humanoid (despite being egg-laying lizard-like beings!). The realization of technical details is a little shoddy. Also, the historical development of technology is mixed up in certain places. Things get shoddier as the series advances, too.One example of shoddy technological history, I think, is the conspicuous use of audio recording as a plot device in the first and second books. This is historically inaccurate, as the first audio tapes were developed in Nazi Germany toward the end of WWII, and used to record Hitler, then broadcast his speeches so he wouldn't have to be at the radio station. Later, they were adopted by US radio stations. Before that, audio recording quality was sub-par and quite recognizably not-live.The characterization is good, but not outstanding, and a few characters are practically interchangeable. More variety here would have been welcome.In the second book, characterizations gets derailed even more. Worse luck.The pace is rather slow, drawn out, really, even stretched thin in certain parts. Every now and then, skipping a few pages (representing one character's PoV) is quite OK. The situation is even worse in the second book.Overall, OK. I think I'll need to read more before forming a more definitive judgement; like War and Peace, this is really one giant novel split apart for convenience. Unlike War and Peace (which I'd never read), I think this one gets old and crappy rather quickly...

  • David
    2019-04-15 02:25

    An interesting premise...reptilian aliens invading earth in the middle of WWII. But there is a definite lack of authorial skill at work here. Characters, plotting, story, dramatic incident are all flat and predictable. Dialogue is the worst kind of popular tripe. In the end it was a painful challenge just to finish the book.I gave it two stars rather than one because the premise was amusing. If the writing had spent more time on constructing characters and fleshing out these I would have given it three. Needs an editor badly. This is a shame because I was looking forward to the series. Not recommended

  • Jim Prevott
    2019-04-09 19:20

    for the audioook. Good alt history start. Alien invasion interrupts WWII. The aliens equipped with advanced technology make amazing progress until the former foes band together to figure the common enemy. it's a fairly long book that follows several storylines of both famous historical figures and common people on both sides. First book in the series.

  • Bryan Alexander
    2019-04-02 03:39

    An entertaining alternate history, _Worldwar I_ shows the pleasures and limitations of the genre.It's simply fun to follow the working-out of implications and details, once the divergence (alien invasion) appears. Will underground movements ally with the new invaders? How will Axis and Allied nations join to stop the initially overwhelming foe? How do various historical characters appear: Patton, Molotov, Churchill? The invasion's conceit (aliens scoped us out centuries ago, and thereby didn't plan for 1940s technology) is entertaining.The book uses a social novel approach, portraying dozens of characters in many plots To his credit Turtledove embraces the global nature of the second World War. Characters are drawn from rural America and China, British intelligence and Soviet fliers, Japanese military and Nazi tankers, Jewish fighters and exiles. The aliens are somewhat interesting. Their culture has a single organizing idea, which becomes implausible over time. Some characters gradually emerge.But the limitations... It's hard to do a social novel and have individual characters emerge. Think of how _The Wire_ gives as a rich, multilayered view of Baltimore, while most characters appear as distinct people. In contrast _Worldwar_'s characters are often thin perspectives, mobile optics giving us a quick sketch of what they see without developing much of an inner life.This thinness leads to a failure of historical imagination. Most of the characters are or become nice people. Some start with racist ideas, which they shed through conversation. There aren't many true believers to represent Naziism, the Japanese empire, American white racism, or the Soviet Union. We can see progressive ideas unfold, but not the concepts they react against. Some representatives appear from time to time but only as placeholders, non-player characters in gaming language._Worldwar_ also struggles to depict the impact of large historical events. Turtledove does a good job with individual scenes, like conversations in occupied Paris or the adventures of a German tank crew. But we don't get a sense of the vast horror that would accompany, say, (view spoiler)[the nuclear destruction of Berlin and Washington, DC (hide spoiler)]. The weirdness and disorientation of first contact doesn't really appear, beyond a couple of characters being readers of Astounding. I'd contrast this, perhaps unfairly, with the way _The English Patient_'s main characters react to the atomic bombing of Hiroshima, or the way Vonnegut establishes the horror of Dresden in _Slaughterhouse-Five_. Many of _Worldwar_'s events pass by like references to other books.So: a fun book for alt.history buffs, but not much more.

  • Mark
    2019-04-17 19:12

    If the sentence "Aliens invade during World War II" doesn't make you want to read a book, then there is nothing more I can add.I would have filed this under three stars, guilty pleasure sort of thing, except for one thing that's not the particular book's fault: the eBook copy I purchased through B&N is one of the worst I have ever seen for typographical mistakes. These are all small things, but numerous, approaching and perhaps passing one per page.The mistakes include things like extraneous punctuation "." "," or quotes, or missing punctuation, like no "." at the end of what's clearly a sentence because the next word is capitalized. Other times, a word is rendered with the wrong spelling; for instance, "Germany" became "Gennany" (just once or twice), and in the same way "door" might appear once as "cloor". These nuisance mistakes abound. I can only conclude that no human being ever laid eyes on the manuscript in the process from transferring it into eBook form, because if this many mistakes were present in a paper book as it went to press, anyone involved would be fired.I can appreciate, from a cost perspective, that there's not likely to be a strong return on porting a random obscure niche genre book from 1994 into eBook form, but if that's the case I would just have to say to the publisher: don't do it! Let it lie in the dustbin, or if it's being treated cheaply then sell it cheaply. If this book cost a dollar, I wouldn't complain about nuisance typographical mistakes no matter the quantity. At $8, I paid full paperback price for second-class work.Oh well. A fun enough read, but I don't like it enough to spend money on the rest of the series when I assume they will have the same quality of electronic transfer. I'll have to be more careful and view the free samples first in the future.

  • Michael Atkinson
    2019-04-06 22:33

    I've read alternate history series before, where the point of divergence is something like Lee winning the Battle of Gettysburg, or JFK not being assassinated. Here, the point of divergence is what would have happened if alien lizards invade during World War Two. ....okay then. Granting that premise, this is an interesting opener to an interesting series. The catch is that the alien lizards expected humankind to evolve and develop as slowly as they did, and the last time they checked on humanity was in the 12th century, when we had bows and arrows and knights on horseback. So they come back with their jet engines and bullets, and they expect to still be fighting knights on horseback, because how much could a civilization change in a mere eight hundred years? Oops. Needless to say, the Lizards are in much for a harder fight than they expected. An interesting premise, and I'm looking forward to seeing how it plays out.

  • Chip
    2019-03-26 19:16

    Having read the second in this series inadvertently first, I went back to enjoy the beginning and some of the detail I was missing. Again, Turtledove has created a wildly expansive book about multiple fronts of World War II. Our enemy is a powerfully alien race here to conquer the human race. Faced with superior technology, German, Russian, Japanese, Chinese, Polish, American, British come up with unique ways to attack the naive Race. We get exposed to soldiers, generals, world leaders, scientists and general people all dealing with this war. This book just gets the story started for what seems to be an epic tale.

  • Don
    2019-04-07 23:33

    I really wanted to like this - I usually enjoy alternative history stuff. But I found the pace too slow for my liking and it spent more time coming back to points than I cared to read. Yes, we get it, the invaders are put off by our pace of technological advancement. Showing me that would be fine, but too much telling.It made me sufficiently curious to know how it wound up but not enough to slog through 3 more books. The summaries on wikipedia satisfied my curiosity and freed me up to read things I actively enjoy.

  • Joel
    2019-03-24 03:20

    Excellent book by an excellent author. Turtledove isn't afraid to approach sensitive subjects--in any of his novels. This one is no exception.Foraging through the fascinating accounts of war and conflict, Turtledove presents this novel in a way that the reader can also interpret human nature from a different perspective. And again as in "Guns of the South" he does his research. He finds the tiny pebbles of often ignored history and facts, and builds a dam with them. But instead of holding back water, the dam constructed by Turtledove, is suspense.

  • James
    2019-04-16 02:15

    565 pages of build up to a climax that starts in the sequel. The aliens in this book were not portrayed as fearsome or dominant which makes it seem even more unrealistic for them to be competent of distant space travel. I've liked some of Turtledove's other works but this one is pretty bland all the way through. I will not be reading the 2nd book.

  • Don
    2019-04-19 20:27

    Very well thought out beginning to this 4-book cycle. I appreciated the global quality of the multiple viewpoints and story lines. Turtledove does a great job tailoring the characters to their geographical settings (U.S., Britain, Germany, Russia, China). I found myself very interested in each character's story-line and finished the novel ready to read the next book.

  • Weylin
    2019-04-15 19:34

    Beside some half decent battle scenes, this book seemed to be chalked full of pointless dialogue and characters that are bland tools for the author to progress his story and ideas. I wanted so much more from the premise this story presented, but I had to give up after 275 pages.

  • Justin Robinson
    2019-03-22 23:20

    A fun take on one of my favorite tropes from fiction, namely that human beings are a terrifying warrior race. A great melding of SF and history too.

  • Vincent Van Dyck
    2019-04-12 23:11


  • Neil
    2019-03-31 03:27

    [Some] thots while reading:I had forgotten how much repetition there is in the novel. The author keeps making the same comments over and over and over [like Planes that did that quite simply never came back]. I cannot quite decide if the author has forgotten what he had written previously, or if the thinks the reader is dumb enough to forget what he said. Granted, there is a lot of pages and a lot of words and a lot of 'stuff' happens in the novel, but it is still distracting to come across the same phrase [or comment or whathaveyou] multiple times.Another 'well-used' phrase is "Hot water was impossible to come by, and bathing in cold invited pneumonia." So far this first book seems to take place primarily in winter - it is odd, though, because mention is made of the Japanese having attacked Pearl Harbor, so it implies it's probably 1942, yet comments are made about it being the fall, which would put it at fall into winter of 1942 on into 1943.It is interesting how the author has kept 'religious beliefs' in the novel. I would say that having aliens invade Earth would indicate that monotheism is incorrect, but that is neither here nor there. The author does a reasonable job trying to accommodate religious beliefs [primarily those of the Jewish race] in regard to aliens appearing and invading.This series reminds me of Ringo's Legacy of the Aldenata series [in which a race of omnivorous aliens invade the Earth and Earth still manages to defeat them in the end, in a matter of speaking]. In each series, the author has to make some assumptions to allow humanity to have a chance at not only surviving but winning the overall conflict. In the case in this series, the technological level of the invading aliens [in terms of military technology] is set at the equivalent of Gulf War weapons/vehicles versus Earth's technological level during World War II. Personally, I think it works.It was amusing to me how both Atvar and Patton indicated that the end of the war, the fate of the world, was 'in the balance' due to the success of strategies employed by each military group [race].-------------------------------------------------------------It was a decent read. I had forgotten how 'big' the book is. At over four hundred pages, it is a chunk to read. Like most books of this size, it moves at a good pace in some parts and is slow in other parts. It covers most of a year, I would say [between 1942 and 1943]. It seems to mostly focus on the fall and winter months, it seemed like to me.I had forgotten about the amount of relatively graphic sex in the book. Not saying it was pornographic in nature, but it was fairly graphic. I will probably sound like a prude or something for saying this, but I felt it did not need to be graphic to keep the story going [in fact, I felt the majority of the 'sex scenes' were unnecessary, but there you go]. In most respects, I do not think 'sex scenes' are necessary in a story to make the story interesting or to keep it going, but that is my opinion.The book obviously focuses on specific regions of the Earth during this now defense against an alien invasion. It focuses on Britain, Germany [to a limited extent], Poland, Russia, the United States, and China. The Japanese are mentioned somewhat in passing, as are the Italians. I thought the author did a decent job revealing 'facts' about the alien invaders as the story progressed instead of providing the reader with something like an excerpt from an encyclopedia. It was amusing to read how the aliens had a hard time with different facets of humanity because the two races were so alien. I also found it interesting that the Race [the invaders] had conquered two other races, and that those other two races were similar enough to the Race that the Race assumed all life developed along the same lines as they did [super, giant chameleons]. One thing, though, is that all of the illustrations of the alien invaders portray them as being either humanoid iguanas or humanoid lizards whereas my mind sees them as being humanoid chameleons [especially when the author describes the eye turrets on the aliens and how they move; cannot help but see chameleons there].The book covers a lot of territory [no pun intended], and there is a lot of conversation throughout the book. There is action, but the action is few and far inbetween. For being a book about an interstellar invasion and the Earth being at a level of technology capable of defending itself against said invasion, there is very little battle scenes that are described in the book.Perhaps tomorrow I will have more to say about this book. I enjoyed it; I thought it was well-done [overall]. It certainly is an ambitious project [one that would eventually encompass eight books total in the series]. I do wish he had described battles or even skirmishes in other lands / countries / territories. I think it would have been interesting to read, despite how much it would have expanded the focus.The ending of the book is a 'cliff hanger' and forces the reader to delve into the second book [and the rest of the series] to 'see what happens next.' It is not a standalone book [which infuriated me the first time I read it; I had to wait for the second volume to become available in order to find out what happened next].What did I like:I liked the Russian biplane used throughout the book. (view spoiler)[I liked how this simple vehicle/aircraft survived time and time again when more advanced machinery [aircraft] were shot down by the Race. It was like the Race considered the biplane to be beneath their notice, so they ignored it to their detriment. I thought it was a great concept, myself. (hide spoiler)]I enjoyed reading about General's Patton and Bradley in the novel. (view spoiler)[They do not appear until the end, when the Americans attack the Race's army around Chicago and try to encircle it. Patton's plan was 'brilliant', especially how they were waiting for a good snowstorm to launch their attack. I liked how they managed to bring in so much equipment and hide it in and around the suburbs of Chicago in order to wait for the right moment to attack. I thought it was one of the better moments of the novel.I also enjoyed the comment [discussion] about how logistics are what makes and breaks an army. It would have taken an incredible amount of logistics for the U.S. Army to build up the amount of forces that they did, and they utilized it to great advantage against the Lizards. I also liked how the Americans used the newly-designed Bazooka to great effect against the Lizard tanks and other armored vehicles. It was kind of interesting to me, the amount of success the rockets had against the Lizard armor, considering how 'unsuccessful' the American armor was in facing the Lizard tanks. Actually, the Germans and Russians had limited success [practically nil] when facing off against the lizard armor as well. It was crazy when General Patton was discussing how a twelve-to-one ratio [twelve American tanks killed for every Lizard tank] was considered acceptable. Absolutely crazy! (hide spoiler)]I found myself pulling for Jens Larssen. (view spoiler)[He found himself volunteering for a dangerous mission in which he succeeded beyond anyone's expectations, including his own. He managed to safely cross several states [including those occupied by the Lizards] to meet up with General Marshall in order to garner help/protection for the Metallurgical Lab. It was his fault for choosing to leave his beautiful wife and go on this dangerous mission, but nobody foresaw how long he would be gone, how long he would be separated from his wife. It was horrible. (view spoiler)[What made it even worse was how the author tried to create a 'love triangle' by having Barbara, Jens' wife, become involved with Sam Yeager after they screw each other after a Lizard attack. I hated how the author did this and felt it detracted from the overall story. (hide spoiler)] A part of me still wishes that Jens had never left his wife behind, had never gone on that mission. I know it's stupid, as I have read the novel more than once, but I still wish it had not happened.(hide spoiler)]Sam Yeager. I liked him as a character (view spoiler)[right up to the point where he has sex with Barbara after they survive a Lizard attack. Intellectually I know the two of them were supposed to be so grateful to be alive and she found Sam as attractive as he found her that it made it 'excusable' for the two of them to end up having sharing a passionately adulterous moment, but it still bugged me. Perhaps if she had already assumed and been convinced her husband was dead, it would have been one thing, but that's not the direction in which the author chose to go. Ah, well. (hide spoiler)] I still like him as a character. I loved that he loved science fiction stories and read them every chance he could get. I loved that he was an 'everyman' trying to make ends meet and live one day at a time; I loved that he had an opportunity of greatness presented to him (view spoiler)[a la the Lizard soldiers the Americans had captured (hide spoiler)] and he grabbed onto that opportunity with both hands.It has been a while since I last read this book, and I enjoyed it more this time than I had the previous times I read it. I am glad I re-read it.

  • C.C. Yager
    2019-04-11 00:23

    Harry Turtledove definitely spins a plausible tale of alternate history and I especially liked that he included the aliens' perspectives on earth and humanity. But I couldn't wait to get through this book, and I doubt I'll read the sequels. I guess my taste in fiction doesn't really include epics of the sort that a list of characters is necessary at the beginning, and even then I had trouble for at least half the book keeping them and their stories straight. There were just too many concurrent plots. I wondered often if Turtledove couldn't have achieved the same effect with maybe about 5 fewer. I liked the plot set in Warsaw a lot, and I liked the Jens Larssen plot. I also liked the Atvar story because it gave an interesting overview of mindset and strategy that the aliens possessed as well as the intrigue and power struggles among them. And it was actually rather hilarious that ginger had such a powerful effect on the aliens. Humanity uniting, however uncomfortably, to fight the aliens was quite plausible, and I liked that there was still a lot of friction between old enemies who were fighting a common foe. So, it was OK. I can say I've read Harry Turtledove. His prose at times shone. I can imagine a reader who loved history and novels with an overabundance of subplots functioning as plot lines might really enjoy this novel and its sequels. I'm moving on to something else.

  • Christopher
    2019-04-05 00:37

    It's been a while since I read a Turtledove and I'm reminded why enjoy his books. They tend to be overlong but not boring. They're not tension filled but have enough compelling characters in a variety of situations within his alt-history context that you want to revisit their POV chapters. This opening volume of his "Worldwar" series is no exception.Aliens decide to invade Earth during height of WWII but the Aliens's intel is out of date and instead of finding medieval-era populations that would be easy to subjugate, they find fully mobilized industrial states. The aliens have superior technology but lack advanced tactics and are cut off from resupply (being so far from home).The humans still continue their war but find an increasing need to shift alliances in interesting ways (example: many Jews ally with the invaders against their Nazi oppressors, and who can blame them?). Turtledove does a good job of portraying the aliens as appropriately alien (lizard-like) but sometimes he has them speak in all-too-familar idioms that don't fit at all. But the prospect of Molotov negotiating on board an alien spacecraft and espousing Marx, Engels, and Lenin to a bunch of aliens is just too much fun.

  • M. Tenenbaum
    2019-04-04 19:32

    Could not help but think of the TNT series "Falling Skies" when reading this book. The series depicts a northeastern family and their travails fighting lizard-like invaders. Here Turtledove takes it global and the nations of planet Earth (Tosev 3 according to the Lizards) temporarily (?) ceases fighting one another and unites against the Lizards. Unlikely relationships develop: Germans with Russians, a Jew fighting alongside a Nazi, etc. Several really good and connecting storylines permeate the book and make me want to read the next and the next in this series (Worldwar) and then the next series (Colonization). This one book has hooked me.One big complaint: MANY typos. Quite surprising to have run across this.

  • Geoff Battle
    2019-04-03 23:13

    Turtledove has created a niche market all to himself through his alternate-history novels. In The Balance sees the start of a grand war on Earth between humans and an invasion force from the stars. What makes this so original is the setting: World War II. Subsequently, In The Balance is a thought-provoking, well crafted and fresh approach to sci-fi. At times it gets bogged down with too much detail and the sheer number of characters, all with central plot lines, which make it hard work to keep up at times. Turtledove skillfully ensures we keep track, without too much redundant narrative though. In conclusion, In The Balance is a heavy read at times and underneath is an interesting and certainly epic read.

  • Jarrod
    2019-04-03 02:30

    I have always been a fan of Harry Turtledove's work. This was a re-read, as I believe the Worldwar series was my first introduction to his particular brand of Alternate History.I find that few people are able to fully flesh out a character as Mr. Turtledove, and the idea behind The Race has influenced a lot of my own thinking of aliens, etc.I think this is quite possibly, the only World War II counterfactual that does not suppose Hitler winning, etc., but poses, "What if aliens invaded during World War II?" An exceptionally unique take on the matter which leads to a much more interesting idea of what could the world be like after the war...if there is an after the war?

  • Richard
    2019-04-18 20:15

    Turtledove likes refighting WWII with twists. He makes what if fun to read and think about.This set of 4 or 5 or 8 books (it can be followed by the Colonization series and topped with Homeward Bound) makes for a long but easy to follow read.The first work, "In he Balance" has Earth invaded at just the time when the human race could give the slightly more advanced (militaristically) foe a real struggle.A good read.

  • Denes House
    2019-04-12 00:24

    Fascinating premise, but a LONG execution. The combat and strategy bits seem very true to life and insightful, but there’s way too much of a focus on sex for my tastes. Still, the idea of an alternate history of WWII in which the Allies and the Axis have to join together to fend off an invasion from space is a fun and interesting concept. And I liked how carefully drawn the alien culture is, even if it seems way too narrow for an actual, living species to be.