An Intriguing Concept. | BookishFirst

An Intriguing Concept.

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As someone who is not at all acquainted with Khoury but who is very well acquainted with the books this has been compared to—namely, "The Man in the High Castle" and "Fatherland"—I think it's safe to assume that this book is nothing like those based on what I have read so far. Both Philip K. Dick and Robert Harris propose futures where Germany and its allies prevailed in World War II, and both of those other books are concerned with ethics and identity under a brittle Reich. Khoury's "Empire of Lies" goes much further back in time, to the time of the Polish-Ottoman War of 1683 to 1699, and proposes a reverse conquest of Europe. As an alternate history, it has more in common with, say, Kim Stanley Robinson's "The Years of Rice and Salt" (which proposes that the Black Death had a slightly higher mortality rate in Europe than history records, again allowing for a reverse conquest of not just Europe but the Americas as well). Tonally and stylistically, this is an action-adventure novel, and that is clear from the very first page. Khoury's descriptions are perfunctory and functional; they also keep the plot moving at a breakneck pace. I could see this being a good fit for those who enjoy both historical fiction (like, say, Ken Follett) and spy thrillers (like, say, David Baldacci or Brad Thor). This isn't a particularly lyrical take, but it is bound to be entertaining to many.