Top 5 Tuesday: Worlds That Never Were

Hello all, and welcome to another Top Five Tuesday, where the topic is Books Set In An Alternate Universe

I am mostly treating this as alt-historical, but there will be a few where characters enter alternate universes of timelines in a secondary world.

Top 5 Tuesday is a weekly meme created by Shanah, the Bionic Book Worm, and now hosted by Meeghan at Meeghan Reads.

Now, let’s start with…

1. The Dragon Waiting by John M. Ford

Set in late medieval/early renaissance Europe, this tale of magic, intrigue, and rootlessness features a world very similar to ours save for one major departure and its ramifications. The departure is that the Eastern Roman Empire, the Byzantines, discovered Vampirism. The result is a Europe without Christianity, and with a lot of Byzantine desire to rule the whole Roman Empire. That comes to a head when they try to conquer England, then ruled by the last of the Plantagenets (as we know it) – Richard III. But Byzantine intrigue has given him a lot of unlikely allies, and there is indeed something very powerful waiting…

2. The Great Hunt by Robert Jordan

We’ll see if I think of any others, but when I thought alternate universes in secondary worlds, I immediately thought of The Great Hunt, the second book of The Wheel of Time and right now maybe my personal favourite of them. The three visits to alternate worlds is a big part of that. Like biiiiig. Like massive. Three! I can see no more due to spoilers, but it is creepy and awesome.

3. The Jon Shannow Trilogy by David Gemmell

Gemmell loved some good alternative universe and timeline shenanigans and I nearly went with Echoes of The Great Song, where people from an alternate universe invade. Very good book. However, I went with the Jon Shannow – or Jerusalem Man – trilogy, which features numerous trips into alternate universes as part of its very whacky post-apocalyptic weird western shenanigans. Unhinged in the best possible way.

4. The Drawing of the Dark by Tim Powers

For people who like history with a twist, Tim Powers is a very obvious recommendation. For fitting the brief I decided to go with The Drawing of the Dark, which offers an alternate history to the Siege of Vienna, complete with Vikings, people who think they’re King Arthur, untrustworthy seeming types and beer. Every fantasy book is improved by beer.

5. The Lions of Al-Rassan by Guy Gavriel Kay

Another very good recommendation for people who like history with a twist, or just outstanding books. I could have named the vast majority of Kay’s books here, many of which explore Mediterranean history with a quarter turn to the fantastic, but it is this tale of Spain when it was split between Christian and Muslim, sometimes warring and sometimes finding respect, that seemed the one to promote today.

Bonus: Jingo and Lords & Ladies by Terry Pratchett – Neither feature going into an actual alternate universe. But both books are made far richer for the protagonists knowing they are out there, and that their lives could have gone very different…

That’s top five Tuesday, let me know what you think


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