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The Afrika Reich

Guy Saville's debut novel is a thriller with the heart of a blockbuster and the head of a history junkie.

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The Afrika Reich by Guy Saville
Holt, Henry and Company
400 pp.

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In light of drone strikes, cyber terrorism, religious extremists, and morally ambiguous international policies, it’s easy to look at World War II and say, “That’s how to fight a war!” Which is of course why World War II stories are so popular still. They have become real-life reflections of the greatest story ever told: the battle between good and evil, glorified in fiction and history alike as our finest hour.

But what if we hadn’t won?

That’s the premise behind Guy Saville’s debut thriller The Afrika Reich, set in an alternate-history 1950s. Pearl Harbor never happened, the US never got involved, and the British were massacred at Dunkirk, leading to a truce that divided the African continent.

Richard Burton, British ex-Foreign Legionnaire-turned-mercenary heads up a squad to travel to the heart of Nazi Africa. The iron-fisted Walter Hochberg, sadistic head of the African SS, is the target for a secret assassination attempt. Hochberg killed Burton's father and possibly his mother, and Burton wants revenge. But “something” (down with spoilers!) goes wrong during the mission and Burton and his former Foreign Legion commander Patrick are left in the middle of Nazi-held Africa. Finding themselves in the middle of a growing international conflict, their only chance to survive is to get out of Africa.

The Nazis have interned all of the Africans within their borders to a Saharan camp called “Muspel.” (Subtle Norse mythological hints abound throughout the book.) Vicious supporting-lady/child-soldier Neliah has flashbacks to the horrors of the Herero genocide, which fuels her rage and makes her a perfect partner for Burton and Patrick. Her weapon of choice is a dull, rusty machete, which she refuses to sharpen – it makes the cuts worse.

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