With Dominion, acclaimed novelist C.J. Sansom has added yet another field of novel writing to his already impressive repertoire. Having established himself as a historical novelist with his Tudor series starring hunchback lawyer Matthew Shardlake and venturing into the historical thriller arena with his WWII-based Winter in Madrid, Dominion becomes Sansom’s first entry into the world of alternative history.
World War II is a decade past. England has surrendered with the fall of France. Churchill is gone. The Queen is more puppet than monarch. Boy Scouts are afraid of a forced merger with the League of Fascist Youth. Nothing is as it was. Except. The British Resistance has never bowed to the Nazis. Civil servant and Resistance operative David Fitzgerald is called to action, ordered to Birmingham to free British scientist Frank Muncaster from a mental hospital to keep secrets safe from the Nazis. Of course, the Nazis intend otherwise.
Although Sansom knows a nice turn of phrase when he see it, as other reviewers have noted, what moves me more about Dominion is the author’s attention to detail in his creation of an alternate world, of a fascist-controlled England. No element is too small to be overlooked. And he paints Fitzgerald’s mission, the story of the Resistance, within the context of a much larger canvas. In the end, the reader is left to marvel at Fitzgerald’s heroism and Muncaster’s tenacity while appreciating a conclusion that is as unexpected as it is inevitable. Highly recommended.