A review of the Draka series by S.M. Stirling.
Imagine the defeated remnants of every war and revolution in Western history from the eighteenth century onward. These remnants, who fought to maintain their slave owning lifestyle or their position of nobility, have now been spirited away to a far off place where they manage to set up a colony in some remote part of the world, at the time untouched by civilization, surrounded on all sides by savage tribes.
This is the world in which S.M. Stirling’s Domination series begins. In 1782, British Loyalists fled the American revolution with their slaves and families and set sail for the warm and sunny shores of South Africa. Thereupon, they arrived in the British Crown Colony of Drakia (named for Sir Francis Drake) which had been captured from the Dutch some years earlier where they settle down and found a new home.
Overtime, this fledgling colony is reinforced by Icelandic refugees escaping a devastating series of volcanic eruptions, French slave owners from the Caribbean, Huguenots as well as Royalists escaping the tyranny of the ongoing French Revolution. Drakia also becomes home for Confederate families seeking to maintain their slave owning lifestyle after the South’s defeat in the American Civil War as well as a steady stream of reactionaries, political dissidents, and other victims of the Enlightenment including figures such as Thomas Carlyle, Charles de Gobineau and Freidrich Nietzsche.
The Dominion of Drakia goes on, through a series of wars, to conquer and subjugate all of the African continent. The Drakians are merciless in their conquests; each tribe that falls to them is quickly enslaved and put to work on their ever expanding plantations, mining operations and railway systems. In the 1830’s, the British parliament formally outlaws slavery. However, this did not deter the Drakian’s whose Legislative Assembly goes on to pass the “Indentured Labor” and “Master and Servant Acts”, establishing a system of debt-peonage for the conquered nonwhite population. Eventually “Drakia” becomes shortened to “Draka” in popular usage and slaves come to be referred to as “serfs,” mostly as a way to avoid scrutiny of the British Empire’s anti-slavery legislation.
The continent of Africa is seen as nothing more than a Draka preserve under the auspice of the British Empire. However, with the outbreak of the Great War and Germany’s subsequent defeat in 1919, the Draka refuse to concede any of the conquests they had taken during the war which includes the entirety of the former Ottoman Empire, Bulgaria, Central Asia and Western China. As a result, the Dominion of Drakia effectively cuts it’s ties with Great Britain becoming the “Domination of the Draka”.
This takes place already amongst a backdrop of Western resentment towards Draka culture, especially in regards to their unashamed practice of slavery and their increasing loosening attitudes towards sex which had upset the Victorian morals of the previous century. Because of this, the Draka develop an anti-bourgeois stance which further aliens them from the Western world.
Because the Draka have always made up a permanent minority, this greatly effects how their society developed. Draka culture is highly militaristic with Draka children being trained from cradle to grave to be physically superb warriors. All Draka children are required to attend sex segregated boarding schools with a heavy emphasis on physical training and, upon graduation, required to serve a minimum of four years in the Citizen Force– the Draka army.
Given the nature of their militaristic culture and their war-driven economy, the Draka become pioneers in creating new industries. For example, the automobile (called the “autosteamer” in this timeline) is invented in the Domination as are repeating rifles, land mines, machine and submachine guns, armored cars, etc. Because the Draka are so technologically advanced compared to the rest of the world, it only makes the Draka seem like a completely alien civilization to the eyes of outsiders.
Most of the Draka armed forces, like their population, are serfs. Serf “janissaries” make up the bulk of the Domination’s vast, seemingly endless war machine. Janissaries cannot hold officer ranks, however, but do enjoy certain privileges that other serfs do not. Serfs enjoy little to no rights under the Domination and are considered to be nothing more than ‘tools that speak.’ Serfs can be bought and sold but are usually tied to whatever family plantation their ancestors happened to belong to. At first all serfs were originally African, but with the Draka victory in the Great War serfs become increasingly diverse from Turkish, Arab, Central Asian and Chinese backgrounds. Later, Italy goes “under the yoke” becoming the first Western European nation to be impressed into serfdom by the Domination.
Over the course of time the Draka and the rest of the Western world diverge from each other more and more, one such example is the growth of irreligiosity among the Draka.
It is implied that sometime in the 19th century there was an attempt to revive Nordic paganism to replace Christianity as the official religion of the Draka. However, the attempt failed and it’s only lasting legacy was to create a new type of profanity wherby the Draka swear by the names of the old heathen gods. In the end, religion is eventually looked down upon in polite society and Christianity in particular is considered suspect by the Security Directorate, the Draka secret police.
Furthermore, the attitudes about White supremacy that were taken for granted by Europeans in the 18th and 19th centuries are eventually replaced by Draka-supremacy, in which the mass of non-Drakan humanity are regarded as “ferals,” that is to say, serfs that haven’t been caught yet. In contrast to National Socialism, which held that there was a hierarchy of races, the Draka are very keen about the effort they must take to keep their status, as any revolt amongst the serfs could mean their utter annihilation. These attitudes are eventually developed and expounded upon by Draka philosophers, most notabllly Elvira Naldorssen who writes:
…so the Draka are not different from other peoples because they violate the Golden Rule or Bentham’s derivative idolatry ‘the greatest good for the greatest number’. Everyone does. We do not violate them, we reject them.
- Others have conquered and ruled; we alone conquer for conquest’s sake and Dominate for no other purpose than Domination itself; the name we half-consciously chose for our state is no accident. We and we alone have spoken aloud the Great Secret; that the root function of all human society is the production and reproduction of power—and that power is the ability to compel others to do your will against theirs. It is end, not means. The purpose of Power is Power.
- Naldorssen continues,
The Draka will conquer the world for two reasons; because we must and because we can. And yet of the two forces the second is the greater; we do this because we choose to do it. By the sovereign Will and force of arms the Draka will rule the Earth, and in so doing remake themselves. We shall conquer and beat the Nations of the Earth into the dust and reforge them in our self wrought Image; the Final Society without weakness or mercy, hard and pure. Our descendants will walk the hillside of that future, innocent beneath the stars, with no more between them and their naked will than a wolf has. THEN there will be Gods in the Earth.
The first book of the series, Marching through Georgia, takes place amidst the backdrop of an alternate World War II called the “Eurasian War” and opens with the character of Eric von Shrakenberg, a Draka centurion of the First Airborne Legion whose family is descended from among the original Hessian mercenaries that fought on the losing side of the American Revolution. Eric’s “Century” (roughly equivalent to a Company) is garrisoned in a cargo plane awaiting deployment over war-torn Nazi occupied Georgia. The German Reich was much more successful in this timeline than ours; with the Soviet Union having been devastated by two civil wars as well as having to contend with having the Domination along its southernmost border. European Russia is completely occupied by the Reich; Moscow is said to have fallen to German forces and Stalin is stated as having been killed. Marshal Semyon Timoshenko is mentioned as being the de facto ruler of a Soviet junta somewhere in the Urals.
Most of the story is told from the perspective of Eric von Shrakenberg as well as his sister Johanna, who is in the Draka Air Corps, his father Karl, who is a Strategos, (roughly equivalent to a general) and too a lesser extent Felix Hoth (an SS commander) as well as William Dreiser, an American reporter who follows Eric’s Century for a story he is doing about the Draka involvement in the war.
The von Shrakenbergs are prominent family of Draka landholders whose roots go back to the original settlers to the Dominion of Drakia. However, it is the person of Eric von Shrakenberg that is perhaps the most interesting of the characters of the novel. Eric is different from other Draka of his milieu in the sense that he personally dislikes the constant wars of expansion, the oppression of serfs, the brutality with which repression is carried out against conquered populations and is overall deeply uncomfortable in the society in which he belongs. This tension stems from Eric having fallen in love with a serf concubine, a Circassian girl named Tyansha, who was gifted to him by his father returning from the wars in Afghanistan.
All Draka males, from age thirteen onward, are given life or death control over their serfs and it is usually around this time that they begin to sexually experiment with all serfs underneath their authority. Eric is no exception, however, except he takes what is usually seen as boyhood experimentation into the realm of the taboo. Eric falls deeply in love with Tyansha whom ends up dying giving birth to his child, a daughter named Anna. At her funeral, Eric openly weeps during the brief service to the embarrassment and outright disgust of his father who chastises him. Eric then tells his father bluntly if he ever lays a hand on him again he will kill him.
The tension between Eric and his father Karl is a minor reoccurring theme for the duration of the first book. Eric could be forgiven for becoming emotional over the death of his serfgirl, however, what he does next is seen as absolutely unacceptable under Draka law. Determined to never see Anna grow up under slavery, Eric arranges to have his daughter secretly sent away to America where she can at least have a chance to live a free life. This is tantamount to treason in eyes of the Domination and if it were not for his service in the Caucasus at the end of the novel where he is mentioned as having gone above and beyond the call of duty, would have landed him a bullet to the back of his head at the hands of the Security Directorate.
The majority of the novel takes place in the Caucausus where German and Soviet forces are slugging it out in a free for all with no clear winner in sight. Eric’s unit has been tasked with opening a line of assault in which Draka forces can push through and make headway into Russia and later, Europe.
Eric’s Century use gliders to make headway into the Caucausus mountains and take control of a small village and reinforce it into a makeshift military encampment along the Ossetian Military Highway. From there they come into conflict with Felix Hoth, a commander of the Liebstandarte, an elite armored unit of the Waffen-SS.
Hoth is a skilled, but ultimately unimpressive leader, who is prone to bouts of rage which upset his judgment. He has under his command four armored divisions which must turn away their focus from the remaining forces of the Soviet rump-state to the amassing threat of the Draka to the south. It is during the fight with Waffen-SS that the truly alien nature of the Draka’s advanced weaponry becomes apparent. The main battle tank for the Citizen Force, the Hond III, eerily evokes images of a modern M1 Abrams. The Draka standard issue assault rifle, the T6 Holbars, is a fully automatic rifle with integrated bipods and sights; magazine fed mortars and nerve gas grenades are also listed among the Domination’s arsenal.
While the German war-machine is mentioned as having been more advanced, as well as more prepared than in our time, it does the Reich no good in the face of a foe with such an overwhelming technological advantage. At the end of the first novel, Eric von Shrakenberg’s unit manages to not ultimately repel, but crush all four armored Waffen-SS divisions earning him the Domination’s highest military honor, the Aurora, as well as making him immune to any further reprisals on the part of the Security Directorate for his criticisms of Domination policy and, of course, the expatriation of his serf daughter to the United States.
Marching through Georgia is perhaps the best written book in the series but nonetheless reads like any other military fiction novel. It is fast and addictive, and the description of the Draka homeland paints images of a thoroughly alien civilization ripped out of another universe and transported to the 20th century: a diesel-punk society whose cities are lined with marble columns and colonnades of every color imaginable and private manors and townhouses tucked away among rolling hills and knolls. All the while you are made keenly aware that on the outskirts of these beautiful cities exists a vast slave-empire, with millions of hapless unfortunates tolling away with mechanical precision in the sprawling manufactories and industrial complexes of a State whose wealth is measured in human flesh. The amount of imagery and life that goes into to painting the Draka and the Domination make the novel stand out against others in the same genre.
The second novel in the series, Under the Yoke, takes places where the first novel leaves off– with the conquest of Europe.
If there is one thing that makes this series stand out amongst other alternate histories it is the rapid pace in which technology develops. By 1944, all sides are using ballistic missiles and jet-powered fighter aircraft. This occurs too little too late for Europe as Domination forces immediately invade Europe through Russia, the Dardanelles and the Straits of Gibraltar. The memory of Hitler makes other European nations loathe to side with Germany to fight off a Draka invasion and Europe is ultimately occupied and subjugated, albeit at the cost of many Citizen lives. By 1945, the Draka conquest of Europe is complete.
In this timeline, Spain is under Republican rule and a “Spanish Soviet Republic” was proclaimed and provided much of the main resistance to Draka occupation. An uprising in Barcelona in 1952 forces the Draka to drop a nuclear bomb on the city. In short, no less than twelve nuclear bombs were used in during the pacification campaigns on the European continent. The Draka close all centers of learning, confiscate all literature and begin a program of mass deportations, executions and enslavement of all nations on the continent. Millions of Europeans scramble across the English channel trying to get to free Britain and the United States.
At the end of the Eurasian War, more than 200 million lives had been lost, three times the amount than in our Second World War. The end of the war also puts the world into two camps: the Domination of the Draka and the Alliance for Democracy.
It should be elaborated that the United States was also much more expansionistic in this timeline as well. America annexes Canada in the War of 1812, all of Mexico in the Mexican War, William Walker’s Central American Empire as well as Cuba, Hispaniola, and the Philippines. The other member states of the Alliance include Great Britain, the Republic of Gran Colombia, the Empire of Brazil, the Australasian Federation, Japan, the Indian Republic and the Indochinese Federation. As both sides have nuclear warheads a Cold War known coequally as “the Protracted Struggle” begins.
Under the Yoke is arguably the weakest addition in the series, but is interesting in that it shifts the tone from that of military fiction to something of a cross between a spy thriller and a exploitation film from the seventies, complete with graphic depictions of impalement and enough lurid sex scenes to make George R.R. Martin blush.
The novel opens up from the perspective of Marya Sokolowska, a Polish nun, in captivity at a Security Directorate processing cell in the Province of Burgundia (formerly France). Marya, along with French communist Chantal LeFarge and her younger sister, are bought by Tanya von Shrakenberg, cousin to Eric von Shrakenberg, and taken to her newly established plantation (formerly a chateau) in the French countryside.
What makes this book interesting in the series is how it manages to document the subjugation of Europe from the perspectives of multiple characters. To Tanya, it is only right and natural that non-Draka be enslaved and subjugated and her chapters deal with her experiences in the war and the Draka vision for a future where all of Europe is made into a giant plantation. For Marya, it is about how she tries to reconcile her faith living among people who will brutalize innocents without a second thought, attempting to fit it all in as being part of God’s plan. It should be noted that much of the book are conversations between Tanya and Marya about their conflicting views.
Chantal LeFarge is an interesting character who does not have many chapters of her own. In the few chapters which are from her perspective, however, we truly begin to see how terrifying the lengths in which the Draka will go to utterly hammer the peoples they conquer into submission.
Before and during the war, Chantal was a member of the French Communist Party and the struggle against the Draka was seen as another struggle against imperialist aggression. There is one short but incredibly telling scene where during the initial stages of the Draka conquest of France, members of the Communist Party went on strike to protest the occupation for which they were subsequently impaled.
This scene, more than any other, demonstrates to the reader that the Draka are not just another nation in a line of conquerors, but determined to be the last conquerors in human history. The Draka are not like the National Socialists for whom conquest was only a means to power. For the Draka, conquest only represents a function, a tool like any other towards the establishment of the Final Society.
This is also made perfectly clear in what is perhaps the most graphic, brutal, stomach churning scene in the entire book where partisans belonging to the French Résistance are captured and led one by one to the “Turk,” the Draka nickname given to the impaling spike. In this scene “bushmen” (the name given to resistance fighters) are captured by a Janissary unit. The partisan leader tries to muster up the courage to shout one last patriotic slogan before being dragged away and impaled. What makes this scene so stomach turning is not so much the description of the impalements, but the psychological horror it inflicts on the partisans as the realization that they are about to die in one of the most gruesome ways imaginable slowly dawns on them.
Returning back to the main story, continental Europe becomes the north-most province of the Domination, with families who laid claim to prime real estate after the war begin to move in bringing with them their serfs as well. It is interesting to see a massive influx of Africans, Maghrebi’s, Turks and other people who have completely lost their sense of folk identity, knowing nothing more than to serve at the behest at their Draka masters. Most serfs are seemingly content with their lot in life as is demonstrated through the eyes of Tom, a negro veteran of the Afghan War and his daughter who serve under the von Shrakenbergs. His daughter reassures Marya and Chantal if they just obey their new masters, do what they say and let them bed them when they please, they can actually look forward to a good life Under the Yoke.
Now enter Frederick Kustaa, a Finnish-American operative for the OSS.
Kustaa provides us with something unique to the series, an American perspective. In Marching through Georgia we had the character of William Dreiser who was only a commentator landed in the middle of the strange world of the Draka. With Kustaa, we are given a man who is effectively behind enemy lines in what has been revealed to the reader to be the harshest and cruelest regime imaginable.
Kustaa is literally dropped into occupied Europe where he meets up with Finnish resistance fighters who have been able to hold off the Draka with some success and provides them with smuggled weapons. Finland, strangely, is the only nation on the European continent to not have been fully annexed by the Domination. Towards the end of the Eurasian War, Finland collectively went off the grid in preparation for the inevitable Draka conquest and has been engaged in a guerilla war with the Domination since.
The Draka, however, are in no hurry to conquer the Finnish bushmen. As a people with a passion for hunting, they have essentially reduced Finland to a preserve where they can hunt the most dangerous prey of all, human beings.
While in Finland, Fred Kustaa assists the bushmen in an assault on a janissary convoy with great success before making his way into central Europe and then into France. Kustaa has been assigned to meet up with Ernst Oerbach, a German scientist with Draka citizenship, who has access to important knowledge in nuclear fusion whom he is supposed to evacuate back to the Alliance. As with America in our timeline, the Draka gave a select few Nazi scientists citizenship in exchange for their cooperation in ballistics research. However, as a condition for citizenship Oerbach had to give up his children to be adopted into a Draka family and has chosen to defect to the Alliance than allow the people who took his children access to fusion bombs.
Frederick Kustaa disguises himself as a disabled Draka veteran and art collector touring occupied France for it’s paintings, with Oerbach pretending to be his serf assistant. The two manage to gain entry to Château Retour, the von Shrakenberg estate, where Kustaa is made the guest of honor in what passes for Draka equivalent of a christening.
It is there that Kustaa is supposed to meet up with his point of contact, the leader of the Resistance who turns out to be Marya. In one hilarious scene where Frederick, in an attempt to be alone with Marya, insistently asks Tanya to allow him to bed her. As Marya has become on of Tanya’s favorite serfs, she only does so after much reluctance and only because Kustaa is considered an honored guest. Marya is furious at the prospect of having her chastity as a nun defiled by a Draka stranger (only Kustaa realizes who she really is) and pulls a knife on him. Kustaa struggles to remember the code phrase that would identify him as her contact all the while Marya, dressed in lingerie, tries to stab him.
The situation is eventually resolved, however, and the two begin to plot their evacuation. Meanwhile, things are not going well for Chantal LeFarge who has been made into the personal concubine of Edward von Shrakenberg, Tanya’s husband. After a vivid sex scene where Chantal is essentially raped by Edward, against whom she can do nothing but grit her teeth and bear with it, overhears Marya and Frederick discussing their escape plans. LeFarge eventually coerces Fred and Marya into taking her with them during their escape and it is during this last part of the book that all hell breaks loose.
Kustaa, Marya, Oerbach and Chantal make their escape during the night after a party of guests who arrived for the celebrations of Tanya and Edward’s newborn child are all drunk, tired and stoned out of their minds. Without giving away too many spoilers, the shit hits the fan and the entire escape plan turns into a blood bath. Multiple characters, including Oerbach, are killed and the Draka form a hunting party to track down the escapees.
The climax jumps the shark to put it mildly. An agreement is reached between Kustaa and the Draka where he agrees to sacrifice himself so that Chantal LeFarge can escape as he and Marya are left to die in one of the most over the top ways imaginable along with Tanya’s bachelor brother. In the end, nothing is accomplished except some small semblance of a moral victory. The second book ends ends with Chantal LeFarge having given birth to twins, a boy and a girl, whom she names after Fredrick and Marya.
The third book of the series, The Stone Dogs, jumps ahead a few decades and takes place in Italy, now a generation under the yoke and reads more like a science fiction novel.
The story is told primarily from the eyes of Yolande Ingolfsson, the daughter of Eric von Shrakenberg’s sister Johanna. The majority of the first third of the novel documents her early years and well into young adulthood.
While somewhat tedious to read at times, it’s interesting to note that this is the first time in the series that the main story is told from the eyes of a Draka child. Like all Draka children, Yolande is sent to the agoge where she is instructed in both the martial training that defines the Draka way of life as well in ideology where we see firsthand the cold rationale in which the Draka justify their pursuits for world domination. Indeed, there was something quite chilling in the frankness in which the total grinding down of non-Drakan humanity into meat-puppets which exist for no other reason than to serve their masters was explained to children nonetheless.
It is also during the first third of the book that we are introduced to the character of Myfwany Venders, a fellow classmate of Yolande. Over the course of the novel the two become lovers. This is nothing unusual since bisexuality is seen as completely normal (even expected) in Draka society up until the time one is eventually married. A great portion of the last book is dedicated to the relationship between Yolande and Myfwany.
The rest of the novel deals with The Protracted Struggle– the cold war between the Domination and the Alliance for Democracy. Although set in 1970’s and 80’s, technology seems to advanced 200 years compared to our timeline. Both sides employ nuclear pulse-driven spacecraft with colonies established on the moon, Mars and the asteroid belt. Unbeknownst to the Domination, the Alliance is secretly constructing a anti-matter propelled starship to be sent to Alpha Centauri in the event of a Draka victory.
The subject of the ‘Final War,’ as it’s called in the series, is a recurring topic throughout much of the book. Both sides are evenly matched with one another, with the Alliance taking the slight lead every year. Since the end of the Eurasian War, the Draka have become the undisputed masters in the realm of biological research, having cracked the Human genome as well as having created human-animal chimeras by the mid 1970’s. The Alliance, having a much larger free population, have gained the upper hand in physics and computer technologies.
Both sides recognize that the Alliance will eventually surpass the Domination in pure technological development alone and although the Domination has an ocean of slave labor at it’s disposal, it will not save them as they continue to stagnate in scientific research. Unbeknownst to either belligerent, both superpowers are currently working on doomsday weapons for when the stalemate is eventually broken. The Alliance is developing a weaponized computer virus aimed at crippling the Domination’s military infrastructure. The Draka, being experts in genetic research, develop a biological virus called the “Stone Dogs” which when triggered by radio waves causes the host to experience vivid hallucinations and go violently insane.
The Alliance perspective is told through OSS agents Frederick and Marya LeFarge, the children of Chantal Lefarge from the previous novel. Frederick and Marya are given a orders to execute a scientist who defected to the Domination. The reasons behind his defection are humorous; the scientist in question is described as a young but horrendously ugly computer genious who defected to the Domination with the promise of a harem of concubines and a chateau in France situated amongst a newly established hunting reserve.
The scientist is kept away from Draka society at large by his Security Directorate minders, who fear that his social awkwardness would eventually get him killed by any Citizen he encounters. Disguised as Citizens, Marya and Frederick eventually gain access to the hunting grounds after Frederick unknowingly seduces his own half-sister, Alexandra, the daughter of Tanya and Edward von Shrakenberg. Although the mission is initially successful once the scientist is executed, their cover is blown and they are forced to make a hasty retreat to safety.
The Alliance suffers a few setbacks over the course of several years. While the Alliance is still readily outpacing the Domination overall, it suffers it’s greatest setback to date when the Indian Republic secedes from the Alliance in 1975.
A combination of anti-Draka fervor and Indian nationalism remained a strong current on the subcontinent. Certain Indian Islamic groups express a desire to wage a jihad against the Domination, presumably for it’s destruction of Mecca almost a century ago. Hindu nationalist groups also seem to contend that India could go it alone against the Domination without the aid of the Alliance for Democracy.
While Frederick Kustaa and his wife are out celebrating his having been promoted at a local bar, the television channels cut to a news report stating that the President of India had just committed suicide. Apparently, it had been revealed that Alliance operatives have been rigging Indian elections in order to prevent an Indian nationalist victory. Put succinctly, India declares it’s independence and the Domination invades.
The war is over in weeks. The Draka thoroughly decimate the Indian forces as well as their Alliance proxies. The LeFarge twins are sent to the frontlines in an effort to salvage what Alliance technology they can from falling into Draka hands. Yolande Ingolfsson and Myfwany Venders are part of the occupation force sent to bring India under the yoke and during a firefight over an Indian military installation, Myfwany is killed by Fred Lefarge and Marya is taken prisoner. In the ensuing shock that accompanied the Draka conquest of India, the nations that form the Alliance for Democracy formally merge into a single superstate.
Marya is broken and tamed through extensive torture and is forced to become a “brooder,” a surrogate mother, for Yolande’s child, a clone of Myfwany whom she names Gwendolyn.
The latter portion of the novel mostly deals with the internal politics within the two superpowers. In the heart of the Domination, an aging Eric von Shrakenberg, now a Senator, is running for the position of Archon, the Draka head of state. Eric is pursuing a position of gradual reform that would allow serfs to occupy specialized positions to maintain and operate the Domination’s technological infrastructure in order to compete with the technological sophistication of the Alliance.
Such a move is heavily condemned by the Radical Party, who take a hardline position against the bettering of the conditions of serfs as well pursue an aggressive foreign policy towards the Alliance. However, in the end Eric wins a close victory over the Radical party candidate and becomes Archon.
Yolande rises through the ranks of the Domination and becomes Commandant-general of the Draka’s lunar colony and through the course of the years eventually learns to trust Marya, whom she believes to have broken into a faithful servant. Marya eventually becomes privy to Draka State secrets, including knowledge of the Stone Dogs virus, which Yolande lets slip during one of her pillow talks with Marya.
Unbeknownst to Yolande, Marya had actually been feeding back all of the information she had gathered back to the OSS. Yolande catches wind of this and her cover is blown, forcing Marya to make a daring escape off the lunar colony towards an intercepting Alliance vessel. It is then revealed that Yolande allows Marya to escape after she had planted the Alliance computer-plague onboard the lunar colony.
Yolande’s allowing Marya to escape eventually turns into one final act of revenge against the LeFarge’s, as it forces the hand of Archon von Shrakenberg to preemptively activate the Stone Dogs virus once the comp-plague begins to ravage the technological infrastructure of the Domination. The Alliance comp-virus works well, but is ultimately not as effective as the Stone Dogs. In the last few scenes of the novel we are treated to some very gruesome and terrifying descriptions of the Alliance High Command, including the US president, mutilating themselves and each other all under the influence of what can only be described as the most horrifying drug trip imaginable.
Fusion bombs rain down on both Alliance and Domination cities alike, pushing the earth’s ecosystems to the breaking point and causing a nuclear winter so severe that ice forms in the Adriatic Sea. In the end, the Draka are victorious having barely scrapped by in the ensuing cataclysm. What remains of the Alliance is mostly consigned to its extra-terrestrial colonies beyond the belt. After the Final War, a brief truce is declared between what remains of the two powers with the Draka being forced to allow the Alliance’s trump card, an anti-matter driven starship called The New America, to set a course for the Alpha Centauri system where the Alliance had previously discovered a earth-like planet suitable for human life.
Also, the Draka are forced to grant limited citizenship to what remains of the Alliance’s off world colonies, a move that angers much of Eric von Shrakenberg’s staff being that many of the colonists come from non-White backgrounds. In the end, Eric decides that it is more to prudent to set to rebuilding the Domination than it is focusing on minor squabbles. The Archon reasons that although it may take centuries for the Alliance to rebuild among the stars, the possibility that the remnants of a free humanity may one day return to reclaim the earth from the Draka is to great of a risk to overlook.
The end of the Final War sees roughly 700 million people dead on both sides leaving the ecosystem shattered and civilization hanging on by a thread; the most devastating war in human history brought about by one woman’s personal grudge over a slain lover.
The Stone Dogs ends with an epilogue, with one of the daughters of Fredrick LeFarge recounting the actions undertaken by her father in order to ensure that humanity could have the chance to live in freedom in a new home. It is then revealed that a new post-American civilization has been established on the world of Samothrace, situated somewhere in the cosmic gulf of the Alpha Centuari system.
Overall, the Domination series is a fast, fun and enjoyable read. At times there are moments that come off as campy, grotesque, sickeningly hilarious and even thought provoking. The Draka and their Domination are a breathe of fresh air when it comes to world building and the amount detail that goes into the descriptions of their culture, society, economy and even weaponry adds a depth of realism that would otherwise be lost in a series that embodies a scenario that could never happen.
While doing research for this article, it surprised me to see how much personal investment on the part of so many people went into attempting to disprove that the Domination could have ever existed at all. Something that has not gone unnoticed by Stirling himself who in an interview said:
There’s a small internet industry of ‘proving’ that the Domination couldn’t happen. I consider this a complement. How many people go on at great length trying to prove that vampires and werewolves don’t exist?
Lastly, and more importantly, I want to emphasize what we on the Right can take away from such a series. The Draka, although cruel, are never seen as petty, cheap, vain or self-serving (with the notable exception of Yolande at the end of the third novel).
Indeed, throughout the majority of the series, we are never presented with a scene in which a Draka does not believe in the righteousness of their cause. Nearly all the Draka characters are virtuous to a tee, and their collective commitment to physical conditioning, martial valor and the securing of an existence for their people is never questioned.
Although the series ends with The Stone Dogs, a fourth novel entitled Drakon was released in 1996 detailing the dimension-warping excursion of Yolande’s daughter Gwendolyn some four-hundred years after the events of the Final War where the Draka have biologically engineered themselves to be a master race with their serfs genetically altered into a slave race incapable of rebellion.
An anthology of short stories set within the Draka universe by a myriad of various authors was published in 2000 under the title Drakas! with the most notable contribution being by the “Master of Alternate History,” Harry Turtledove.
I personally recommend the Domination series to history enthusiasts, fans of both military and science fiction as well as anyone on the Right who is interested to see how a society created by reactionaries might have developed, albeit in the most extreme way possible. The books, however, are excedingly rare to come by; making them something of collectors items. If by any chance you the reader happen to come across them at a old book store at discount price, I highly recomend you buy them as you will not be disappointed.