I've been a Harry Turtledove fan ever since I read Guns of the South, which was my introduction to the vast genre of science fiction known as alternate history. As a history student married to a history student, I LOVE playing the "What If" game with various historical scenarios.
Most of Turtledove's recent work, however, has not been very inspiring. Once, I would rush to the bookstore to pick up the latest installment of whatever series I was in the middle of. Now—Homeward Bound has been out for quite a while, and I have yet to read it. I've also not started the Settling Accounts series. Flat characterization, little plot advancement, and dull repetition have tarnished what would otherwise be very good books.
I wish they could all be like Ruled Britannia. This stand-alone novel shows that Turtledove can still write engaging dialog with memorable characters—even if the characters are largely historical figures. Maybe the idea of a successful Spanish invasion of Britain is far-fetched for some (I personally think that the invasion would have been a bit more "multinational" as more Catholic powers piled onto England), but the reactions of British citizens to the invasion is, I feel, quite accurate. I particularly like the portrayal of religion in the daily lives of Britons—for many, it didn't matter whether Protestants or Catholics were in power, or what ceremonies they had to follow or avoid; they were going to worship God, however they were allowed to.
I was particularly pleased to see one of my favorite Spanish playwrites, Lope de Vega, portrayed in the book. Lope was born only two years before Shakespeare, so they certainly were contemporaries. The depiction of de Vega's womanizing is very accurate, historically speaking, as are other aspects of his life—it was really only the failure of the Spanish effort against England that allowed him to leave the army and begin his writing career in earnest (Lope's ship was among the few who returned from the bitter defeat of the Armada at the hands of the British fleet).