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The Bookman (Angry Robot) Mass Market Paperback – 7 Oct 2010

53 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Angry Robot; Reprint edition (7 Oct. 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0857660349
  • ISBN-13: 978-0857660343
  • Product Dimensions: 10.6 x 2.9 x 17.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (53 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 911,761 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Review

The Bookman is a delight, crammed with gorgeous period detail, seat-of-the-pants adventure and fabulous set-pieces. --The Guardian

This is a steampunk gem...Bring on a sequel, Tidhar! I'm craving to know what happens after the ending! --SFF World

The Bookman pokes at the fat and waddled body of steampunk with its walking cane and leaves it on the roadside with its fresh take on Victorian London without losing any steam on its way. --Loudmouth Man

About the Author

Israeli-born writer Lavie Tidhar has been called an emerging master by Locus magazine, and has quickly established a name for himself as a short fiction writer of some note. He has travelled widely, living variously in South Africa, the UK, Asia and the remote island-nation of Vanuatu in the South Pacific, and his work exhibits a strong sense of place and an engagement with the literary Other in all its forms. He is currently based in Laos, in South East Asia.

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Customer Reviews

3.1 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By P. M. Fernandez VINE VOICE on 2 Feb. 2010
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Well, what to say?

How about reference points? Think of a post-modern "His Dark Materials". Think of "The Matrix" set in the Victorian era. Think of pirates, Jack the Ripper, Conan Doyle and Jules Verne thrown into a melting pot with alien lizards, alternate histories, revolutions and horcruxes.

How about style? Tidhar's prose is lucid, literary and informed. The narrative is pacy, and kept me turning pages - occasionally melodramatic, and would somebody really do all this for love? Isn't that a little - well, Nineteenth Century?

How about plot? If there is any real vulnerability, it is here. There is just too much going on. The shades of grey are too subtle, the factions too numerous, the good guys too bad and the bad guys too good - perhaps that is like life - but by the time you work out in convincing terms who is who and what to do, the book has just about finished.

A good read - I genuinely enjoyed this, though it's a bit off my beaten track. If you are looking for an interesting new voice, and are prepared to go somewhere different, you could do a lot worse.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Niall Alexander on 2 Oct. 2010
Format: Paperback
Orphan loves Lucy. He loves her "the way people do in romantic novels, from the first page, beyond even the end," and when The Bookman kicks off, he's either about to propose to her, or else bed the little strumpet. One way or another, as Orphan admits to Gilgamesh, a broken old poet making ends meet on the street and father-figure to the young scallywag in lieu of his actual parents, "tonight... is the night."

But the only oaths Orphan makes that night are oaths of vengeance. Attending the grand launch of a Martian probe, the Bookman makes his mythical presence felt; his vehement objections to the interstellar expedition in question known. In absentia, he detonates a bomb which destroys the probe and incinerates, in collateral, Orphan's one true love. As soon as he regains his health and his wits, the boy's intent is set. For his campaign of anarchic terror, for his wanton disregard of human life, for taking away the very thing that made Orphan whole, the Bookman must pay.

So begins "emerging master" Lavie Tidhar's first novel, which pits one boy against a conspiracy of - would you credit it? - royal lizards which reaches to the stars and back. Now The Bookman could have been brilliant. During its first third, I fully believed it would be.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Adam VINE VOICE on 10 Mar. 2010
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Produced as a new entry in the "Steampunk" genre (i.e. sci-fi based on an alternative history of steam based technology) this is as flawed as it is readable, a ripping yarn page turner that over eggs the pudding with too much historical referencing and breathless plotting, producing a work that does not quite add up to the sum of its parts.

What works? Firstly, there's a rich imagination and storytelling here that draws you in to a world you'll look forward to returning to (if you're reading in installments).

To sum up, 'Orphan' is a poet in love, and friends with some prominent literati and political agitators, including Karl Marx and Isabella Beeton. In the background, the titular Bookamn, a shadowy terrorist figure, is set on a fresh wave of atrocities, one of which cruelly claims the life of his love Lucy. This sends Orphan spinning on an adventure that crosses the sea to 'Caliban's Island' and beyond. In the meantime we learn details of this alternative history. Britain and her Empire are ruled over by a lizard royalty that quite literally fell from the stars. In the meantime, the lizards may, or may not, be planning an invasion. The Bookman may in fact be mankind's best hope in stopping them. Or he may not. Phew! With me so far?
It does make for a great page turner, compelling you to find out how events unfold in this strange but familiar world. The writing is clear and very readable, although there is some over-writing. For example, do we really need so many different flavours to be evoked when we read of Orphan's tender kisses with his love through the book? He is reminded of, variously, apple, cinammon, almond.
Also, this sophisticated alternate world needs more room to breathe.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By D. Harris TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 11 Feb. 2010
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
This was a really difficult book to rate. Based on ideas and general zing, it would be a 5 - but for me two things hold it back, so I've given it 3 (though I think 3.5 or 3.75 would be fairer).

Why mark it down? First, especially in the opening sections, the tone and setting are a bit clunky. The more steampunk I read, the more it seems to me that these are vital, and really difficult, to get right. It's a fine line. On the one hand, missteps in phrasing such as modern expressions quickly strip away the illusion needed to make a book like this work. On the other, use too much faux Conan Doyle language, and the book will just sound like a send up from the start. For me, this book fails in the first direction - the language and background doesn't quite convince: did anyone talk about "brands" of whisky in the 19th century? Would a butler have served drinks? Shouldn't it have been "cockerels" rather than roosters in Victorian England?

You might say I'm missing the point. After all, this is a book about an alternate history where Victoria is a lizard queen ruling a world empire. Who's to say how people spoke? But I do think that the tone is crucial, and while the language comes close to being brilliant, it's not quite there. On entering a bookshop, the hero is greeted by the smell of books new, old and ancient, like "a horde of somewhat dysfunctional relatives at a family event". A family what? Doesn't it sound so much better if you just say "wedding" (and drop "dysfunctional"; it doesn't sound very Victorian, and it's not needed - we all know what families are like!) But that is so nearly a wonderful metaphor. With a little extra editorial input, perhaps, this book could have been written superbly, instead of merely well.
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