The first book of the 'Merchant Princes' - a sweeping new series from one of the hottest new writers in science fiction
The protagonist - a thirty something reporter - finds that she can walk between worlds; our modern world of the 2000's and another, nearly identical world, that is still ruled by a feudal system and is technologically stunted. Soon she finds that she is the classical long lost family member, of a family that is anything but loving and more reminiscent of a world domineering mafia.
Intregue, plots, murder and romance follow - all with an underlying mystery that begs to be solved... Can Miriam change the way this new world works, can she survive the murderous intent of the other Families, her supposed close relatives (including possibly her newly discovered grandmother) and a mysterious third faction? And finally, will she be able to continue her secret affair in public, without fear of recrimintation!?
Not to move too far away from what we've come to expect from Stross, he still shows his panache for political thought and find that earth's alternate world is a boiling pot of politcs. Its also refreshing to see that the fuedal system is described the way it would really be, and not some fairytale of lords and ladies. Nor should you expect tales of heroic knights on horseback.
The only knights you'll meet in this fantasy setting have glocks and Sub-machine guns.
The story itself is part of a larger series, and if the book itself feels a little stunted and sudden - it is. Originally this and book two were meant to be a single volume, so the ending is a cliffhanger even though it feels a little wrong.
The overall series looks to be a really exciting departure from your standard fantasy faire, and book two far more of an in depth tale now that book one has the intro's and explanations out of the way.
If you're looking for something a bit different in the fantasy isle, or are already a fan of Stross' in depth writing, then this is definaly one for the wish list.
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