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Customer Review

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "The devil you say!", 5 Jan. 2012
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This review is from: The Martian Ambassador (Blackwood and Harrington) (Paperback)
This is the first novel of what I believe is the "steampunk" genre that I have read; so stand to be corrected on its classification.

The story itself is enjoyable; a slightly alternative Victorian England which has built a relationship with Mars (despite the initial alarm caused to inhabitants of Horsell Common - a sly reference to H G Wells' War of the Worlds). Queen Victoria still rules England the Empire; but there are diplomatic relations with Mars and a Martian Ambassador in London - when the Ambassador is killed, the risk of Mars and the World falling into war becomes more of a reality. What can Special Investigator Thomas Blackwood, joined by Lady Sophia Harrington, do to prevent war and to find the real cause of the death and mayhem - and what does Spring-Heeled Jack have to do with all this?

This is a great setup - there are Martian technologies being used on earth, and steam-driven apparatus even in human prosthetics. But ... and there is a but. I found the whole "Faerie Realm" to be a let-down in the book. This was an element that just didn't seem to sit right; and to be honest, let the tone of the book down. It seemed a cop-out that when things got into a tight corner, there was a convenient member of the Faerie kingdom there just ready to pop out of a faerie mound and put things to right. Just didn't seem to be necessary! Surely the novel could, and should, have been able to have been crafted without having to resort to faeries and djinn. I found myself really enjoying the parts of the book with the Martians (and others, whom I won't mention for spoiler), and the technologies - and skipping over the "Faerie Realm" parts. A shame.

I shall continue with this type of genre, though - I have Mark Hodder's The Strange Affair of Spring Heeled Jack sitting on the shelves - and will see what else lies out there. I'd really like to read more of Alan Baker's books, too, as this one was really well written - the story compels the reader on and the plot outline is good - it's just those darn faeries!
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Showing 1-1 of 1 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 29 Jan 2013 20:41:19 GMT
Eileen Shaw says:
Quite right - this is steampunk, a sometimes misunderstood genre and not one of my favourites. I used to worry about whether I was reading Space Opera, generic or sciFi/Fantasy, or whatever, but now I just enjoy and leave classification to the nerds.
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