The Family Trade (Merchant Princes 1) Paperback – Unabridged, 2 Nov 2007
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'Fantasies with this much invention, wit and gusto don't come along every day.'
'One of the defining phenomena of twenty-first century SF is Charles Stross, for the quality of his work at its best...'
About the Author
Charles Stross lives with his wife in Edinburgh. In addition to working as a writer of fiction he has worked as a technical author, freelance journalist, programmer, and pharmacist. He holds degrees in Pharmacy and Computer Science. His short fiction has been shortlisted for both the Hugo and Nebula awards.
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Top Customer Reviews
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.Read more ›
Then reading more I began to expect a typical American power fantasy about bootstrapping a civilisation.
Dimension travelling drug dealers throw down against the USA. I didn't see that coming.
I actually nearly read this a few times and put it down because the blurb on the back put me off. If instead it had said 'an investigation of how knowledge of startups, VCs and economic development can be applied in alternate histories to give you an edge in business.' I would have been much more interested.
So yes, it's far from Stross's best, but ultimately, there's something very cool about knights in armour with machine guns and the entertainment for a medieval feast being shown on a Sony flat screen. It's well worth a read as long as your expectation level is right.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This was okay but did not really hold my attention and was clearly setting up for a series. The plot is a straightforward blend of Conquistador by Stirling and The Man Behind the... Read morePublished on 10 Nov. 2013 by Clare O'Beara
Half way thru the first chapter I thought this was going to be a superficial read but the characters deepen and the story line opens up quite quickly. Read morePublished on 8 April 2013 by Mr. Paul Ronan
Despite the score, this book is readable and lightly engrossing. A complex series of stages is introduced to the reader, in a formulaic fashion. Read morePublished on 9 Dec. 2012 by J.H.Barnard
I like this, read it first as a library book, and have now bought it for a second read. That's despite its obvious flaws. Read morePublished on 29 Oct. 2010 by Robert Brenchley
I've read other stories by Charles Stross and enjoyed them. This is a very enjoyable fantasy, albeit with only a very small piece of magic - the bulk of the story is firmly based... Read morePublished on 1 Dec. 2009 by Nick
The cover of my copy says it's a fantasy, despite the crucial points all stemming from technological differences between worlds, demonstrating once again that there's no real... Read morePublished on 2 Jun. 2009 by D. R. Cantrell
Oof. I bought this because Paul Krugman - of all people - personally recommended it, and my first reaction was that Paul should be a bit more careful with his endorsements. Read morePublished on 20 Feb. 2009 by S. Matthews