I always hope that a Ulysses Quicksilver novel will be a frenetic action packed affair. The good news is that this latest chapter certainly delivers. There are chases and fights galore all wrapped up in the outlandish sights and sounds of the Pax Britannia universe. From the outset we have everything from zeppelin chases, Russian vampires agents, philosophical lab made men to steam-powered robot pachyderms.
In this novel our regular hero takes a bit of a back seat in favour of another member of the Quicksilver clan, his father Hercules. The old adage `like father' like son' certainly seems to hold true. The story takes place when Hercules is in his prime, and we find that he is just as much the gentleman dandy/adventurer as his son becomes. Ulysses isn't actually seen in the first half of the book but that makes his arrival all the more memorable when he does finally appear.
The other characters are all great fun. The heroic women of the Monstrous Regiment inject a strong female presence, while Dr Jekyll's alter ego is an unexpected hero. The villains, a role call of suitably menacing Nazis and Gestapo types, are all larger than life but hey... this is Pax Britannia and I would expect nothing less.
I have to admit that I am always a little wary of the use of time travel in novels as I think there is a potential to lose track of the plot if things get over complicated. Fortunately, in this case everything is kept nice and simple and the events in this novel fit seamlessly into the existing time line created in previous installments.
Green's enthusiasm for the subject matter is evident on every page, you can tell that he has a blast writing these novels. The cheeky blighter delights in sprinkling his text with geeky science fiction references, and if you are anything like me you'll spot them. On more than one occasion I found myself doing a double-take, and then checking Google to confirm my suspicions about a chapter name or the description of a item.
As a final thought, I have been pondering the best way to prepare one's self for reading Anno Frankenstein. I believe there are three key tasks you have to accomplish before you begin the novel.
Listen to the theme to The Dam Busters at a high volume.
Watch Where Eagles Dare, starring Richard Burton and Clint Eastwood.
Play the first person shooter computer game Return to Castle Wolfenstein to completion.
Once you have completed these three tasks you will find yourself far more receptive to the Ulysses Quicksilver's particular brand of derring-do. I can guarantee that they will enhance your enjoyment of what is already a hugely enjoyable read.
One of Abaddon's most inventive series out there is the Pax Britannia and no one does it so well as main author Jonathan Green. You get Steampunk, you get a dandy Flashman like hero and above all else you get a series with a story arc that is not only exciting but one that you just can't put down.
This, the seventh outing for series hero Ulysses Quicksilver picks up where the last one left off with him flung through the time portal chasing Dashwood into the Second World War where the villain gives futuristic aid to the Nazi's. Whilst Ulysses is usually the main character in this title he's more secondary to his father (and also Agent of Magna Britannia, Hercules Quicksilver) takes the lead role and proceeds to keep the stiff upper lip and heroics on auto.
Add to this Dr Jekyll (who ala League of Extraordinary Gentlemen turns into the Hulk like Mr Hyde), the original creation of Baron Viktor Frankenstein as well as modern German interpretations named after the original Creator (the Frankenstein Corps) and it's a title that really doesn't let up. Finally add the twist of an ending that's reminiscent of a certain popular in the late 80's to early 90's and it pretty much ticks all the boxes. As usual with the author the prose is neat and snappy, the characters a lot of fun to hang around and above all else the dialogue and tips of the hat to modern interpretations alongside other Steampunk outings make this series what it is. Definitely one to get in on the ground floor and work your way up although if you wish to start her you can do although you'll miss a lot of the defining moments of our agents career to date.
Ulysses Quicksilver Agent of Magna Britannia, has jumped into a time vortex in pursuit of madman Daniel Dashwood, who is hell bent on sharing modern technology with Hitler and his Nazi army.
Welcome to Pax Britannia's version of World War Two, where steampunk armies battle the reanimated soldiers of The Frankenstein Corps, Dr Jekyll is a hero and The Ladies of The Monstrous Regiment strike fear into the hearts of the enemy.
This is a fun read, littered characters with names like Dashwood, Ulysses, Hercules, the swash and the buckling have ramped up to the extreme. There is a danger with novels of this type that the nods to, and insertions of popular characters can lead to a novel that is too sly for it's own good. Not the case here, this is my type of novel, the sort of story that has me grinning from ear to ear from the sheer enjoyment and thrill of the ride.
Green's Pax Britannia books have always had a habit of throwing in as many characters, creatures and contraptations as humanly possible, the only guideline that they be cool. His seventh novel takes that concept to the furthest extreme yet.
Readers of the last book (and newcomers starting with this particular installment will probably be lost) will know that instead of the alternate late nineties we're used to, this time we're back in the midst of the Second World War, or at least the PB version of it.
Our protagonist for the majority of the book is Ulysses' father Hercules, in the bloom of youth in this era. Hercules is perhaps not as flawed and interesting as his son, but his heroic brand of derring-do works with the new setting.
He's sent deep into enemy territory in an effort to stop the Nazi facility that produces their undead legions, although first he has to collect something from a cryogenic cylinder deep inside a British research facility. A cylinder marked Jekyll...
Many more characters are thrown into the mix, including a female group of elite commandos, a younger version of Russia's premier vampire agent, and Doctor Frankenstein's original creation. And that's before the mysterious Prisoner Zero (re)enters the story.
Green keeps the action setpieces coming thick and fast, and the motley assortment of villains, being Nazis, are eminently hissable. Together with the refreshing new setting, which I suspect the author will be returning to, this is possibly the best Pax novel yet.
The ending, while not being as obvious a cliffhanger as the last book, suggests that it might be a while before we return to the 'regular' storyline. On this evidence, that's no bad thing.
My first foray into the steam punk universe of Pax Britannia, but pleasingly the novel does not require you to have read the previous books, it stands well on it's own.
The main character in this book is Hercules Quicksilver, the father of Ulysses, whom I gather is the usual hero of the Pax Britannia books.
He teams up with a bunch of female commando's known as the Monster Squad and Dr Jekyll / Mr Hyde and a female vampire, battling the Nazi's and their reanimated undead army inspired by the works of Dr. Frankenstein. Ulysses turns up from the future along the way, but he is very much a secondary character in this novel and also the original Fankenstein's Monster turns up and he's not happy.
An easy book to get into and a hugely enjoyable read and I will now be seeking out the further books in this series. Packed with action and adventure this is like a novel version of a 2000AD comic and I don't mean that in a bad way.
This where it all started for me, seeing the novel for a few quid and the title catching my eye. Then I found out how many others I would have to read 1st before I got to that point but the series has been well worth the money. At the end of the last 1 "Dark Side", Ulysses Quicksilver found himself in Nazi Germany where he hopes to prevent history being changed. This is the steampunk version of the Third Reich and 2nd World war so there is no cameo from El Sombra.
For over half the novel Ulysses isn't present and after a teaser giving us a glimpse of the mess he's in, we follow his father Hercules' story. Flying into Germany with the infamous Dr Jekyll for company Hercules tries to uncover information about the Third Reich's plans. He uncovers an insane plan to turn dead soldiers into monsters, semi-cybernetic variants of the work of the original Victor Frankenstein. There are plenty more monsters too but even that isn't the half of it.
Naturally this is a block buster mix that we have come to expect of monsters and set pieces and does not disappoint, Green handling all the ingredients with his usual skill.
1 thing I noticed is he's quite fond of chinless wonders type commanders.
The 2 Quicksilvers do meet but you'll have to read it yourself to see how that goes.
There is no bonus story but then this is a pretty full on adventure, paying tribute to Mary Shelley's original novel and some film adaptations too.
We have a cliff hanger to lead into Time's Arrow at the end.
I've now read all of the Pax Britannia series,including this stomach churning special,and I'm starting to turn into a bit of a steampunk fan-boy.I wont attempt to describe the plot,as it's as complicated as only a time-traveller's tale can be. Suffice it to say there's the usual mixture of SF, fantasy, and horror,and if you liked the other Quicksilver novels, you'll like this.Roll on the next one!
Loved it. Everything Jonathan does well with his writing jumps forward with bells on in this riveting adventure and you are treated to a whole new spin on both the Characters and the history of this thrilling world.