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Customer Reviews

3.6 out of 5 stars
3.6 out of 5 stars
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on 12 October 2014
It started off well but in my opinion left too may questions unanswered. Maybe I am missing the point but I could not decide if the God vs. Lucifer conflict was the biblical Heaven against Hell or simply two opposing factions of ancient and extremely advanced aliens. The fact that human life evolved on Mars (which bears some resemblance the Barsoom of Edgar Rice Borroughs) and then spread to Earth suggests, to me at least, the Ancient Astronauts argument. The author introduces some interesting concepts such as Noah was the equivalent of a Martian backyard spaceship builder!

I liked the steampunk setting and for a light read on the sort of Boys Own level, it was fun right up until the final chapters but it seemed to come to a juddering halt just when the story was starting to get really interesting. I would I think read a sequel if these outstanding issues were resolved.
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on 4 September 2012
For the most part, this book is exactly what you imagine from the title and the imagery. It deviates in two ways:

1.) There is a running debate about Christianity throughout the book. It's a little out of place and at times clunky, but it is a debate, not a sermon or diatribe, so it shouldn't really offend, but neither does it particularly add.
2.) The middle of the story is at the beginning of the book and the beginning is in the middle. Thankfully the end had the good sense to remain at the end. I could see no reason for this other than because the author chose to arrange it this way.

I suspect that the author is American, or writing for same, so Brits might find that some of the language jars. There's some questionable history, even allowing for the deviation, and don't spend too long thinking about the physics.

These are generally minor points, and for a couple of quid you are getting a fast paced adventure story of Victorian soldiers on Mars that mostly delivers.
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on 28 November 2012
I would not normally trouble myself to write a bad review but I bought this based on the ratings and that was a mistake.

This book is very poorly written, the core concepts (though fine in themselves) jar so badly it just fails to work. The characters are utterly two dimensional and behave according to the requirements of the plot, not the other way around. There may be action in the story but there is no drama at all, and the protagonist is just a Mary Sue.

There is also the more-than-usual lack of real understanding of British Victorian society when written about by Americans - sorry but even the good non-British writers (even the Canadians) manage to get it wrong to some extent (and their editors don't notice because they're not British either). Usually it's tolerable but in this case it's just ignorance without any attempt at understanding.

I admire anyone who actually gets a book finished but that doesn't mean it's good enough to publish and this is a case in point. Ultimately this book is just a badly put-together vehicle for the personal viewpoint of the author.
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on 16 August 2013
Recently got into this "steam-punk" Sci-Fi and read the reviews on this "book". I did enjoy the story very much -however, I think the author may be American who doesn't "do" research. There are a number of incorrect historical references here which certainly jar and detract from the story. The construction of the book is also weird as well. This was obviously written using a Wordprocessor that the author is unfamiliar with. There are large white spaces where paragraphs have been kept together as well as different sized fonts employed. The author also uses Bold and Underline to add stress to a particular word. New chapters also begin in odd places. This was very obviously not proof-read before printing (I'm surprised the publisher allowed this to go to print in this state). 4 stars for the story, minus star for book construction.
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on 31 December 2013
This review is based on an advance review copy, supplied the the British Fantasy Society review team by the author.

This was a very interesting one to read. Had I realised going in that the author's book contained a fairly heavy Christian, Creationist message, I might not have bothered. Having already started the book, I decided that, since I was quite happy to read horror novels in which Christianity played a great part in rallying the forces of good against the supernatural evil, it would hardly be fair of me to let my personal atheist biases prevent me from giving this book a fair chance. I'm quite glad I did.

M.E. Brines is by no means a bad writer. He creates an interesting steampunk scenario, in which Earth sent colonies to Mars in the late 19th century. It has to be said that, while there are indeed several Earth nations competing for whatever benefits they might glean from this situation, the integration with the primitive Martian population is a lot more diplomatic and respectful than real history suggests would have been likely.

The hero, David McLaughlin, is a likeable character. He joined the Queen's Martian Rifles regiment, rather than follow his parents wishes to enter the clergy, out of a need to do more good than he could see himself achieving from a pulpit. Refreshingly, he's not the typical square-jawed, athletic hero, in fact he's quite "portly", as the author puts it. He soon finds that the rest of his regiment is in a sad state, having been allowed to fall into slovenly ways, due to their snobbish, drunken officers not doing their job. McLaughlin runs into a lot of class-based prejudice from his superiors. Brines does a reasonable job of arguing against this sort of social bigotry, along with sexism and racism. One suspects that he felt a need to show his reasonable, non-bigoted side, before he attempted to portray the "evidence" for his religious standpoint. McLaughlin is very much the everyman of the book, in that he believes in God, but doesn't really see any problem with rationalising this with evolution and extraterrestrial life. He represents the reader who Brines possibly hopes to influence with the rationalisation of Creationism that lies at the heart of this story.

The first part of the book starts in the middle and lands our hero and heroine in deep trouble. Part two is a flashback, where McLaughlin muses on his first meeting with the feisty heroine en route to Mars. Lady Rebecca "B" Bryce is a militant suffragette and archeologist, who also happens to be an atheist, who is out to find evidence to prove her Von Danikenesque theories on the extraterrestrial origins of the human race. Brines is a little heavy-handed in the way he depicts her constant assumptions that anything the hero does to help is based on the belief that a mere woman is incapable of doing anything for herself. He is to be commended, however, for not automatically making all the non-believers in the book villains.

The villain of the piece is none other than "the wickedest man in the world", Aleister Crowley. Sadly, Crowley never really manages to be the major villain he should be, in that he has a few conversations with the other characters, turns up at a sacrifice in a Martian temple, then runs away. To be honest, the book would have survived quite well without Aleister, who was really only there to put forward the pro-Lucifer viewpoint.

There's a certain amount of religious discussion in this part, which is helped along by the inclusion of a Christian missionary, who plans on converting the indigenous Martians. Brines does a reasonable job of putting forward the beliefs of all sides in a fair manner.

The third part starts out well enough. Brines writes good, exciting action scenes. I found the Christian bent of the book didn't hinder my enjoyment of a rollicking good, pulpy steampunk yarn too much at all. There are places where the author's evident enjoyment in the fast-paced action makes him forget the period and McLaughlin starts to sound very modern, almost American in places.

After the battle on Mars is over, it all starts to fall apart a bit. The hero suddenly comes to realise how the evil, Lucifer-worshipping Martians have set into motion the intended destruction of Earth. Frankly their method was a real knockout blow to my suspension of disbelief. One hardly expects steampunk to be a hundred per cent scientifically feasible, but this was as silly as a 1950s Superman comic book. I suppose, on reflection, that is wasn't any sillier than the ideas found in the proto science fiction tales of the 19th century, but I feel we tend to expect more in the twenty-first century, even when the book is set over a hundred years in the past.

It's not much of a spoiler to reveal that the hero does indeed save the day and the world. The absolute silliest moment in the entire book, is when "B" suddenly accepts all the evidence that there is a Devil, therefore there is a God and the Creationists were right all along. And isn't this wonderful? And she can't wait to get home and help spread the word.

The thing is, it's not the Christian bent of the book that will put people off. We've all read many, many books in which the heroes believe in God. I've never found that particularly off-putting as a non-believer. After all, I have good friends who believe. The problem for most people, and I include most of the Christian readers here, is in the Creationist concept, that evolution is nonsense and God created the World, including mankind, in just six days.

Still, I did enjoy the book for the most part.
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on 3 November 2013
Firstly, anyone from Victorian Scotland would spell color with a 'u'.

Secondly, what I thought was going to be a steampunk/archeology adventure turned out to be pretty much a novel length advert for Christianity. Some of the story elements were interesting and the larger than life protagonist mostly makes up for the wooden female character but the plot seemed to be more of a vehicle to spread a faith than anything else, which is not what I was looking for when I bought this based on the blurb.
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on 14 May 2014
Started well, but even for the genre, ludicrous. We can accept alternative interpretations in SF, but this belongs in the Jules Verne era, flying in the face of what is known about the planet Mars. Then when it dawns on you that this is just a clumsy evangelical christian polemic, it collapses even further into the absurd. A writer to be avoided at all costs.
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on 17 October 2015
Quite a pleasant read. A bit predictable but nicely written with a few good twists, equating mars with 19thC Shanghai and the indian cast system. The native helper should have been a water carrier after calling him Din.
So, nothing new, but a decent way to pass the time.
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on 2 September 2013
A good story that was my very first excursion into books on the Kindle, I found it well structured and written, poses the interesting view of the Victorian British empire as a space faring entity in the 19th century.
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on 1 September 2014
I'd just like to thank you for publishing this book. After reading TQMR I've decided to have a go at Kindle publishing myself.
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