Co-authors Pip Ballantine and Tee Morris ingeniously reimagine England’s Edwardian Era in Phoenix Rising—a hilarious, rip-roaring steampunk fantasy romp that the voracious fans of New York Times bestseller Gail Carriger will eagerly devour with great relish. In this outrageous, non-stop adventure, Ballantine and Morris introduce us to Agents Books and Braun of the ultra-secret Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences—the most delightful duo of very British evil-bashers since The Avengers, Emma Peel and John Steed. With its malevolent secret societies, earth-shattering conspiracies, breathtaking derring-do, and absolutely wondrous weapons, Phoenix Rising out-Sherlocks Robert Downey, Jr.’s Sherlock Holmes.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I like steampunk stories, largely because they're all a kind of alternate history. This one is especially appealing -- at least in its description -- because it also has quietly feminist elements. After all, the female protagonist is the gun-toting heroine who wears a bulletproof corset, and her partner is the bookish researcher. Plus, our hero and heroine work for a secret agency (the Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences) which serves Queen Victoria faithfully. What's not to like?
Ballentine and Morris absolutely put together an excellent premise for this novel (and the books to follow, though I haven't read them yet). There's a secret plan against the British Empire, you see. And while everyone acknowledges that Eliza Braun is a brilliant field agent, she's just a mite bit... dramatic. Especially after that excessive use of dynamite. So she's assigned to work with Wellington Books, the Archivist (who dabbles with a Babbage Analytical Engine when he can), an assignment which...
Let me get this clear up front: I enjoyed this book. It's a good rollicking yarn in the steampunk universe where the Victorians got a little further down the technological track than we normally give them credit for. The Ministry is a great concept, and I'd love to explore the archives and play with the Analytical Engine. The Kindle formatting is pretty good, too.
But there are small irritations which take the gloss off. The heroine, Miss Eliza Braun, is a New Zealander and rarely lets us forget it. Nothing wrong with being a New Zealander; I'm one myself. But we don't all constantly drink beer and call everybody 'mate'. The language overall is confused, perhaps showing a need of a good editor. Early in the book, Eliza prefaces a number of her speeches with the mysterious word 'Oye' to gain attention to what she's about to say. Fortunately she later gets over it, about the time a 'real' Londoner comes out with the much more common 'Oi!'. There's also a confusion...
These books, (of which this is the first), are fun. And not only are they fun, they can be more fun than the better known books and series, (James Bond, The Avengers), to which they are often compared.
The setting is old-fashioned, (Edwardian), steampunk, but this is one of those books in which the characters and the character interaction trump the steampunk elements. Steam provides some spice, informs the action, and allows for a number of funny or gripping, (or both), scenes, but it is not the reason for or the primary appeal of the book. For that we turn to shoot-first-and-shoot-often loose cannon Eliza Braun and careful, tidy archivist Wellington Books. (Really, Books and Braun? A tongue in cheek jest that just zips by, but gives you a sense that you're in for a clever romp.)
Here, we have conspiracies, an evil Combination, chases, escapes, derring-do, dynamite, puzzles, stiff upper lips, analytical calculating machines, gears, more dynamite and lairs. And...
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