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Archive for 'Alternate History'

The Nobleman’s Guide to Scandal and Shipwrecks

The Nobleman’s Guide to Scandal and Shipwrecks (2021) Mackenzi Lee (Montague Siblings) Nearly 20 years have passed since Monty (and then Felicity) fled England and their father. In the mean time, their younger brother has grown into an adult–but one with his own problems. Adrian has struggled with his mind his entire life, but after […]

Throne of Jade

Throne of Jade (2006) Naomi Novik (Temeraire) Set in an alternate timeline, 1805 After the Chinese discovered that their treasured dragon egg ended up with an English naval captain, they started insisting Temeraire be returned to China. However, Temeraire will not be separated from Lawrence. First, a major chunk of this book is the journey […]

His Majesty’s Dragon

His Majesty’s Dragon (2006) Naomi Novik (Temeraire) Set during the Napoleonic Wars, but with dragons. Michael has been listening to the Aubrey–Maturin series, and I wasn’t quite up for that, but decide that a revisiting of Temeraire would fit the bill. Captain Will Laurence of the HMS Reliant does not expect his life to be […]

A Case of Possession

A Case of Possession (2014) KJ Charles (A Charm of Magpies) “An honest mandarin.” There was a dubious murmur at that. Most of those present regarded bribery as something between a handy tool and a form of tax; none of them had high opinions of mandarins of any nationality. “I beg your pardon,” he began, […]

The Magpie Lord

The Magpie Lord (2013) KJ Charles (A Charm of Magpies) I can’t bear it. He’d never said the words in thirty-seven years, not even in the times of hunger and degradation. He wanted to say them now. Merrick frowned. “Got to fight it, my lord.” “Fight what? Give me something to fight, and I’ll fight […]

Lady Mechanika Volume 6: Sangre

Lady Mechanika Volume 6: Sangre (2020) by Joe Benitez, M.M. Chen, Brian Ching, Martin Montiel Lady Mechanika has taken a case in Spain. And she goes alone, because Mister Lewis is still not speaking to her, refusing to forgive her the actions she took in the previous book. The story opens 500 years previously, in […]

Turning Darkness Into Light

Turning Darkness Into Light (2019) Marie Brennan Audrey Camherst, grand-daughter of the famous Lady Trent, is a scholar in her own right. But it’s so hard when I can feel everyone looking at me, waiting to see what I’ll do. Not my family, of course; if I decided I wanted to retire to a country […]

Gunpowder Alchemy

Gunpowder Alchemy (2014) Jeannie Lin Set in China in 1850 It has taken me a really long time to read this; it’s been my lunch-time reading book, but I don’t always read at lunch, and after lunch I walk and listen to either an audiobook or podcasts. So–maybe I’ve been reading this for a year? […]

Within the Sanctuary of Wings

Within the Sanctuary of Wings (2017) Marie Brennan Lady Trent has become a force in her own right–she has made amazing discoveries and published scientific papers, yet she still has not be accepted by the Fellow of the Philosophers’ Colloquium. She has also become political, no matter how unwittingly. (W)e cannot pretend the education of […]

In the Labyrinth of Drakes: A Memoir by Lady Trent

In the Labyrinth of Drakes: A Memoir by Lady Trent (2016) Marie Brennan The 4th book in Lady Trent’s memoirs finds her traveling with Will to Akhia to attempt to start a dragon breeding program. (I suppose I should offer fair warning. Because this volume of my memoirs concerns itself with my research in Akhia, […]

Voyage of the Basilisk

Voyage of the Basilisk (2015) Marie Brennan The third installment of the Memoirs of Lady Trent finds Isabella on a ship with her son, his governess, and her friend Tom Wilker touring the world while continuing her research on dragons. I found my quarters at first shockingly small, then acceptable, then unbearable, and finally as […]

Swordspoint

Swordspoint (1987) Ellen Kushner I have no idea what brings it on, but I’ve been in one of those moods where I read a few paragraphs of a book, decide I’m not in the mood for it, and try something else. As is typically, I have to resort to something I know I love, so […]

From the Editorial Page of the Falchester Weekly Review

From the Editorial Page of the Falchester Weekly Review (2016) Marie Brennan This short story is a series of scientific letters between Isabella Camherst and Benjamin Talbot in “The Falchester Weekly Review” about a supposed discovery made by Talbot. It’s a brief story, and silly, since it’s all the politeness of scientists accusing each other […]

Bridge of Birds: A Novel of an Ancient China That Never Was

Bridge of Birds: A Novel of an Ancient China That Never Was (1984) Barry Hughart Set in the Middle Kingdom of China, Year of the Tiger 3337 (AD 639) All the children in the village between the ages of eight and thirteen have fall victim to an unknown illness, and all the silkworms have died, […]

The Tropic of Serpents

The Tropic of Serpents (2014) Marie Brennan The second novel in the Lady Trent series finds Isabella preparing to go on another scientific journey–this one to Eriga, where they hope to document other types of dragons. The warnings delivered in my first foreword continue to apply: if you are likely to be deterred by descriptions […]

The Far West

The Far West (2012) Patricia C. Wrede There are plans for a new expedition to explore and research the Far West, and they’re looking for scientists and others with experience to join. In my experience, the things everybody knows are just exactly the ones that are most likely to be mistaken in some important way […]

Across the Great Barrier

Across the Great Barrier (2011) Patricia C. Wrede Eff Rothmer has returned to Mill City, and much to her chagrin, people are calling her a hero, for the work she did in coming up with a way to destroy the mirror bug infestation. BEING A HEROINE IS NOWHERE NEAR THE FUN FOLKS MAKE IT OUT […]

Thirteenth Child

Thirteenth Child (2009) Patricia C. Wrede This story is set in an alternate US (North Columbia) in the mid-1800s. (T)he Columbian Presidents past the first five—George Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, Eduard Baier, and Herman Augustus Morton. Eff is the twin of a seventh son, and also a thirteenth child. EVERYBODY KNOWS THAT A SEVENTH […]

A Natural History of Dragons: A Memoir by Lady Trent

A Natural History of Dragons: A Memoir by Lady Trent (2013) Marie Brennan After publishing many scientific papers upon the natural history of dragons, Lady Trent has finally decided to write her memoirs. This is a fantasy set in a world somewhat like ours, only with dragons, and at a time and place comparable to […]

River of Stars

River of Stars (2013) Guy Gavriel Kay I had forgotten just how melancholy the end of this book was. That doesn’t make the book any less good, but it did leave me craving something happy when I finished it. As with all Guy Gavriel Kay books, there are a variety of characters you follow over […]

Under Heaven

Under Heaven (2010) Guy Gavriel Kay With bronze as a mirror one can correct one’s appearance; with history as a mirror, one can understand the rise and fall of a state; with good men as a mirror, one can distinguish right from wrong. —LI SHIMIN, TANG EMPEROR TAIZONG Guy Gavriel Kay’s writing is always epic, […]

Lord of Emperors

Lord of Emperors (2000) Guy Gavriel Kay The sequel to Sailing to Sarantium. The second half of this story opens in Bassania, with the King of Kings suffering an arrow to the shoulder. Had any other patient been shown to them in this state, the physicians would all have spoken the words of formal withdrawal: […]

Sailing to Sarantium

Sailing to Sarantium (1998) Guy Gavriel Kay Guy Gavriel Kay is an incredible writer. He doesn’t wrote epic fantasy in the sense of swords and sorcerey–in fact there is often no magic in his stories. He instead researches a subject an a time period and grounds his story in those elements, while writing of a […]

Queen Victoria’s Book of Spells: An Anthology of Gaslamp Fantasy

Queen Victoria’s Book of Spells: An Anthology of Gaslamp Fantasy (2013) Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling Queen Victoria’s Book of Spells by Delia Sherman The Fairy Enterprise by Jeffrey Ford From the Catalogue of the Pavilion of the Uncanny and Marvellous, Scheduled for Premiere at the Great Exhibition (Before the Fire) by Genevieve Valentine The […]

Valour and Vanity

Valour and Vanity (2014) Mary Robinette Kowal Set in Alternate Regency Venice in 1817. After traveling with Melody, her new husband, and Jane’s parent’s for part of their wedding Tour… “You must not go!” Mrs. Ellsworth came to a stop in front of them with a hand pressed to her bosom. “Charles, tell them they […]

Without a Summer

Without a Summer (2013) Mary Robinette Kowal Set in Alternate Regency England in 1816, during the Year without a Summer. The third Glamourist History finds Jane and Vincent back in London, with a new commission and with Melody as a visitor, in the hopes she’ll find a husband. There were some interesting bits about Glamour […]

Glamour in Glass

Glamour in Glass (2012) Mary Robinette Kowal Set in alternate Regency England in 1815. Following their marriage, Jane and Vincent have come to the attention of the Prince Regent, and commissioned to create a Glamour for his ballroom, which makes them even more popular, so it is a surprise when they leave for the Continent […]

Shades of Milk and Honey

Shades of Milk and Honey (2010) Mary Robinette Kowal Set in Alternate Regency England ~1814. The first time I read this, it was immediately following a Guy Gavriel Kay book, and so this story suffered in comparison. Nothing against Mary Robinette Kowal, it’s just that Guy Gavriel Kay is that good. So searching for something […]

Magic and Manners

Magic and Manners (2016) C.E. Murphy Set in alternate Regency England, with magic. First, I really liked the magic and world-building. Magic is stigmatized in England, worked only by the lower-classes who are useful to the crown in warfare. The new Mrs Dover marked no complaints about a home   where the tea remained mysteriously […]

Tremontaine: Season One Volume One

Tremontaine: Season One Volume One (2016) by Patty Bryant, Joel Derfner, Alaya Dawn Johnson, Ellen Kushner, Malinda Lo, Racheline Maltese and Paul Witcover Let me explain… No, let me sum up. There is a book called Swordspoint by Ellen Kushner that is one of my favorites–a comfort read. After Swordspoint came The Fall of the […]

The Escapement of Blackledge

The Escapement of Blackledge (2016) Mary Robinette Kowal Set in alternate Regency London The Duke of Blackledge does NOT want to attend his coming-of-age birthday party, however, his mother is insistent. But there is only so much he can take, so he escapes to his laboratory where he works on his automatons, only to find […]

A Matter of Magic

A Matter of Magic (2010): Mairelon the Magician (1991) and The Magician’s Ward (1997) Patricia C. Wrede Kim has been living on the streets, hiding the fact she’s a girl, and living by her wits as best she can. When she is offered a small fortune to check out the wagon of a traveling magician, […]

Sabriel

Sabriel (1995) Garth Nix Sabriel is the daughter of Abhorsen–the Charter necromancer who puts the restless dead beyond the ninth gate. She has been sent outside of the walls of the Old Kingdom for her education, seeing her father in person only a few times a year, but seeing him in death more frequently, as […]

The Far West

The Far West (2012) Patricia C. Wrede The final book finds Eff grown up, but still unsure what to do with herself, even though she has come to terms with being a thirteenth child. Sometimes I couldn’t help thinking that the unluckiest thing about being a thirteenth child was having all those older brothers and […]

Across the Great Barrier

Across the Great Barrier (2011) Patricia C. Wrede The sequel to Thirteenth Child finds Eff coming to terms with her magic, and slowly discovering her dream–to travel the West, beyond the Great Barrier, studying the wildlife in that untamed area. Luckily for her, the events of the previous book have given her some leeway as […]