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The Hidden Institute (Noblesse Oblige Book 1) [Kindle Edition]

Brand Gamblin
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)

Kindle Price: $4.98
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Book Description

Rising above your station can be deadly.

Cliffy is a child born on the streets of a Neo-Victorian world. Witnesses to a murder, he blackmails a nobleman, receiving a unique bribe. In exchange for his silence, the nobleman introduces him to the Malcolm Rutherford Holden Institute of Regentrification. There, Cliffy learns to walk, talk, and act like a nobleman, so that he may infiltrate high society. But that type of fraud is punishable by death, and when Cliffy uncovers a plot to assassinate a head of state, he's hunted by more than just the aristocracy.

Royal intrigue, daring escapes, sub-dermal machines, and bear polo. A grand adventure in a not-so-distant world.

Note: This version also contains the short story "The Kody's Shame: or Let Sleeping Bears Lie". The short features one of the main characters from The Hidden Institute, as he tries to unravel who is doping the mobs polo bears (that sentence makes a lot more sense after you've read the book).

2011 Parsec Award Finalist for Best Speculative Fiction Story (Novella Form)

Product Details

  • File Size: 483 KB
  • Print Length: 366 pages
  • Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
  • Publisher: Big C Productions; 1 edition (March 8, 2011)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B004R9QUQ8
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #777,840 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
4.3 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Neo Victorian intrigue October 29, 2011
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This book is set in the far future on another world, with a culture in some ways similar to Victorian England despite having some more advanced technology mixed in. The protagonist catches a noble in a compromising position, and as a blackmail payment offers him a ticket to a secret school for 'regentrification', which will teach him to pretend he is a member of the upper class, and get a well paid job of some sort.

The best part of the book is the middle. There are a lot of amusing scenes in the hidden school, with the friends and enemies he makes. If this sounds good to you, you might enjoy this book, but it has flaws. The slang that the author invented for his lower class sometimes doesn't sound plausible, perhaps too verbose.

There are a few other weaknesses as well. The romance seems artificial (she instantly fell in love with him WHY?), and the ending seems a little tacked on and too easy, since he just sort of stumbles into a situation to do something huge and climactic which he hasn't actively been seeking most of the book.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A true page-turner and not to be missed March 30, 2011
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
In his first book, Tumbler, author Brand Gamblin took us on a journey into the far reaches of our solar system. Now, in The Hidden Institute, he shows us a future much closer to home. In it we follow a young street-smart boy as he is whisked off to the Holden Institute for Regentrification. A shadowy school that attempts to teach our young hero, Cliffy, to become this world's most dangerous sort of criminal: a lower class interloper in the ranks of the nobility.

Brand paints for us a fascinating portrait of a society where the class systems of nineteenth century Europe have reemerged with a vengeance and technology has progressed on a micro, rather than a macro, scale. The plot flows smoothly as young Cliffy is swept along through the process of becoming an aristocrat. Even as his own defiant nature rails against the authority figures that represent the very thing he is to become.

The narrative is smooth and the dialog is filled with wonderfully colorful dialect that is not hard to read. The characters are fresh and boldly portrayed. I found myself rooting for the hero and wondering just who the bad guys really were. The Hidden Institute is a true page-turner and not to be missed.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Read April 3, 2011
Format:Kindle Edition
As a fan of Gamblin's last novel "Tumbler" It was with some trepidation that I approached "The Hidden Institue", the author had decided to change genre from Space Opera to Steampunk.
I needn't have worried, this accessible coming of age saga was such a fun read, It felt a bit like a cross between Tom Brown's Schooldays and Stephenson's "The Diamond Age".
The Author's second outing is if anything even better than his first novel and I'm looking forward to finding out what he does next.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Class Struggle March 19, 2011
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Brand Gamblin has created a world that's part Anthony Burgess, part Michael Moorecock, and all original. In this gritty imagining of a steamy distopia, Brand weaves intrigue and romance, danger and wry wit into a commentary on contemporary society. As Cliffy struggles to rise above his working class roots, he encounters rakes and scoundrels, ignoble nobility and caring assassins.

He even learns bear polo.

I've been waiting for this book to come out for a long time and have enjoyed watching it develop from the germ of an idea to a full-throated roar of a novel.

[transparency disclaimer: I have no financial interest in this work. I'm biased. I know Brand. I designed the cover. I told him about the parts that sucked before he published the book and he changed 'em. I think you should grab a sample anyway and make up your own mind.]
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
By Katya
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Dickensian street urchins! Dystopian, steampunk, quasi-Victorian world! Bear polo! Witty, Jeeves-like robot butlers! Tattooed assassins! Balls! Intrigue! Illegal, underground school for the upwardly socially mobile! What's not to like?

What kept this book from being a 4 star book?
- There were transitions where I was left scratching my head wondering if my copy of the book was missing a chapter or two.
- The pacing seemed erratic.
- The first half of the book, where Cliffy spoke in street slang, was tough to read. A little dialect is good -- too much made reading a chore.

On the whole the book was amusing, funny, quirky, enough that I was glad I read it. I wish I could give 3.5 stars because this book is right on the border between "I liked it" and "I really liked it". I hope that the next book in the series (this is a series, right?) will be a more polished, smoother read.
'If you're looking for something a little different. A little quirky. And don't mind a book that is a little rough around the edges, read this one.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Delighted. June 26, 2012
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This is one of those books you simply must tell others to read. It was entertaining from start to finish with a main character who is just the kind of person who would live in a steampunk world. You'll not regret buying this book.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars More Please November 19, 2011
Format:Kindle Edition
The Hidden Institute is a very different kind of book, it's not quite steampunk and it's not quite dystopian, it's plain awesome is what it is. What if the aristocracy never faced from society, what if in the near future we were held to these class rules? How would anyone get ahead? They'd cheat. Read on and see what I mean, also, there is BEAR POLO! Who doesn't want to read about BEAR POLO?

My only complaint is that this book needs another 50K words, I want more of this world. So hopefully the author can bring us sequels? Or other stories set in the world? Please?
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars A Great Ride!
I heard about this first through a promo on another podcast, and it grabbed my attention so that I had to read/listen to it. And I am so glad I did! Read more
Published 10 months ago by August
4.0 out of 5 stars Fun read!
The story is different and fun to read. The characters are engaging and the premise is very interesting - a really different take on the British class system. Read more
Published on February 27, 2013 by L. Sanders
4.0 out of 5 stars A fun read
It starts at a good pace and keeps moving. Not great literature but definately an entertaining book. worth the price.
Published on January 31, 2013 by D Erickson
4.0 out of 5 stars Decent sci fi
This was a pretty decent work of science fiction. A good mix of olden days and those of the future.the story moves well without dead places, and is worth reading.
Published on January 8, 2013 by John Shearer
1.0 out of 5 stars Awkward Style, Slow Start
Title of this review says it all. Based on the reviews, I was expecting a polished page-turner. Instead I found repetitive, lifeless prose and nothing remotely intriguing in the... Read more
Published on August 28, 2012 by A L BLAIR
5.0 out of 5 stars Highly entertaining and a good bedtime story as well
This book is an excellent read for young and old plenty of adventure and mystery for the kids (and young at heart) and plenty of social commentary for those who enjoy a good... Read more
Published on August 17, 2012 by Amazon Customer
4.0 out of 5 stars It's a fun read, but it could have been better.
Brand Gamblin has created a unique universe for this interesting novel. There is advanced technology such as automatons and vehicles called jumpers. There are lunar colonies. Read more
Published on June 25, 2012 by Michael S. Kraus
4.0 out of 5 stars 5-star story with a 1-star annoyance
The story is good, the characters make sense, the pacing is appropriate, and the world-building is interesting. So why did I not give this book 5 stars? Read more
Published on May 19, 2012 by Marcy L. Thompson
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Surprise!
I really enjoyed reading this novel. I ordered it for free on my Kindle and waited a long time to begin to actually read it, and I wish I had read it earlier. Read more
Published on May 11, 2012 by MichelleMarie
5.0 out of 5 stars Rise ABOVE your station and READ this Book!
This was really fun read!

Mystery, Action, Adventure!

See Cliffy Face a Mysterious Opposition, Romance, Humor, Wit, (Oh, and Assassins too! Read more
Published on March 2, 2012 by Tobias E. Queen (Voice For Hire)
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More About the Author

Brand Gamblin was born in San Antonio in 1973. He spent most of his youth in Texas, earning a bachelors degree in Computer Science from Texas Tech University.

Following college, he achieved his boyhood dream of working as a video game programmer. For the next decade, he published games for such companies as Microprose, Acclaim, and Firaxis.

In his spare time, Brand created the YouTube video cult classic, "Calls For Cthulhu", which has thousands of followers worldwide, and has been nominated for several film awards.

Brand's books are generally sci-fi, with some fantasy elements. They range from the near future of asteroid mining to the distant Neo-Victorian era.

In addition to the books he has published, Brand has a steampunk retelling of George Orwell's 1984 which is still waiting on permission from the Orwell estate before it can be published.

Odd Facts:

* For his minor acting roles, Brand Gamblin has a Kevin Bacon score of 6.

* In week one of the 2685 Galactic Football League season, Bran-Gam-Blin was named Defensive Player of the Week.

* Brand's oldest recorded writing was some bad Fraggle Rock Fanfic written when he was a child.

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