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The Bullet-Catcher's Daughter: The Fall of the Gas-Lit Empire, Book 1 Mass Market Paperback – August 26, 2014

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Product Details

  • Series: The Fall of the Gas-Lit Empire (Book 1)
  • Mass Market Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Angry Robot (August 26, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0857665308
  • ISBN-13: 978-0857665300
  • Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 1 x 6.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (29 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #234,541 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


“Steeped in illusion and grounded in an alternative history of the Luddite Rebellion, Duncan’s strong supernatural mystery serves ably as both a standalone adventure and the start to a series…Strategically placed steampunk tropes inform but do not overwhelm Elizabeth’s headlong quest to find a missing aristocrat sought by the Patent Office, which is fixated on both achieving perfection and eliminating “unseemly science.” A hazardous border crossing into the permissively corrupt Kingdom of England and Southern Wales provides ample excitement, and a glossary at the novel’s conclusion hints enticingly at a much more involved story to come.”
Publishers Weekly

“I was completely caught up in her adventure and her plight. I think steampunk readers and fantasy/sci-fi readers will enjoy this one, so I’m recommending it for them even though (and to some extent because) its use of steampunk is a bit different. I found it to be a refreshing change from more formulaic steampunk novels.”
Popcorn Reads

“A detective story with a difference … Chapters begin with quotes from the legendary Bullet-Catcher’s Handbook, phrases that introduce not only the idea of illusion that pervades the novel, but also the author’s sly humour. [Duncan’s misdirection is] subtly and well done, all the way through the book, right to a neat little twist at the end, a play on the title that had me nodding in approval. Each [character] is vividly portrayed, lively enough to feel like the heroes of their own stories, all with distinctive voices; it’s always a good sign when you find yourself reading dialogue out loud, rolling your lips and tongue around the words. Rod Duncan’s talent has combined inventive plot and characterisation to create a smart, amusing and fascinating tale that had me reading long into the night.”
Fantasy Faction

“It’s all steampunk and circus wonder as we follow the adventures of Elizabeth Barnabas.The double crosses along the way keep the plot tight and fun, and the conclusion sets us up nicely for book two.”
The Washington Post, Best New Science Fiction and Steampunk

About the Author

Rod Duncan is a published crime writer. His first novel Backlash was shortlisted for the CWA John Creasey Dagger, and he has since written three other novels (all Simon & Schuster UK), and had his first screenplay produced.

His background is in scientific research and computing, and he lives in Leicester.

You can find Rod online at follow him @RodDuncan on Twitter.

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Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
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See all 29 customer reviews
This book was an unexpected pleasure to read.
Overall, it is a wonderful story that I would recommend to anyone even remotely interested in speculative fiction.
Monica Mileti
Engaging characters, interesting plot twists, and plenty of action.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

28 of 28 people found the following review helpful By Robin Snyder on August 26, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition
3.5 Stars

I really enjoy a good story about cross dressing. When done well I find the social dynamic changes between being male and female fascinating. The Bullet Catcher's Daughter is done well. The background of Elizabeth and the explanations of her mannerisms make it believable.

-- Men fancy that they recognize a woman by dress, figure and face but it is more through movement that gender is revealed.

Elizabeth was brought up in a traveling circus and learned very young the art of being both herself and her alter ego imaginary twin brother Edwin. She knows that it isn't so much what the costume is if you can't deliver the walk and talk to go along with it. It is a subtle shift and she has practiced it so many times that she can do a quick change from one to the other in the span of a few seconds.

On her own for the last four years Elizabeth lives on a boat in a warf and is dutiful sister by day and her brother a private investigator by night. While she wishes that she didn't have to play at the façade it is necessary to survive as single women do not have many opportunities.

"We worry for you," she said at last.
"There's no need."
"Mr. Simmons mentioned his concern to me at breakfast this very day. It seemed to him, and I agreed, that your brother may not have the time of the expertise to invest in your problem."
"My problem?"
"Acquiring a husband, Elizabeth. My goodness, girl, of what other problem should you be thinking?"

The Gas Light Empire is an alternate future where the industrial revolution never happened and instead there was a war that separated England. Everything is still powered by steam, gas and animals.
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful By the GreatReads! TOP 500 REVIEWER on August 26, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition
The Bullet-Catcher's Daughter by Rod Duncan, author of the Riot Trilogy, is the first book in the Fall of the Gas-Lit Empire duology and follows the story of private detective Edwin Barnabus who is hired by the Duchess of Bletchley to search for her missing brother. But in reality Edwin Barnabus is not at all Edwin Barnabus. It is Elizabeth Barnabus playing a dangerous game living a double life in order to escape the Duke of Northampton.

After she escaped to the Anglo-Scottish Republic, Eliza in the guise of her non-existent brother Edwin Barnabus becomes an investigator. She sets out on the mission to which she was tasked – to find Lady Bletchley’s brother. It seems to be a simple enough task but isn’t. The man doesn’t want to be found, especially by his sister. In the process, she encounters a lot of things including magic, circus folks, strange machines, deception, mystery, secret societies, alchemy, romance and an agent of the Patent Office plus a few incidents which put her in tight situations.

The Bullet-Catcher’s Daughter is daringly different, and though steampunk is one which I usually avoid, I was well and truly hooked. It is well-conceived and the world-building is simply awesome. The alternate history is also fascinating. Eliza is a stunning character, one that I would remember for a long time. All in all, this is a fine and well-crafted novel which you won’t want to miss.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Monica Mileti on August 27, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition
This review was originally posted on Avid Reviews:

2014 has been a great year for innovative releases in speculative fiction, and the publisher Angry Robot in particular has put out a wonderful abundance of genre-defying novels this year. One of Angry Robot’s newest releases, The Bullet Catcher’s Daughter by Rod Duncan, is no exception. This novel is the first installment of The Fall of the Gas-Lit Empire, and is Duncan’s first speculative fiction series. It is impossible to define the book within a single genre; instead it is a hybrid between alternate history, fantasy, sci-fi, and steampunk, and Duncan masterfully weaves these different genres into a wonderful story with subtle but intricate world building. From the first chapter the story takes off on an action packed adventure filled with illusion, magic, mystery, and even a traveling circus. Duncan creates a heady bouquet of story elements that will leave the reader in dire need of the next novel in the series.

The Bullet Catcher’s Daughter is the story of Elizabeth Barnabus. Her world is an alternate historical England that has been divided into two nations, and is portrayed with a blend of Victorian era sensibilities and cultural influences, and futuristic technology. Elizabeth lives a double life; she dresses up as a fictional twin brother named Edwin in order to ensure a job as a private detective. When a Duchess from the northern nation, a place Elizabeth fled years ago, hires her to find a missing aristocrat who does not wish to be found (especially by the Duchess), she is suddenly swept up in the mystery of a hoard of arcane machines. To solve the mystery she must travel with eccentric members of a wandering circus, and face the ghosts of her past.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Ardi on August 26, 2014
Format: Paperback
In this novel, Elizabeth Barnabus is a woman on her own in a world that resembles Victorian England, which is a part of The Gas-Lit Empire. As you can imagine, it’s practically impossible for Elizabeth to conduct any business, own any property, or hold a well-paying job as a single woman, so she solves this problem by masquerading as her own twin brother, a trick she learned from her father as a part of her act in a traveling circus. As a man, Elizabeth works at night as a private investigator of sorts. She’s hired to find the missing brother of an aristocratic woman, along the way, Elizabeth encounters some interesting steampunk technology as well as a legendary traveling circus run by a mysterious and possibly nefarious old man. The story moves along at a quick pace, and I found that I couldn’t put the book down for very long. This is my official introduction to the steampunk genre, and I really enjoyed it. I can’t wait to get my hands on more fiction like this, and I’m eagerly anticipating the sequel!
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