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Comment: Good condition, wear from reading and use. All pages are intact, and the cover is intact and has some creases. The spine has signs of wear and creases. This copy may include From the library of labels, stickers or stamps and be an ex-library copy.
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The Incrementalists Hardcover – September 24, 2013

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

*Starred Review* A secret society has existed for millennia, operating under the surface of society. The Incrementalists are improving the world by making slight adjustments that make human existence a bit better than it might have been. During the Civil War, they influenced one of General Grant’s right-hand men so that he would keep Grant from succumbing to his affection for alcohol. They had a hand in the invention of the MP3 format, and they practically invented Robin Hood. But now they have a major problem on their hands. One of their own, who recently died, might have been murdered, and the woman who was given her memories paradoxically doesn’t seem to be able to remember her. Even worse, it looks like the dead woman has somehow manipulated the Incrementalists (or, to be more precise, Phil, who has loved her for centuries) into putting her memories into a very specific young woman for a very specific and quite troubling, possibly catastrophic, reason. It’s difficult to categorize this imaginative new novel from established sf/fantasy novelist Brust and newcomer White. It’s not quite a comedy, but bits of it are quite funny. It’s a fantasy, to be sure, but it’s grounded in today’s world and references real historical events. It’s cleverly constructed, populated with characters readers will enjoy hanging out with, and packed with twists and nifty surprises. If you have to call it something, call it genius at work. --David Pitt


"Spare, dangerous, strangely whimsical, damn fine. Read this. It's good."
—Elizabeth Bear on The Incrementalists

"Powerful, manipulative and yet oh-so-very-human, the Incrementalists are my favorite secret society ever. This book is the perfect introduction to these imperfect history makers, with Brust and White as charming, knowing guides to their world."
—John Scalzi on The Incrementalists

"Delightful, exciting, and sometimes brilliant, Steven Brust is the latest in a line of great Hungarian writers, which (I have no doubt) includes Alexandre Dumas, C. S. Forester, Mark Twain, and the author of the juciest bits of the Old Testament."
—Neil Gaiman

"Steven Brust might just be America's best fantasy writer."
—Tad Williams

"As always, Brust invests Vlad with the panache of a Dumas musketeer and the colloquial voice of one of Zelazny's Amber heroes. This is a rousing adventure with enough humor, action and sneaky plot twists to please newcomers as well as longtime series fans."
—Publishers Weekly on Dragon

"Steven Brust, in a genre that's mostly done by the numbers these days, maintains a hipster charm and an originality of mind."
—The Philadelphia Inquirer on Agyar



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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Tor Books; First Edition edition (September 24, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0765334224
  • ISBN-13: 978-0765334220
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.2 x 9.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (82 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #424,250 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

46 of 51 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on October 20, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I went into The Incrementalists expecting a story about people who have "meddled" in important events throughout human history to achieve more favorable outcomes. While the novel mentions that its characters do such things, the focus of the plot is actually on an internal struggle amongst several of the group's leaders. It was like thinking you're getting Harry Potter but instead reading a story about an intrigue in the Hogwarts board of governors, who occasionally mention that some of the students are having grand adventures battling evil.

Ren is the ostensible reader's point of entry into the world of the Incrementalists, but the rest of the characters seem perfectly OK with leaving her, and thus, the reader, confused about many aspects of it. Speaking of the other characters, they are supposed to be hundreds or thousands of years old but are remarkably shallow thumbnail sketches -- this one knows about food. This one is slightly more intense than the others. That one plays poker and is preoccupied with romantic entanglements.

If you're going to give this book a try, I think you at least deserve to know what you're really getting into. The characters do very cool things -- we're told. What we actually see them doing, however, is stumbling through a rather haphazardly conceived, pedestrian mystery that has nothing to do with subtle manipulation of historic events.
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful By TChris TOP 500 REVIEWER on September 24, 2013
Format: Hardcover
The "ancient secret society trying to control us all" plot has been done to death, but The Incrementalists takes an unusual (although only partially successful) approach. The novel departs from the norm in two ways: it doesn't feature the mindless chase scenes that too often characterize secret society novels, and the secret society (or most of it) isn't malevolent or power-hungry like the typical ancient secret societies that tries to control us. While the novel's set-up is therefore promising, The Incrementalists too often reads like a romance novel. It isn't a trashy romance novel, but neither is it a compelling love story.

Phil is a member of the Incrementalists, an ancient organization that is modern enough to use email ( The Incrementalists strive to make the world a little better. Their tool is meddlework -- meddling with someone's mind to change his or her actions. Not only has the organization been around forever, so have its members ... in a sense. Incrementalists live beyond their deaths when their memories are absorbed by new recruits.

Phil recruits Ren to join the Incrementalists without telling her that she'll be absorbing Celeste, his long-time lover. Ren, on the other hand, doesn't tell Phil that she has her own agenda for learning the business of meddlework. But Celeste has an agenda too, leading to a plot that is filled with conflicting agendas. Another plot wrinkle: Celeste's last memory before her suicide (which should be stored in the Garden where the Incrementalists keep their collective memories) has gone missing.

Meddling is a subtle process, more an act of manipulation than control, and that's another departure from novels with similar themes.
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25 of 29 people found the following review helpful By David Dyer-Bennet on September 24, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition
Secret histories work by adding something "big" to real history without disturbing it, often using the added thing to explain weird kinks in real history.

The Incrementalists are one of the biggest things I've seen added to history -- a secret society of 200 people, going back to the dawn of humanity, with memories going back that far but some turnover of actual people, that works for the betterment of the world.

But these days, they work only by making small changes, to make things a little better (there are hints of major disasters when big changes didn't work out in the distant past).

The near-immortality is fascinating. When an Incrementalist dies, they leave behind a "spike" in the memory garden; which, when applied to a living person, gives that person all the memories of the dead Incrementalist. Also, it makes *both* people share the body for a while; eventually, one or the other drops back to a minor background presence.

Except, when Phil spikes Ren with Celeste's spike, things don't go as smoothly as they usually do. Memories are sometimes missing, but come back later. Scary, and confusing (and very stressful for Ren, who agreed to take the spike so fast that she didn't get as much explanation as people are usually given).

They learn of some new possibilities of their powers, undiscovered for tens of thousands of years. They resolve character conflicts, and set up new ones. It's a great introduction to this complex world and its characters, with a nicely self-contained plot, and great big tracts of space for future stories.

I've been a fan of Steven's books since the beginning; this is my first exposure to Skyler's writing. I'm not anywhere near tired of Vlad or Dragaera -- but it's fun to see a fresh new world being laid out for us, too.

Read it!
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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Arref Mak on September 26, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Well I enjoyed this. It was fun, fast, and intriguing. Glad to see such a collaboration.

I have read Brust many times before, and found this version of him a faster story with wonderful hints of deeper things stirred.
I have not read White before, but will be looking around to see what else she has written.

Things to like:
* dense jargon about poker and gambling. A learning experience. Totally opaque to me, which can push you out of a story, but it also stirs the curiosity and does get some exposition further into the story. No different than science concepts I'm not qualified to understand.
* shifting story perspective between the man and the woman who are zig zagging the story to resolution. I liked this a lot.
* strong secondary characters, all of them smart and interesting.
* good visuals for describing the territory of virtual landscapes.
* update to story concepts that have been tried before, a band of immortals hidden in plain sight.
* very nice 'magic' system that is magical science without creating "power X" unseen
* romance and passion based on exploration of identity
* broken trust based on human values crossed with immortal agenda
* immortals who are JUST LIKE US

highly recommended
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