- Series: Merchant Princes (Book 3)
- Mass Market Paperback: 320 pages
- Publisher: Tor Fantasy (August 28, 2007)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0765348225
- ISBN-13: 978-0765348227
- Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 0.9 x 6.9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces
- Average Customer Review: 38 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,786,668 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Clan Corporate: Book Three of The Merchant Princes Mass Market Paperback – August 28, 2007
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“The Clan Corporate offers more proof, if any were needed, why Charles Stross has become universally acknowledged as one of science fiction's major new talents.” ―Mike Resnick
“Stross and his feisty heroine are currently about the best practitioner and heroine the old motif boasts, and many are and will be the readers hoping for more than the three volumes they've given us so far.” ―Booklist
“Stross is a cunning writer.” ―Locus on The Clan Corporate
“Charles Stross's Family Trade series continues strong with The Clan Corporate.” ―Analog
“Stross continues to mix high and low tech in amusing and surprising ways. . . .[he] weaves a tale worthy of Robert Ludlum or Dan Brown.” ―Publishers Weekly on The Hidden Family
“It's simply a great adventure, full of danger, of plots within plots, of forbidden love and political murder.” ―Orson Scott Card on The Family Trade
About the Author
Charles Stross is the author of the bestselling Merchant Princes series, the Laundry series, and several stand-alone novels including Glasshouse, Accelerando, and Saturn's Children. Born in Leeds, England, in 1964, Stross studied in London and Bradford, earning degrees in pharmacy and computer science. Over the next decade and a half he worked as a pharmacist, a technical writer, a software engineer, and eventually as a prolific journalist covering the IT industry. His short fiction began attracting wide attention in the late 1990s; his first novel, Singularity Sky, appeared in 2003. He has subsequently won the Hugo Award twice. He lives with his wife in Edinburgh, Scotland, in a flat that is slightly older than the state of Texas.
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This volume was every bit as good as the previous two, and the next. It moves the story forward, ratchets up the stakes, and unveils new mysteries while resolving some old ones.
As you'd expect with what is essentially half a novel, not very much is wrapped up neatly by the end of this book. But a delicious amount of stuff happens, and my only complaint is that I couldn't put the darn thing down.
In the first two novels, despite feeling very much a fish out of water in the strange world of Gruinmarkt, Miriam had some measure of control over her life. She was (and in this book, still is) resourceful, talented, bold, takes initiative, and is very accomplished at thinking on her feet.
Unfortunately, that is not always enough in life. Things go from bad to worse for Miriam as after an unfortunate mistake she is locked up. Threatened with death for doing something regarded by the Clan as treason, she finds her options reduced from many to only one; world walkers are very valuable and rare and the Clan would absolutely love to have ties to the royal family - she is to marry one of the two princes and have at least several children, not only insuring the Clan continues to have a supply of world walkers but buying the Clan tremendous political connections and prestige.
Cloistered in a castle, a virtual prisoner, forced by the Clan to learn their world's language, royal etiquette, and overall stop being Miriam (and American) and start being Helge, our protagonist finds herself isolated from actions that while not initiated by Miriam will very much affect her. First of all, the King's other son is not at all happy with Miriam's impeding marriage with his brother and takes action to prevent this. Second, the United States, working with the defector Matthias, has finally gotten a toe-hold in what they call "fairyland" (the Gruinmarkt). At first having come to appreciate the Clan as highly organized, well-informed, and very well armed cross-dimensional drug smugglers, they soon come to appreciate them as a far, far worse threat when Matthias gives them strong reason to believe that the Clan has planted nuclear weapons on our world. Enter Mike Fleming, a federal agent (and former boyfriend of Miriam's), a man who becomes part of a federal program design to study and if possible bring down the Clan.
Though New Britain doesn't figure as much into the storyline as it did in the second volume in the series, important developments nonetheless occur there as well.
Part of the book had a different tone than the rest of the series, the part that dealt with Miriam being locked up in the castle. For a time I had a hard time imagining how she would get out of that situation and Stross did a good job of generating sympathy for the character. The last part of the book stands in vivid contrast and was quite exciting, boding well for this excellent series. Overall I have found the series to be tremendously entertaining.
I recommend you wait for book 4 and then buy 3 and 4 together. That way you might have something to read.
First off, it is almost as if another writer has taken over the series. This new writer has decided that Miriam was far to interesting, too active and too successful in her first two books, so now she will undergo a radical personality change and sit around and learn etiquette (slowly) on a backwards world while allowing others to run her businesses for her.
Regardless of whether it can be explained logically (the author attempts to do this somewhat) it is just plain boring and not why I am reading the series. I am reading the series because I enjoy reading about a winner, who is rebellious and sees ways to improve the system and goes out and ACTS ON those ideas and succeeds with those ideas and conquers her foes and doubters and ignores their objections and demands that she fit into the system.
But Miriam becomes complacent and boring. That is the worst thing that an author can do - make the main character boring.
Furthermore, much of this book centers on new characters back in the boring USA. The excitement of this series is to be found in the two alternate universes and their new and interesting scenarios. I already KNOW what the USA is like and what boring DEA agents and policemen are like. On the other hand, New Britan is interesting, and dark and watching Miriam walk all over and all around the government there is interesting and fun.
Reading about her submission to the clan and her inaction is boring.
So I gave this two stars - basically for the same reason that the primary reviewer stated - because you have to read it to get to the next book in the series. I hope it returns to the original ideas quickly.