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Dawn of Steam: First Light Kindle Edition
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|Length: 303 pages||Word Wise: Enabled||Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled|
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Top Customer Reviews
Firstly I commend them for courageously taking on the task of transporting us utterly into a beloved era of literature and helping us redefine what could have been possible. This tale takes place early in 1815 - so we think of Jane Austen. Though we do find ourselves immersed in the language, social protocols, and fashion of the time, we have to allow science fiction to find it's footing.
The tale is told through two noteworthy characters: Dr. Cordelia Bentham-Watts, the first woman doctor in Britain. She writes to support a remarkable journey taken by her fiancé, Gregory Conan Watts, via unpublished material from his journals and letters to her. In turn, Gregory Conan Watts entries describe an extensive tour, under ever changing alliances and circumstances, of the four corners of the world via the Dame Fortuna (a dirigible which has survived the Napoleonic wars).
This novel in many ways defies most current novelists work. It dares to be lengthy in description, to linger in detailed passages, to note mundane objects. However, all of this works to transport us from the present to the past. Every time I picked the book up, I felt myself traveling around the globe in long ago shoes.
This is a meaty, non-formulaic, book that requires the reader to commit to it. Well worth the time investment.
Apparently, they can. The main character paints with his words while practicing the art of letter writing, and I adored every page. The story is remarkably vivid, and makes me miss the days before email and texting. Gregory Watts is a wonderful narrator. The shifts in tone depending upon his intended audience are subtle and spot-on. His wit and panache are delightful. Cordelia's notes made for a superb counterpoint, as well as providing setting details without being pedantic.
The setting is a pre-Steampunk era of alternate history, where England won the Revolutionary War, and is still ascending through the 19th century. Steam is on its way to being a major force. Victorian mores rule the day. All of this sets the stage brilliantly for a true Steampunk future, which I hope the author intends to pursue after finishing the trilogy this book begins.
I heartily recommend this novel to anyone willing to be sucked into the mind of a proper English gentleman who is scandalized by women wearing pants.
I loved the idea of doing a non-narrative, non-first-person, non-omniscient novel. It gave the story a very different feel, almost like reading history, or a real research paper.
The down side was that the main character, Mr. Watts, was exceptionally dry. The first 150 pages are about how everyone dressed, how well-mannered or ill-mannered they were, how everyone fit in socially, and what was proper as well as what was not. I understand that there is quite a following for this as Downton Abby is like this and is hugely popular right now. But it's just not my taste in books.
Once you get through the very long and boring set-up the story is actually quite good. Mr. Cook stays consistent with his characters. I know that a lot of people don't see the value in consistency, but having read a lot of Indie works lately, I can say that this is a rare gift. His characters, though a bit dry, are like real people. They don't suddenly change. Some have hidden secrets (the story wouldn't be fun if they didn't) but they are true to who they are.
Mr. Cook's writing is true to the era. The tone is correct, and the history (except the parts which are intentionally changed for the sake of the story) is accurate.
The story is a good one. At first I thought it was a copycat of "Around the World in 80 Days", but it is oh so different. The premise is that of a bet, but instead of "how fast can you get around the world," it's "did a famous explorer really do all he claims he did." And the end leaves the series open to several sequels.
If you like Steampunk, and you like the intricacies propriety in 1800's British culture, you'll love the book.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
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