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The Fractal Prince (Jean le Flambeur) Hardcover – November 27, 2012

4.2 out of 5 stars 100 customer reviews
Book 2 of 3 in the Jean le Flambeur Series

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

If, after beginning this sequel to The Quantum Thief (2011), you find yourself wondering what the heck is going on here, don’t panic: Jean de Flambeur, the novel’s centerpiece, is wondering the same thing. Sprung (in the first novel) from a virtual prison by Mieli, a powerful woman who offers Jean his freedom in exchange for a service, he must return to his thieving ways and steal something for the pellegrini, a sort of godlike entity. But, even now, Jean still doesn’t know exactly why he was busted out of prison, or what, precisely, he’s stolen. He does know that, until he can pay off his debt to Mieli, he won’t be able to recover his lost memories. To repay his debt, he must safecrack a Schrödinger box and release the god that might or might not be trapped inside. Fans of the author’s popular debut novel, which mixed hard science with wild fantasy, will probably be lining up for this follow-up, which resolves some of the questions posed in The Quantum Thief but, on the other hand, asks several more, for which there are, as yet, no answers. --David Pitt


“Spectacularly and convincingly inventive, assured and wholly spellbdinding: one of the most impressive debuts in years.” ―Kirkus Reviews, starred review on The Quantum Thief

“A stellar debut.” ―Publishers Weekly, starred review on The Quantum Thief

“Outstanding... A storytelling skill rarely found from even the most experienced authors.” ―Library Journal, starred review on The Quantum Thief

“The best first SF novel I've read in years. Hard to admit, but I think he's better at this stuff than I am.” ―Charles Stross on The Quantum Thief

“Rajaniemi has spectacularly delivered on the promise that this is likely to be the most important SF novel we'll see this year.” ―Locus on The Quantum Thief

“Absolutely incredible… Endlessly inventive and compulsively readable. It's one of the best books of the year.” ―RT Book Reviews, Top Pick on The Quantum Thief


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Product Details

  • Series: Jean le Flambeur (Book 2)
  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Tor Books (November 27, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0765329506
  • ISBN-13: 978-0765329509
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.2 x 9.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (100 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #798,098 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Brandon Downey on October 7, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
It with some trepidation I downloaded my copy of the Fractal Prince. The world of the Quantum Thief was brilliantly executed, and so slyly construed as to make a Lupin-style fable possible even in a post-human world that I wondered if Hannu could keep the magic going for another book.

Not only is the Fractal Prince a worthy sequel, I think it might actually top the Quantum Thief -- certainly, the implications of its world have continued to haunt my thoughts (or perhaps I should say, its memes live a life of their own in my mind) daily.

The set piece for this second book is a (dying) Earth, peopled with a post-crisis culture which is consciously evocative of the fables of the Arabian Nights. In his portrayal of a society which is, if not post-literate, at least post-fiction on the edge of a tech-as-magic desert, Hannu pays homage to Wolfe (and in turn Vance), Simmons, in an odd-but-effective dual evocation of mythology from our distant and near pasts.

Hannu's style is consistently minimalist. This has been criticized by those not familiar with some of the tropes of modern science fiction or modern physics, but I think there's enough here for the clever and Googling reader to answer any questions. And besides, the minimalist approach appears to be the right one for a world so far advanced that it is on the edge of comprehensibility. Bare description leads to fertile imagining -- read this book, and you may come to dream of ruined cities ruled by merchant-slavers astride a desert haunted with spirits and memes, or have a nightmare of a pharaonic dynasty with its Founder's boots on the face of (virtual) humanity.. forever. Read it, and see if "Here be Dragons" isn't just a bit more terrifying by the time you're done.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I loved The Quantum Thief, which was a challenging, but very rewarding read. One of the amazing parts of The Quantum Thief was that it ran on the knife-edge of sufficient exposition for a complex ecology involving beings that overlapped interplanetary and networked existences. Heady stuff for the reader to keep up with, but well-managed in The Quantum Thief with dazzling effect.

The Fractal Prince, however, fails in this regard. Although the setting is the same as The Quantum Thief, exposition falls short for even the ardent reader, and this shortcoming is compounded by separate story lines that do not clearly converge until late in the book. Heavily used terms are largely explained until past the halfway point of the book, and even then it is difficult to fully appreciate them. The beautifully artful balance of exposition and plot progression that marked The Quantum Thief is sadly lost in this sequel.

I confess that part of my problem may have been that I broke up my reading sessions more in the last half of The Fractal Prince, but this was largely attributable to my disappointment and difficulty with the first half. But, who knows, perhaps a few solid sessions with The Fractal Prince would have alleviated my difficulties, but I doubt it since it is clear Hannu Rajaniemi likes to push the envelope of the narrative. Still, I look forward to his next installment with the hope that he takes more care.
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Format: Hardcover
THE FRACTAL PRINCE is the follow-up to Hannu Rajaniemi's THE QUANTUM THIEF, and, like its predecessor, is a complex, fast-paced tale of gentleman thief Jean le Flambeur battling gods in a post-singularity world that only a mathematician or physicist will feel completely comfortable. But this time, Rajaniemi adds a layer of Arabian Nights and the power of stories to this hard-SF tale.

As you can probably guess from that first paragraph, THE FRACTAL PRINCE is not the easiest read. There is a reason all discussions of a post-singularity Earth tend to peter out into statements along the line of "It will be so unlike our current world," or "We cannot imagine that future world." Rajaniemi does an admirable job of trying to avoid such statements and describe a world of humanity with AI-enhanced brains, omnipresent nano-materials, and uploadable consciousnesses. It's a difficult read, and I found myself at times confused and having to go back and re-read portions of the book.

But despite these difficulties, at its heart, Rajaniemi has written a beautiful story about the power of stories and the extremes to which people will go for love, honor, and family. So THE FRACTAL PRINCE isn't so foreign after all. It's just not easy on the readers. That being said, it is also wonderfully written. It's downright poetic at times-a rare thing among hard-SF novels.

In this book, the second of a proposed trilogy (and do not pick up this book without having read THE QUANTUM THIEF), le Flambeur returns to a damaged Earth on assignment from a goddess. With him again is Mieli and her living ship Perhonen. His job? To break into the mind of a living god to steal codes that would allow him to manipulate reality on the quantum level. If he succeeds, he might earn his freedom.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
First up, it burns me that the Kindle version of this novel cost MORE than the hardcover version! Crazy stuff...

Equally crazy - but in a good way - is Rajaniemi's follow up to his outstanding "The Quantum Thief".

Now I won't pretend that I understood everything that was going on, or was able to visualise everything from Rajaniemi's fecund imagination, but this is a top notch 'wheels within wheels' sci-fi thriller that combines cutting edge technology concepts with the ages old Persian legend of Hezar-afsana, or the "Thousand Myths".

It is a sequel to "The Quantum Thief" and while some aspects are retold (fortunately, Rajaniemi has the story teller gift and manages to indirectly infuse critical elements without you feeling that you are rehashing a previous novel) you should read "The Quantum Thief" before you launch into "The Fractal Prince".

And if you have already read "The Quantum Thief" then you know what to expect - warring metaminds running on q dot substrates the size of planets; uploaded humans who jealously guard their immortality; made to order military spec bodies with relexes to shame a clowder of cats; and the thread that holds it all together, a very canny thief who is the very embodiment of the ghost in the machine.

If you haven't read "The Quantum Thief" and all this sounds like good stuff, rest assured that it is.

So I'm waxing lyrical, but still, there were some niggling aspects to "The Fratcal Prince".

I personally don't like novels that bounce between first person and third person perspective.
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