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Phoenix Rising: A Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences Novel (Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences Series) Mass Market Paperback – April 26, 2011

4.2 out of 5 stars 199 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

Steampunk is a fascinating genre, and Ballantine and Morris have captured it perfectly. I think this series could serve as a great introduction to the genre, in fact, since you really don't have to have much of an understanding of steampunk to enjoy the book. There also seems to be an element or two of the pulp genre, though much of that is actually turned on it's head.-Pew Reviews

If James Bond wore a corset and drank Earl Grey it might be something like the adventures in Phoenix Rising...The two agents make light-hearted banter whilst chasing down evil villains and mad scientists and getting in and out of scrapes in immaculate period style. It's anachronistic and absurd, but Phoenix Rising has a sweet ending and getting to it is gleeful fun.
-Warp Core Sci Fi

This was a great start to a great series.  Steampunk-when written right-can be a grand adventure into the past that tells a whole new story of the ingenuity of the human mind.  The banter between Eliza and Wellington, or "Welly" as she calls him, had me chuckling in more than one spot. --RomFan Reviews

I enjoyed this book more than I think I can express in a single review. The moment I finished it I wanted the next one in the series. The steampunk world is incredible, all the way from awesome weaponry to colorful clothing. Eliza's sassy attitude kept me upbeat throughout the entire book, even when I was scared for the characters' lives.-All About Romance

This book combines aspects of the "The Odd Couple", the first three Indiana Jones movies, any good detective novel and the TV show, Cold Case...People love Steampunk and I think in Ballantine and Morris we have authors that can carry the torch. If you haven't purchased this book or downloaded it you are missing out.-Geek Life

From the Back Cover

Evil is most assuredly afoot—and Britain’s fate rests in the hands of an alluring renegade . . . and a librarian.

These are dark days indeed in Victoria’s England. Londoners are vanishing, then reappearing, washing up as corpses on the banks of the Thames, drained of blood and bone. Yet the Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences—the Crown’s clandestine organization whose bailiwick is the strange and unsettling—will not allow its agents to investigate. Fearless and exceedingly lovely Eliza D. Braun, however, with her bulletproof corset and a disturbing fondness for dynamite, refuses to let the matter rest . . . and she’s prepared to drag her timorous new partner, Wellington Books, along with her into the perilous fray.

For a malevolent brotherhood is operating in the deepening London shadows, intent upon the enslavement of all Britons. And Books and Braun—he with his encyclopedic brain and she with her remarkable devices—must get to the twisted roots of a most nefarious plot . . . or see England fall to the Phoenix!

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Product Details

  • Series: Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences Series (Book 1)
  • Mass Market Paperback: 402 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Voyager; First Paperback Printing edition (April 26, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0062049763
  • ISBN-13: 978-0062049766
  • Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 1 x 6.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (199 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #166,605 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Mass Market Paperback
I can't say this book turned my head as much as I wanted it to. There are some incredible ideas, concepts, scenes, and action in here, and the whole thing feels like a rough gold nugget just waiting to be polished to a brilliant shine. And in some places it did, so brilliantly, in fact, that it made me forgive many of the issues of the novel, and even turned me on to giving any second attempt a try. But the places where it was left rough and unpolished--sometimes criminally so by the editors, and not through any fault of the author's--detracted enough to make me want to knock my head on a wall. REPEATEDLY.

The Good:

The entire concept of the super secret organization the main characters work for is very cool, as is the very charming and smaller Ministry of Seven. In fact, the entire novel is littered with Moments of Cool, ranging from steampunk inventions to orgies to action sequences that will take your breath away. The characters were eminently likeable, and if the joke with the names (Books and Braun) was not subtle, I can honestly say I never stopped being amused by it. Books is actually a very complex character, and I sometimes had the impression the writers liked him more than the impulsive and much easier to understand Braun.

The Bad:

The editing will make you want to punch a publishing house in the face. The shoddy editing was NOT the fault of the writers, nor should it reflect badly on their writing skills. Someone was either asleep at the wheel, or just didn't care enough to do their danged job.

What can be placed on the writers is some inconsistent pacing, or scenes so painful they stalled out my reading.
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Format: Kindle Edition
I've always had a soft spot for the idea of Steam Punk. It's an appealing genre for so many reasons, but mostly, I guess, because it's just plain fun. I like to put on the British accent and affect the mannerisms as I read and it just really makes me happy. Typically set in the Victorian era, it invents an alternate history for the world where so many things are possible.

Now, I said I like the idea of it. I have to confess to not having read a whole lot of this genre, so I don't have much to compare `Phoenix Rising' with. What I can say is that it had everything I could have hoped for: guns, machines, action, secrecy, sinister plots, good old fashioned British sensibilities.

It also had something I didn't really expect, in the form of the main characters: Eliza Braun, a feisty colonial from New Zealand--obviously this is going to go down well with me, a New Zealander through and through. While the bulk of the novel is set in Britain, it was pleasantly surprising to have someone from outside that country play such an important role.

Books, the unassuming Archivist for the Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences, is also an intriguing character. He is so much more than he first seems. I adore him.

Both are refreshing and original. I thought they were really well developed and brought a lot of depth to this novel. Both appeared to be a certain way to begin with, and over the course of the story we're shown more of their layers and complexities, which is something that really worked for me.

And the plot? Wow. Just, wow. Right from the very start it's action packed--these two sure know how to get themselves caught up in trouble, and get themselves out of it (in fairly good shape anyway!).
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
Phoenix Rising is the first in a series of steampunk novels featuring The Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences. I'm not a big follower of the steampunk "movement," nor do I go out of my way to read this science fiction subgenre, but this novel sounded even quirkier than most steampunk so I decided to give it a try. It turned out to be moderately entertaining but less interesting than I thought it might be.

The novel starts with field agent Eliza Braun rescuing the Ministry's archivist, Wellington Books, from a cell in Antarctica, where he was being held by the House of Usher. Braun disobeyed orders by rescuing him; she was supposed to execute him to assure that his knowledge didn't fall into evil hands. To punish her transgression, the Ministry's director, Basil Sound, reassigns her to the archives (an assignment that does not permit her to indulge her passion for dynamite), where she must serve under Books' tutelage. When Books tasks Braun with filing unsolved cases, Braun decides it would be more fun to solve them. In particular, she wants to take on a case that her former partner had been investigating before his admission to an asylum. She enlists Books' help and, working on their own (without the Ministry's knowledge or support), they attempt to infiltrate The Phoenix Society, a secret organization whose members conspire to restore the faded glory of the British Empire. Their self-assigned mission provides an excuse for the novel's various fights and chases, as well as constant bickering (and thinly-concealed desire) between Braun and Books.

One of the charms of steampunk is inventive gadgetry; surprisingly little of that turns up in this novel, and the mechanical devices that finally appear are unoriginal.
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