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Three Princes Hardcover – February 4, 2014

2.9 out of 5 stars 16 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

“Combining history, magic and adventure, the book balances emotional depth with buoyant storytelling.” ―Kirkus Reviews, starred review

About the Author

RAMONA LOUISE WHEELER is the author of the "Ray and Rokey" series appearing in Analog magazine and has written nonfiction on comparative mythology, and on the literature and beliefs of the ancient Egyptians.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Tor Books (February 4, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0765335972
  • ISBN-13: 978-0765335975
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.3 x 8.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 2.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,180,168 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Arthur Enyedy on March 8, 2014
Format: Hardcover
hree Princes is an alternate history novel; it is a world where the Mayan and Egyptian empires never collapsed, but instead remain thriving entities into what appears to be the equivalent of our 19th century. It is the story of two princes of the Egyptian Empire - Lord Scott Oken and Professor Prince Mikel Mabruke - who work as spies for the Pharoah Queen Sashetah Irene. In the beginning of the novel, the pair are concerned about a secret organization called the Red Hand, as well as the evil plotting of rogues Albert and Victoria; but a report has come in that the Inca empire is trying to build a rocket ship to send to the moon, so all these initial concerns are dropped and Princes Oken and Mabruke are sent to the new world.

What Wheeler does best is write lavish descriptions of opulent luxury. At every location, including in desert tents out in the Sahara desert, the princes encounter beautiful and rich scenes - tasty and elaborate feasts, wonderous architecture, priceless furniture, amazing clothes, heady scents, the finest wines, glittering jewels, etc. The people who live in these places are healthy, strong and beautiful, with restrained manners and tastefully knowing their places. A movie directory would need a giant budget to film all the ornate locations described here.

Another nice part of the novel is Wheeler's description of the flying Quetzals of the Inca empire. (Wouldn't the Incas call their air ships condors? Quetzals are only found in central America, which is the location of the Mayan empire.) I have loved flying airships ever since I read A Princess of Mars back in my high school days. Wheeler envisions huge craft levitated by the lighter-than-air gas Tlalocene in huge balloons of caoutchouc.
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Format: Kindle Edition
Ramona Wheeler came up with a great setting premise for her novel Three Princes: an alternate Earth where neither the Egyptian nor the Incan Empires ever failed. Now, from their center in Memphis, Egypt rules an enormous swath of land across Africa, Europe, and Asia, though not all are happy with said rule, especially a resistance group led by Otto von Bismarck. Meanwhile, across the Atlantic, the Incans rule most of that area, which they crisscross in their Quetzal airships, the secret of which they closely guard. When rumors arise of an Incan attempt to land a rocket on the moon, two royal agents of the Egyptian Empire, Lord Scott Oken and Professor/Captain Prince Mikel Mabruke are sent across the wide ocean to investigate.

Like I said, it’s a great setting premise, one refreshingly distant from the usual European-based background. Unfortunately, though Wheeler flashes some moments, the setting and premise are mostly missed opportunities, thanks to a host of issues.

Plotting is mostly weak, relying on coincidences and conveniences, perfectly timed arrivals and departures, and too many people knowing just what to do too often. The action is episodic in nature as Scott and Mik travel from place to place, but it all feels a bit disjointed and removed and I can’t say any of it is all that exciting or even interesting. Too much feels random or without sufficient explanation/motivation, while other plot points are dropped in or dropped out.

The characters are pretty pallid and all too simplistic, either all good or all bad. Mik, for instance, has this magical charisma that charms everyone immediately, while one of the villains is a raving maniac, literally. Not to mention nearly everyone Scott meets is beautiful and full of “presence.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Wow, where do I start?

There might be spoilers, so scroll along if you don't want to know.

Most of the other reviews are correct in that they spend little time explaining any of the history at all. I know this really isn't needed in alternative histories novels like this, but there is little to any mention of it. I was expecting at least something, but you didn't really get a lot. It also reminds me of Redwall because it seems like every meal they have in this novel is superb and written out in detail.

Although, it was still a fun little ride.
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Format: Kindle Edition
Whereas many pieces of alternate history fiction I've seen take place either at or around the turning point in history, or else far enough into the future that it becomes a combination of alternate history and science fiction, Ramona Wheeler's Three Princes was alternate history set long after the division of timelines, but still set in the past, making it notable in that regard alone. Wheeler plays with the timeline of civilization so that things changed at least 2000 years ago, and the book takes place in the late 1800s, making quite a gap to fill in with possibilities and tweaks that yielded an interesting world to explore.

Enter Scott Oken, royalty by blood, and Mikel Mabruke, called the Professor Prince, both of whom are well-trained intelligence operatives for the Egyptian empire. They are sent to investigate the Incan moon launch, as well as to uncover more information at the black orchid cult that is growing in strength and numbers. In Tawantinsuyu, the Incan Empire, we have Viracocha, who is the final of the titular three princes whom the story revolves around. Though really, the vast majority of the story surrounds Oken, a man who can seemingly do no wrong and who attracts women at every turn.

The first half of the story involves a lot of travelling, a fair bit of characters showing off their expansive skillsets and knowledge while dodging members of the black orchid cult as they travel by land and air from Memphis to Tawantinsuyu, across the Atlantic Ocean, in order to investigate the rumours of the Incan empire launching a ship to the moon. This plot gets all but forgotten in the second half of the book after they've arrived there, when they meet Viracocha and get tangled in the politics of his life.

As antagonists go, Pachacuti was rather weak.
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