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Unnatural History: Pax Britannia Series Mass Market Paperback – April 17, 2007
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Top Customer Reviews
Quicksilver is a great character. The “dandy adventurer” is something of a cross between a Victorian James Bond and the Tenth Doctor (David Tennant for those who wonder). He always has a ready quip and never loses his cool. The chases and “adventure” part of the story is fantastic (if a bit unbelievable) but then that’s what you would expect here. There is a little something of everything: mystery, chase, science fiction, steampunk, some old-fashioned horror and a slight touch of romance (but no sex). The world building is also interesting and features a 160-year old Queen Victoria and dinosaurs that never went extinct.
My feeling with this author’s writing style (or this novel) was that it suffered overall from a little too much “telling” after the “showing.” Sometimes scenes or character thoughts almost repeated over again after the nicely written showing. I have two examples of this. One was Ulysses waiting at the zoo for the girl to arrive. We “see” him doing this, but then after the girl arrives the passage again explains that he was waiting at the zoo and why. Who cares? You’ve already shown us he was waiting at the zoo! Another example is the lengthy but important scene run through the sewers of London. Creepy and gross, but I think every possible word in the thesaurus was used to describe the term “disgusting” (fetid, nasty, putrid, sickening, foul, etc.) until I began eye rolling. And did we really need to hear about how sick this ‘run’ made Ulysses afterward? Essentially, this novel really needed a good editor!Read more ›
And it delivered in terms of writing - for me Green is more fluid in style than Mann - and the overall story which cranked along quickly, but not in terms of Steampunk technology, where Mann delved more deeply and thoughtfully.
Overall however, "Unatural History" was a good diversion on a long flight from Johannesburg, with generally pleasant stereotypical characters, more than enough moustache twirling villians, crazy car chases and certainly non-stop action that took us from the sewers of London to a zeppelin flying overhead.
Of course, having only given "Unatural History" 3-stars, clearly a few things grated.
One in particular was hero Ulysses Quicksilver's "sixth sense" for danger. Having that tingle once or twice would be OK, but it was like a clarion call every chapter, chiming just in time for Quicksliver to duck, dodge or defend himself.
The other is logical but really pulled me up in the Steampunk theme - Queen Victoria is celebrating her 160 year reign, so quite naturally the book is set in 1997, which I found distracting because I instantly thought "**that's** not a Steampunk era". Of course, there is no reason the 1990's can't be Steampunk and it certainly makes sense in the timeline of the novel.
Then there were the dinosaurs. Really? I had to put that to one side because it just seemed so superfluous.
Finally, Green mixes Steampunk and current technology but does not really think it through.Read more ›
It hits all the notes of a pulp action story with an obnoxious naivete, as if, of course things happen this way, because it's a story, duh, rather than following the conventions of the genre out of respect and the author's desire to guide the story in that direction. In short, I found several events jarring to the continuity of the story, unsupported by previous behaviors, and only present to check that particular box in the list of things a pulp story should have.
I'm relatively sure that the author intended this effect, as it closely mimics older works in the area, but he doesn't add much if anything to the formula beyond a more modern science to depart from.
Our main character, Ulysses Quicksilver, has returned to London after having been presumed lost and dead for over a year. Almost immediately he is tasked by the British government to solve a murder.
The night watchman of the Natural History Museum has been killed. The offices of a prominent scientist have been ransacked. And the scientist's difference engine, which contains vital research has gone missing.
Ulysses soon discovers a plot which puts the Queen and the Empire itself at risk. Will Quicksilver find a way to defeat the criminals and save the Empire?
I enjoyed this novel. The author's unique vision of a twentieth century steam punk England piqued my interest and made this novel great fun to read.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
An action-filled, swashbuckling ride through an alternate history where Queen Victoria (parts of her at least) still rules and some distinctly sinister opponents wreak havoc. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Mandy Walkden-Brown (QLD, AUS)
Excellent writing. fast paced adventure. Quicksilver seems kind of vapid but he has an excellent supporting cast. The hero is only as good as his adversaries.Published 3 months ago by L.D.
So close, but so far.
A rip snorting adventure through yet another variation of a Steampunk Britain, Unnatural History fires on most cylinders. Read more
This was kind of fun. Indiana jones meets steam,punk at the end of the 20th century. The first of the series and if I can get the others for the same price " free" I'll... Read morePublished 13 months ago by James C. Lyman
This book is as predictable as tomorrows sunrise. There is just no imagination, no suspense, no action. I could get the same entertainment by reading the obituary. Read morePublished 14 months ago by Visaq
The bones of a good story are here. But the writing is overwrought and predictable. There are random asides placed directly before the events they inform. Read morePublished 21 months ago by Joel Wallace
Doc Savage goes to London. If you enjoyed 30s pulp fiction like Clark Savage's adventures you will love this bookPublished 22 months ago by Dave Hornung