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Unnatural History: Pax Britannia Series Mass Market Paperback – April 17, 2007

3.7 out of 5 stars 37 customer reviews
Book 1 of 8 in the Pax Britannia Series

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Jonathan Green is well known for his contribution to the Fighting Fantasy range of adventure gamebooks as well as his novels in Games Workshop's world of Warhammer and Warhammer 40,000. He is the creator of the world of Pax Britannia. www.paxbritannia.com
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Product Details

  • Series: Pax Britannia (Book 1)
  • Mass Market Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Abaddon Books; 1st paperback edition edition (April 25, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1905437102
  • ISBN-13: 978-1905437108
  • Product Dimensions: 5 x 0.8 x 6.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (37 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,099,019 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
While I did enjoy the adventurers of Ulysses Quicksilver, I have a few issues that kept me from giving Pax Britannia Vol. 1: Unnatural History a higher rating.

The good:
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.

The not-so-good:
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!
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
Having recently read George Mann's Steampunk adventure, "The Affinity Bridge", I was expecting more of the same in Johnathon Green's "Unatural History".

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.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This is over the top steampunk pulp. Emphasis on over the top and pulp. Florid writing, and the same kind of 'ignore the concept of a top to be over' issues that plagued the fourth Indiana Jones movie.

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.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
In this novel the author has created a unique version of the steam punk genre. The time is 1997 AD. The place is London, England. Queen Victoria has been on the throne for 160 years. The British Empire controls most of Earth as well as colonies on the Moon and on Mars.

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.
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