By Jonathan Green
Published in 2011 by Abaddon Books
Available in paperback from Amazon and £6.99
In two scant months the nation, and all her colonies, will celebrate 160 years of Queen Victoria’s glorious reign. But all is not well at the heart of the empire of Magna Britannia. A chain of events is about to be set in motion that, if not stopped, could lead to a world-shattering conclusion.
It begins with a break-in at the Natural History Museum. A night watchman is murdered. An eminent Professor of Evolutionary Biology goes missing. Then a catastrophic Overground rail-crash unleashes the dinosaurs of London Zoo. But how are all these events connected? Is it really the work of crazed revolutionaries, seeking the violent evolution of Magna Britannia? Or are there yet more sinister forces at work?
Enter Ulysses Quicksilver dandy, rogue and agent of the throne back from the dead. Aided by his ever faithful manservant Nimrod, it is up to this dashing soldier of fortune to solve the mystery and uncover the truth before London degenerates into primitive madness and a villainous mastermind brings about the unthinkable. The downfall of the British Empire!
This is the first book in the Pax Britannia series; an alternative history set in the empire of Magna Britannia, where steam is still king and mankind has spread to the inner planets of the Solar system. I’ve read some Steampunk, but it’s never been a genre that has grabbed me and carried me along before. I’ve heard some good things about the work being put out by Abaddon Books and so picked up the inaugural copy for a look-see.
This is a very pulp inspired story, the reader is thrown in head first into the story; with very little set up or explanation as to the where, what and who, back story is filled in as you go along. The main character – Ulysses Quicksilver – jumps straight out of the pages of every Boys Own adventure written. He is a dashing gentleman who isn’t fazed by anything – including riding a Megasuarus Rex through Piccadilly Circus – and see’s near on indestructible.
The language is a little twee in places, even though the book is set in this realities version of 1997; everyone still talks like its 1887. The women are all – bar one exception – delicate and swoon for a pass time, the men all astonished that someone of a lower class should talk to them. The Police are very Keystone – robotic Keystone at that – and the Chief Inspector is straight out of the Miss Marple academy.
In any normal setting, you put this set of circumstances together you would feel let down; but not here. Jonathan Green has merged all these ingredients together and cooked them into a deliciously devilish pie with humor, intrigue, adventure and action by the bucket load. All in all there are nine books set in the same universe – three so far including Quicksilver as the main character – with a tenth due to be released this year. It is well worth a look, if you like uncomplicated adventure, this is a must read.