Fiction Reviews

Blood Royal

(2010) Jonathan Green, Abaddon Books, £7.99, pbk, 347pp, ISBN 978-1-906735-30-2

Here we go, hang on to whatever you can because here comes the latest instalment of the Pax Britannia series set in the Steampunk London of Magna Britannia where there are even more dastardly deeds afoot than normal, and going on past encounters thatís perhaps more than one dashing hero can handle.

Blood Royal follows on neatly and steps up a gear from the events described in the previous book Evolution Expects where parts of London are off limits because they are inhabited by hybrids that are part-insect and part-human. You really donít want to go there, but our hero Ulysses Quicksilver and his sidekick Nimrod have no choice if they are going to rescue the kidnapped daughter of a friend from a bunch of, er, giant locusts thingeys that lurk within St. Paulís Cathedral. And of course, even this small incident embroils Quicksilver in something much larger that threatens to bring down the Empire.

Green has to be admired for his plotting dexterity and his ability to keep the sub-plots juggling, looping around each other in mid-air and not crashing to the ground or into each other or going down a dead end or just being unsatisfying resolved. There are mysteries to be solved, like what was Dr. Gallowglass doing before he died? And who is this killer stalking Whitechapel, of all places? Weíve got vampires and werewolves, and resurrected serial killers andÖ..Well, that would be spoiling things, but I defy you to guess what happens next, or who, or what, is going to turn up as Green skates across the backdrop of the Empire and the city juggling the plot as he goes, only pausing for breath and maybe a welcoming piece of info-dumping that does not detract from the action too much. Weíre in safe hands with Quicksilver, who is good with his fists and his sword, and his one-liners. I keep expecting him to glance off page at the reader to unleash a twinkling smile, or a wink, and as a bonus we even find a bit about his secret past for good measure.

It is fast, itís furious, itís full of action and adventure with good guys you can root for, and bad guys you can boo and hiss at, and guys a little bit in between so who knows which way they are going to turn, but I look forward to finding out. Oh, and the toys, let us not forget that this book has got some great toys. So what if it is not particular deep, it is still rollicking good fun, and maybe the best of the series so far, from the great cover art by Mark Harrison, to the start of the first Act, and right through the forty six chapters (have I mentioned before that I like books with short chapters) to the end where thereís a real treat in store for us in the form of a special bonus 'long' short story called 'White Rabbit'. As the man says, "Ambassador, you spoil us." 5 out of 5.

Ian Hunter

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