Fiction Reviews

Pax Brittania: Anno Frankenstein

(2011) Jonathan Green, Abaddon, £7.99, pbk, 320pp, ISBN 978-1-907-51944-4


Buckle up there, and hold on tight because here we go again, joining Ulysses Quicksilver on another action-packed adventure. But, wait a minute, is that really Ulysses? As a matter of fact it is not, it is his father Hercules Quicksilver, agent of Magna Britannia, but we can be forgiven for mistaking the two because the son is clearly a chip off the old block. Why is Quicksilver Senior, in the novel? Well, we are back in time during the days of the second world war joining Hercules on a mission to stop the Nazis producing their undead soldiers with a little help from something inside the Jekyll cylinder. More help is on the way in the shape of his own son, Ulysses, who has followed mad, bad Daniel Dashwood through the time vortex to try and prevent Dashwood giving knowledge from the future to the Nazis which would ensure their victory and result in the future that Ulysses knows and belongs to never existing, but there is an added complication with Ulysses encountering a version of his father that he did not really know, but he knows, what his father will become. Oh, what to do? It is one of those Marty McFly time dilemma situations.

But enough of that schmaltzy family 'stuff'. Given that this is the seventh of Green’s Quicksilver series (see also Blood Royal) all the expected ingredients are in place: action, adventure, thrills, spills, set-pieces, cliff - hangers and a cast of weird and wonderful characters, ranging from weak scientist Dr. Jekyll to undead super soldiers, Russian vampires, Prisoner Zero, oh, and a certain creation made from parts of the bodies of dead people by you-know-who. No, not Voldemort, read the title of the book. Yes, he is there, and also some brand-new additions of the good Baron’s work, the latest models off the production line at Castle Frankenstein. Vorsprung Re-animated Technik, or whatever it could be called. It is a stirring World War Two romp, packed with stiff upper lippery and derring-do, I even expected Richard Todd to turn up-in black and white!

No spoilers here, but Green continues to have some in-jokes and references to other science fiction and fantasy series, some of which are subtle, some of which are pretty outrageous – one in particular springs to mind. Some of these come off, raise a laugh, or a smile. Those that do not elicit a groan or a wince. There is the evitable, hook, or cliff-hanger to make you read on, not that we need any encouragement, but I think it is going to be a while before we are back in familiar territory – and times – with Ulysses, but Green obviously thinks there is a rich seam to mine into with the current storyline, and since he is the man in charge who are we to argue with him?

Told over three acts, a prologue and an epilogue and forty three bite-size (for me anyway) chapters. All I can say is “Wham, bam, thank you, ma’am,” to quote a line from a David Bowie song. “Suffragette City”, actually, and thank you Mr. Green for another head-banging, foot-tapping instalment of the adventures on Ulysses Quicksilver. It’s like a rollercoaster ride with added jeopardy. You can glance at those white knuckles, just don’t look down.

Ian Hunter

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