Phoenix Rising by Pip Ballantine and Tee Morris
I normally read pure Fantasy novels: Lord of the Rings, The Chronicles of Prydain, the collections of Dungeons and Dragons novels, etc….. Every now and then I’ll throw in a Science Fiction novel, or a classic horror novel. That being said, until recently, I had not tried the “Steampunk” genre, and I thought that it would be a nice change of pace. Thus I picked up Phoenix Rising: A Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences Novel by co-authors Pip Ballantine and Tee Morris. I have enjoyed various movies of the genre, but this was my first novel. Well, I guess that’s not exactly true, growing up I loved the John Carter of Mars series by Edgar Rice Burroughs. I also enjoyed the Flash Gordon series by Alex Raymond. Though I never considered these as Steampunk, until a fellow at a book convention pointed out that they have flying machines, ray guns, etc…. at a time where that was unheard of. So, by definition they do fit. Thus I guess, to be more accurate, I have to say that Phoenix Rising was my first taste of modern Steampunk.
The best description I can give this book is: James Bond meets Dr. Watson. Though that description is not wholly accurate as, in this case, James Bond is a woman. A very courageous-daring-self-assured woman, who wears a bullet proof corset, my favorite touch by the way. After introducing my daughter to the novel, she is determined to make her own bullet proof corset. Our Heroine, Eliza D. Braun, is an agent for the Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences. She is adept and getting into and out of the most dangerous situations. So much so that the Ministry feels they need to rein her in a bit. Thus she is reassigned to partner, Wellington Books. A very logical and sober English gentleman, who just happens to be the Ministries records keeper, in essence the Librarian. Mr. Books introduces Miss Braun to the steam powered cataloging system he has created for the Ministries library. Where with the punch of a few keys various histories are brought to the inquirer through a series of baskets and cabling. A most boring assignment for our illustrious heroine. Or so she thought…….
As the story unfolds, our heroes will venture out of the library and into some very harrowing experiences. While at the same time, attempting to keep the illusion that they never left the library in the first place. If caught, there will be serious reprimands, possible suspensions, and even possibly sacked from the Ministry itself. If successful they may just save all of England.
If you like stories of Victorian England, a little espionage and mystery, throw in steam powered computers and floating restaurants, then you’ll love this book. I found this taste of Steampunk to be quite delicious and made me hunger for more. I have since started seeking out others of the Steampunk genre. If you haven’t experienced this particular section of the bookstore, yet, I highly recommend it, and this particular book, and subsequent series, is an excellent place to start.
Writer’s Note!! As you will find, I purposefully keep my reviews short and make the utmost attempt to avoid spoilers in them. After reading my reviews I want you interested in reading the novel, without knowing too many of the treasures hidden in the book. If you are dissatisfied with this, leave a comment, and after enough comments appear asking for more content, then I will be happy to extend my reviews. Thank you for reading.