It is the year 2010, Her Divine Majesty, Queen Elizabeth XXX sits upon the throne.
Great Britain’s vast Empire is run by ALCHEMY and SUPERSTITION. Now Sir Rupert Triumff, dashing swordsman, has uncovered a vile plot to dethrone her glorious majesty.
For the honour of the nation: to arms!
It’s 2010 and the age of Gloriana never ended. Now Elizabeth XXX sits on the throne, ruling a vast Anglo-Spanish empire that relies on magick to maintain its control except that the magick is starting to fail and Elizabeth’s court is succumbing to intrigue and political manoeuvring. Fortunately Sir Rupert Triumff, explorer, adventurer and lover, has news of a new continent and brought a naked native, Uptil, as proof. The only problem is that Triumff doesn’t want the queen to know about this new land, Beach, with its strange technology, lack of magic and incredible beaches. He wants to keep it secret. And he couldn’t have picked a worse time, for treason stalks Gloriana’s court and the traitors won’t hesitate to frame Triumff and claim his discovery for their own.
Dan Abnett has written an entertaining alternate history romp that is reminiscent of Terry Pratchett’s work sometimes too reminiscent – particularly with the character of Mother Grundy who brings to mind Pratchett’s Granny Weatherwax. There’s a great deal of humour with Abnett particularly fond of puns although some go on too long, e.g. a Swiss army rapier that seldom works as intended.
The plot is fast-moving and Triumff himself is an engaging if at times inconsistent hero. Notably, Abnett can’t seem to decide if he’s a lucky fop, or a cunning fox and at times he wildly veers between the two. Triumff’s love interest is the practical actress, Doll and he’s ably supported by Uptil, a supposed savage who is more civilised than the English he lives amongst and Agnew, his long-suffering servant.
The cast is perhaps a little too large for a book of this type and it’s inevitable that some characters – notably a mysterious human-sized cat, don’t get sufficient page time to develop. More problematically, the plot also suffers, with the final quarter containing some surprising revelations that would have been better served if seeded earlier in the text. Parts of the plot are also too predictable, which robs them of suspense.
For a professionally published book, the copyediting leaves much to be desired – with typographical errors noticeable in the text and one howler where the word “volt” is used instead of “vault” in a critical scene. Despite this, it’s an entertaining read and signs that the sequel will be equally enjoyable.
This novel is perhaps a little too short to give it full justice and at times, it’s uncomfortably close to Terry Pratchett’s work to be original. However, it’s written with humour and pace and there’s enough sheer likeability to keep the reader engaged. Worth checking out.
Cross-posted to books and bookworming.