Unnatural History: Pax Britannia #1 by Jonathan Green

This is a Steampunk novel. If you are confused by all the genre and sub-genre talk and have no idea what speculative fiction is don’t panic. It doesn’t really matter as knowing a genre can sometimes be a bad thing. I spent years avoiding Steampunk books because I read Jeter and did not enjoy his work. I’d heard that Jeter was one of the best Steampunk authors so I assumed I disliked the whole genre. When asked on Twitter the other day by @gavreads it actually sounded really silly that I avoided a whole sub-genre because of one book. It is silly and no different from judging people without getting to know them. This is no longer an issue thanks to the writing of Mr Green.

This is a fun book set in the heart of the British Empire. Only technology is still based on Victorian and Edwardian ideals and Queen Victoria is still alive (kinda) in 1996. Ulysses Quicksilver is on first appearances a dandy and a fop. To those that know him he is a gentleman adventurer. What most people don’t realise is that he is a crown agent risking life and limb in defence of the realm. A flair for dramatic entrances and making improbable escapes from peril obviously draws comparisons with James Bond, but the characters are very different.

The adventure starts with what appears to be a burglary at the Natural History museum. From there things get stranger as the plot thickens. The manservant Nimrod is a great straight man character that could easily be Alfred from Batman. The plot is fairly simple and gradually reveals itself in a timely manner. There is no shocking end, but there are a few surprises to keep you on your toes.

Overall this is a fun and interesting read that will make you smile think about how things could have been in modern London. I will be reading the next book at some point, but I don’t feel compelled to buy it today.

If you watch TV detective shows set in the past this will be right up your alley.

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