The Bookman by Lavie Tidhar

This is yet another great release from Angry Robot Books. It was purchased for the price of 99p from Amazon UK. That is less that a cup of coffee, less even than a vote for Britain’s got “talent”.  This book is so cheap I almost feel guilty.

Lavie Tidhar is an interesting person to follow on Twitter, or to read short stories by. I don’t always agree with what he says, but he is nearly always thought provoking.

This book is different from all the other Angry Robot books I have read so far. Normally there is a really high pace throughout the story. I don’t think that would have worked with this one. There is a lot going on, and I barely realised I was at the end until I got there. Most of the threads were tied off so nicely, and those that were not seemed to be deliberately so. I am going to have to read Camera Obscura and I am looking forward to it. I found the structure of this book delightful (can’t believe I said that, but it is true). I love the excerpt from famous works that heads each chapter, and provides an insight into what it contains. There are many literary quotes scattered throughout this piece that show the author has a deep and extensive collection of reading materials.

David Icke. There I said it. I can’t help it. I can’t help thinking that this book may actually be deliberately poking fun at the idea of the royal family being 4th dimensional lizards as part of a Jewish New World Order Conspiracy. At least in my mind that is what political scientists and literature lecturers will be saying in fifty years. It is cleverly done, and made into a serious Steampunk novel. Although Lizardpunk may be closer to the mark. The main protagonist has no idea what is going on for the entire novel, which is easy for me to relate to. More importantly, it is not obvious to the reader exactly what is going on to start with. I found the intensity of the book made this a bit of a slog around the half-way point, but it added so much to the story moving forward. The villain? Well that is an interesting point. There is not a defined villain as such, more a collection of different factions that desire vastly differing outcomes. It is a lot more like real life that a classic good vs evil battle.

There is not a great big cinematic over-the-top ending to this story. The ending fits the writing style, and makes sure you want to read the sequel. It requires a lot of brain power to process this book without coming across as pretentious or overly high-minded.

As usual the Robot Overlords have included extras at the end of this book. A goodly portion of Camera Obscura to aid the brainwashing, er, I mean subtle advertising for the next book in the series. I had to start reading something else straight away to stop me buying the next one on the spot.

This book is subtle and clever and enjoyable to read for anyone who like Steampunk or fiction that makes you think. Oh and it has robots in it.

I should also point out that I have just seen the cover for the third book in the series and it is War of the Worlds stunning.

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