Black Chamber (Tales from the Black Chamber #1)
The first novel in a brand-new alternate history series where Teddy Roosevelt is president for a second time right before WWI breaks out, and on his side is the Black Chamber, a secret spy network watching America's back.1916. The Great War rages overseas, and the whole of Europe, Africa, and western Asia is falling to the Central Powers. To win a war that must be won, Teddy Roosevelt, once again the American president, turns to his top secret Black Chamber organization--and its cunning and deadly spy, Luz O'Malley Aróstegui. On a transatlantic airship voyage, Luz poses as an anti-American Mexican revolutionary to get close--very close--to a German agent code-named Imperial Sword. She'll need every skill at her disposal to get him to trust her and lead her deep into enemy territory. In the mountains of Saxony, concealed from allied eyes, the German Reich's plans for keeping the U.S. from entering the conflict are revealed: the deployment of a new diabolical weapon upon the shores of America...

Black Chamber (Tales from the Black Chamber #1) Details

TitleBlack Chamber (Tales from the Black Chamber #1)
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseJul 3rd, 2018
PublisherAce
ISBN-139780399586231
Rating
GenreScience Fiction, Alternate History, Fiction, Spy Thriller, Espionage, Historical, Fantasy, Historical Fiction

Black Chamber (Tales from the Black Chamber #1) Review

  • Dave
    January 1, 1970
    I'm a big fan of alternate histories, particularly when they are done well, and Stirling creates an alternate universe in rather precise detail. It's World War I and a nearly victorious Germany is dominating continental Europe. Back in North America, Teddy Roosevelt has just been elected president again, tough, charming, knowledgeable. And, backed by a secret spy network known as the Black Chamber. Move over James Bond, the premier agent in this network is the stunningly beautiful Cuban-Irish Am I'm a big fan of alternate histories, particularly when they are done well, and Stirling creates an alternate universe in rather precise detail. It's World War I and a nearly victorious Germany is dominating continental Europe. Back in North America, Teddy Roosevelt has just been elected president again, tough, charming, knowledgeable. And, backed by a secret spy network known as the Black Chamber. Move over James Bond, the premier agent in this network is the stunningly beautiful Cuban-Irish American Luz O' Malley, who fights like Wonder Woman (without the magic bracelets). She's tough, clever, charming, and thoroughly modern in outlook, Annie Oakley in a dress. The use of airships (zeppelins), including luxury cruise liners, almost gives this a steampunk feel. It is very detailed and thought out. The action when it occurs is first-rate, although some may find it slows its pace at points. Overall, quite a worthwhile read and the start of a new series.
    more
  • Glen
    January 1, 1970
    I won this book in a goodreads drawing.An alternative history set in a world where Theodore Roosevelt won the election of 1912. The conditions to bring on World war One are in motion, and T.R. has inaugurated a proto-CIA to stop such shenanigans.The heroine of the story, Luz O'Malley Arostegui, is a personal friend to TR, and the only female member of the spy group, The Black Chamber. She goes on assignment, and from there, you basically get a Modesty Blaize novel, only without Willy.Pretty dece I won this book in a goodreads drawing.An alternative history set in a world where Theodore Roosevelt won the election of 1912. The conditions to bring on World war One are in motion, and T.R. has inaugurated a proto-CIA to stop such shenanigans.The heroine of the story, Luz O'Malley Arostegui, is a personal friend to TR, and the only female member of the spy group, The Black Chamber. She goes on assignment, and from there, you basically get a Modesty Blaize novel, only without Willy.Pretty decent.
    more
  • Tim The Enchanter
    January 1, 1970
    Posted to the Literary Lawyer A Great Example of Indulgent Writing - 2 Stars My first experience with S.M. Stirling may very well be my last. If you are looking for a novel in which you get to experience the author’s fantasies and have the privilege of the author explaining to your the MANY topics he researched to write the book, this might be the book for you. Synopsis Ignore the canned synopses you will find scattered across the internet. Despite it’s claims, this is not what I would define Posted to the Literary Lawyer A Great Example of Indulgent Writing - 2 Stars My first experience with S.M. Stirling may very well be my last. If you are looking for a novel in which you get to experience the author’s fantasies and have the privilege of the author explaining to your the MANY topics he researched to write the book, this might be the book for you. Synopsis Ignore the canned synopses you will find scattered across the internet. Despite it’s claims, this is not what I would define an alternate history novel. Abandon any hope of a novel that features a larger than life Teddy Roosevelt and his exploits in some alternate time line. The story focuses on Luz, a female spy of the alternate history version of the Black Chamber, the forerunner of the NSA. She is tasked with getting close to a German Agent under the guise of a Mexican revolutionary fighter of who's identity she has stolen. In a series of serendipitous events, her life is saved by a stranger and she stumble upon a secret that is far greater than anyone anticipated. On her wits alone, she crafts a mission to save the United States from the most diabolical attack they have ever faced. Frustratingly Misleading This is what I would define lazy alternate history. This may stem from my own understanding this type of the concept. It is my expectation that alternate history takes some events of history, changes the outcome and explores what might natural occur as a result. (As an aside, I would suggest you watch The Man in High Castle for a great example. Maybe even read the book. I can't vouch for the original source material). In this novel the author allegedly uses Teddy Roosevelt serving a second term before WWII as the catalyst for the story. Honestly, I am not a student of American History. Maybe these events and the fictionalized Black Chamber would have been natural outcomes but more realistically, this was a massive stretch in an attempt to make the novel seem more interesting. I Think I was supposed to be Impressed There was detail in this book. A LOT of detail. From concepts ranging from electrical engineering, spy techniques, language, history, submarines, rockets and weapons. The author did a considerable amount of research on these topics. How do I know this. The author goes out of his way have the characters spout off lots of facts and details related to each of these (and more) topics. My son loves a book series called My Weird School . One character loves to show off the fact that she read the dictionary. She does this by constantly using big words that no one else understands. This is basically what the author has done. Instead of using the research to craft detailed descriptions or show realistic working of weapons, submarines etc., we get a pages devoted to detail and technical specifications. It wasn’t impressive, it was irritating. To make is worse, the protagonist often speaks in Spanish, without any translation provided. My apologies for being fluent in only one language. This was a major irritant throughout the book.On top of the author’s indulgences, I found the novel contained a troubling love story that underlies the second half of the novel. It is suggested very early that the main female character is a lesbian or bi-sexual. This is not an issue. I only point this out because it is relevant. It is how the romance evolves that I found disconcerting. At one point in the novel, Luz and Ciara, the love interest/serendipitous partner have a discussion about H.G. Wells’ The Time Machine . In an apparent attempt to show he is aware of the representations of women in literature, the characters briefly discuss the trope of the Nubile Savage in The Time Machine . While the character shows some apparent awareness, the character proceeds to use a mix of “skilled but naïve” and “born sexy yesterday” tropes. Ciara is a rather brilliant and beautiful woman who is both naïve about the world as well as her as of yet unexplored sexuality. I could not help but feel uncomfortable though the novel as it felt that it was the innocence and naïveté (about life and her sexuality) that the main character found attractive and appealing. The characters pointed out how H.G. Wells created a love interest that was a “pet with a bosom” while at the same time creating a love interest that was a pet with a bosom that can also do tricks. While the love interest does well for herself in the end, a love story that resolves around an older experienced character falling for a naïve, younger character falling, largely because of those specific characteristics, is questionable in my mind. On top of what I wrote above, the romance was forged during intensely stressful circumstances in which the naïve character had to largely rely on the older experienced character. Regardless of your take, I find love stories that rely on the inequality of the parties to be troublesome. Final Thoughts Despite the attempt to market the book as something it is not, the story is written like an action adventure novel. This is not a problem if you are being honest about what you are writing. A James Rollins novel may not make it to Oprah’s book club, but James Rollins never pretends he is writing anything but action adventure. While the story has the trappings of research, social consciousness and attention to detail, it nothing more than a façade covering an adequately written novel with a questionable plot and a misleading premise. Had the author not tried so hard to convince the reader that this story was something it was not, I would have likely been much kinder in my review.
    more
  • Peter Tillman
    January 1, 1970
    First of a new series set in an alternate WW1, where Teddy Roosevelt won re-election in 1912, along with a more-horrible Great War. This book is about an amazingly-accomplished young female secret agent of US military intelligence, her adventures in Europe, and her discovery of a monstrous plan by the Germans: (view spoiler)[ they have discovered nerve gas, and are planning a large-scale attack on America's East Coast ports. (hide spoiler)]I never quite believed in the protagonist, although her First of a new series set in an alternate WW1, where Teddy Roosevelt won re-election in 1912, along with a more-horrible Great War. This book is about an amazingly-accomplished young female secret agent of US military intelligence, her adventures in Europe, and her discovery of a monstrous plan by the Germans: (view spoiler)[ they have discovered nerve gas, and are planning a large-scale attack on America's East Coast ports. (hide spoiler)]I never quite believed in the protagonist, although her adventures were certainly entertaining. I found the plot a bit ramshackle as well, and the climax rushed and abrupt. Stirling has certainly done his homework, but the results were a bit disappointing. 2.7 starsTom Shippey liked it (WSJ):https://www.wsj.com/articles/science-... "Alternate histories run on details, true facts you didn’t know, factoids that might have been true, challenging you to tell them apart. “Black Chamber” combines them on every level—political, historical and scientific—all worked into a tension-filled tearaway plot. Nor has Mr. Stirling shown his hand yet, for we are obviously booked for sequels. What are those mast-arrays on the German battleships at Wilhelmshaven?"
    more
  • Alan
    January 1, 1970
    I received an ARC from the publisher in exchange for posting an honest review, and after they see this review I may never receive another. If I could have given this book zero stars I would have, but that is not an option. Because I could not not even finish the book. I stopped at 100 pages, which was about 25% of the way through the book. I did not care about any of the characters, the story, the setting, and frankly the books in my TBR stack looked more and more inviting the longer I kept tryi I received an ARC from the publisher in exchange for posting an honest review, and after they see this review I may never receive another. If I could have given this book zero stars I would have, but that is not an option. Because I could not not even finish the book. I stopped at 100 pages, which was about 25% of the way through the book. I did not care about any of the characters, the story, the setting, and frankly the books in my TBR stack looked more and more inviting the longer I kept trying to read this. Frankly it was becoming a hate read, and my time is too valuable for that sort of reading just to stubbornly finish a book. Even though I used to do that, but not any more.I have learned, perhaps confirmed, Stirling's writing is not for me. My ex-wife had two of his books. I couldn't get interested enough to finish those either (they were both in his Draka series).The basic premise is that through am extraordinary bit of luck Teddy Roosevelt's third party run for a third term as president in 1912 is successful. He establishes the Black Chamber an ultra secret intelligence agency as he continues with his plans for an American Empire (he was an imperialist as were many heads of state during that time, and in this book he has essentially annexed Mexico).Now its's 1916 and the U.S. is on the brink of entering WWI. Enter Luz, and Irish Mexican-American orphan with the ear marks of a Jane Bond (more the 1960s movies Bond, not the Bond of the books). Confidence, gadgets and ultra competency galore, but very little character. Her job is to find out more about Germany's plans, which might include fomenting revolution in Ireland and Mexico.But, the French and Germans are stereotypes, the alternate history not convincing enough for me, or exciting enough for me to suspend my disbelief. Reading this was becoming drudge work.(note: this review was apparently deleted when I took the book off of my reading list. I'm re-posting this, in part, because when the Amazon reviews open up I feel obligated to post the review as part of the contract for receiving the ARC).
    more
  • The Lit Bitch
    January 1, 1970
    When this book came across my desk for review—I was stoked. I don’t read a ton of alternative history, but this one sounded so so so good that I was eager to read it without question.I sounded like alternative history mixed with some espionage and sci-fi so how could I pass? I couldn’t!OK so now I remember why I don’t read alternative history. Having a masters in history makes alternative history hard. Like really hard to read. I kept getting confused—-why was this happening? No that’s not what When this book came across my desk for review—I was stoked. I don’t read a ton of alternative history, but this one sounded so so so good that I was eager to read it without question.I sounded like alternative history mixed with some espionage and sci-fi so how could I pass? I couldn’t!OK so now I remember why I don’t read alternative history. Having a masters in history makes alternative history hard. Like really hard to read. I kept getting confused—-why was this happening? No that’s not what happened, I would scream in my head! I literally kept reminding myself that this was a fictionalized account of history—-essentially it was #fakehistoryAdmittedly, it took me a long long long time to read this book mostly because I struggled with my own inner voice telling me that this wasn’t how things happened. I couldn’t just let my mind go and let the story happen.How much of my own personal bias and struggles got factored into this review? Quite a bit if I am being honest. If I take out my own personal struggles with the historical piece, then I would say that this book was rather unique. I thought that Stirling did a great job writing a creative and memorable story for his readers. The premise of the story itself was really detailed and well thought out. Luz was my favorite character. She wasn’t your typical heroine and I really respected Stirling for creating this different and vibrant character.This book is described by some readers as a James Bond-ish style novel and I would agree that this book had a lot of similarities with the infamous spy. Sophisticated, action packed and primarily driven by main characters rather than supporting characters. And I would completely agree with this! Stirling puts his energy into the main characters and I loved that.So where does that leave me? If I was going on my own personal struggles I would say 2 stars but if I am looking at it from an objective perspective—I liked the writing and thought the story was full of creativity and strong characters so I would say based on writing—a 4 star rating. But I had to average them out and settled on 3 stars for this one.This book is truly aimed at fans of alternative history, if you like that sort of thing then you will probably love this book. If you are me and like history to be more or less the same, then you might want to pass on this one. Though if you don’t have a huge understanding of WWI then you might not even care about alternative history!See my full review here
    more
  • Allen Adams
    January 1, 1970
    http://www.themaineedge.com/buzz/blac...My affection for the alternate history subgenre of speculative fiction is no secret. I’ve always been enamored of the answers to “what if?” questions that these sorts of stories can provide. The idea that one small difference can cause ripples that lead to larger and larger divergences – it makes for fascinating fiction.S.M. Stirling is one of the foremost practitioners of alternate history; his latest is “Black Chamber,” the first in a series about a Worl http://www.themaineedge.com/buzz/blac...My affection for the alternate history subgenre of speculative fiction is no secret. I’ve always been enamored of the answers to “what if?” questions that these sorts of stories can provide. The idea that one small difference can cause ripples that lead to larger and larger divergences – it makes for fascinating fiction.S.M. Stirling is one of the foremost practitioners of alternate history; his latest is “Black Chamber,” the first in a series about a World War I that was significantly different than our own, from the enemies being fought and the institutions doing the fighting. It’s a strong introduction, one that hints at the many differences – large and small – between that history and this one.The year is 1916. Teddy Roosevelt is the President of the United States, having made his way back to the White House after years away. His latest foray into the Oval Office has resulted in some bigger, bolder initiatives – both domestic and international – that are leading toward an America that is much more progressive in some respects, yet considerably more conservative in others.In this world, rather than wait until WWII for a covert agency (i.e. the OSS/CIA) to spring up, Roosevelt created the Black Chamber, a secret organization devoted to espionage and other unsavory work that the powers that be would prefer to see confined to the shadows.Luz is an agent of the Black Chamber, highly educated and highly skilled; she’s one of the best they’ve got. Her assignment is to infiltrate the upper echelon of the German effort to wage war on Europe and beyond. Posing as a Mexican revolutionary with an anti-American bent, Luz uses all of her skills to with the confidence of a German agent code-named Imperial Sword; said agent has been in America for reasons that Luz’s superiors would very much like to know.But when Luz succeeds in gaining the necessary trust and proximity, the plot that is ultimately revealed to her far outstrips anything she could have anticipated. For in the remote mountains of Saxony, a plan is being set in motion to ensure that the United States will be unable to enter the looming conflict – a plan that has potentially horrifying consequences for not just Luz and her contemporaries, but possibly the entire nation. And she has to trust someone … but who?“Black Chamber” has a lot going for it. There’s a richness of detail with regards to the world building that is quite nice; when it comes to this sort of thing, I tend to lean more toward the “less is more” attitude. That is, I’m not someone who needs exposition dumps – a handful of organically provided moments of specificity beats the hell out of text blocks of authorial hand-holding. Stirling trusts the story and trusts the reader, allowing for a feeling of discovery.Granted, it only works because of a solid sense of characterization. Luz makes for a fine heroine – smart and capable while also flawed. She serves the foundation of the narrative without ever feeling like she’s invulnerable; despite her status as the main character, she never feels 100 percent safe. That balance is VERY hard to pull off.And of course, when you’ve got someone who knows how to put together a spy story doing the telling, it’s tough not to be sucked in. It’s tense and propulsive for the most part; there are a couple of stretches where the action lags just a bit, but the narrative rarely loses much steam. You’ve got the requisite sharp turns and surprising developments – it’s just a good espionage yarn.Granted, there are a few things I would have wanted from “Black Chamber.” I’d have liked a bit more Teddy Roosevelt – the flashes we get certainly whet the appetite. And it gets a little crowded and abrupt in the third act. But those are relatively minor criticisms – it’s definitely a page-turner.If “Black Chamber” is any indication, we can expect this newest series from S.M. Stirling to offer the same level of historical veracity and adventuresome storytelling that we’ve come to expect. It’s a strong start – one whose continuation I anxiously await.
    more
  • SS
    January 1, 1970
    There’s common advice, from librarians and others, that if you reach page 50 in a book and don’t love it, you should set it aside and move on. I stuck with this book for more than three times that amount, and I don’t love it. I think I could have loved it, but as it is, I don’t.The author can, from a technical view – spelling, punctuation, syntax, etc. - write. However, I think he’s out of his comfort zone in this book. There’s a story buried in the pages, somewhere, but it takes so much effort There’s common advice, from librarians and others, that if you reach page 50 in a book and don’t love it, you should set it aside and move on. I stuck with this book for more than three times that amount, and I don’t love it. I think I could have loved it, but as it is, I don’t.The author can, from a technical view – spelling, punctuation, syntax, etc. - write. However, I think he’s out of his comfort zone in this book. There’s a story buried in the pages, somewhere, but it takes so much effort to try to find it. It’s clear that the author knows “stuff”, and he wants to share it, all of it. The story is told by the character of Luz, a young intelligence agent in 1916. She’s on a mission to learn about what’s happening in Germany during WWI. She gets herself into some touchy situations, but having joined with German officer Horst, both romantically and on official duty, she manages to wiggle out of them. That sounds good, right? But Luz is constantly musing about unrelated things: philosophy, history, food, weather, combat techniques, castle building, womens’ fashion, piano quality, violin quality, music, composers, Electrical Experimenter Magazine, the cost of things in 1916. It’s exhausting reading. These constant non-sequiturs create so much distraction that the story gets lost in the muddle.This is one of a very few books I haven’t finished in many years, and I might have stuck with this one until the end if it wasn’t taking such a toll on my patience. I want to yell, “Get to the point, already!” But it never does. Here’s a sample from about page 150: Luz, her German cohorts, German high military commanders, and another woman are invited to witness a horrific event where hundreds of prisoners are killed in front of their eyes. Afterwards, the women retire to their room. They don’t mention what they’ve just witnessed, despite the fact that it made the one woman violently sick to her stomach. Instead, they conveniently have a piano and violin in their room, so they begin to play a duet or two. I can see that they might do that to take their minds off of the terrible thing they just saw, but all along, Luz’s musings wander all over the place, from topic to topic, none of which have anything to do with what has or will happen, or the fact that they are likely in danger. I understand that the author wants to show what a well-educated and smart young woman Luz is, but, as I said, it’s distracting. At the same time, Luz, who’s undercover, reveals her real identity and purpose to this woman she’s just met, in a German colonel’s office, and knows little to nothing about. It seems very unrealistic.Also, while the summary for this book says:In an alternative 1912, President Taft suddenly dies, and Teddy Roosevelt wastes no time in grabbing power as he wins another term as president.So far, all I’ve seen of Teddy Roosevelt is in the prologue, a mere seven pages. Luz mentions him from time to time, but as far as I can tell, with more than 40% read, this book really doesn’t seem to involve him.One big suggestion if you’re going to tackle this book is to know your WWI era history backward and forwards. If not, you’ll be lost. Also, be prepared for some shocks, like Hawaii already being the forty-ninth state, with discussion of how it’s possible that the Philippines and/or Puerto Rico could soon become states, too. There’s no explanation about how Hawaii came to be a state at that time, or when, exactly, it did. Also be prepared to find yourself in the midst of a lot of Spanish words and phrases with no attempt at helping you understand their meaning. I spent a lot of time on my phone looking up translations as I read along. This, too, makes it hard to follow whatever story there is. Later in the book, the Spanish seems to ease off a little. In it’s place, there are German phrases, but for these, explanations are worked in. I never understand why authors think it’s a good idea to dump a lot of foreign language into a book written in English without any attempt to assist the reader in understanding the meaning. Also, I found the long chapter headings confusing. What do the little capital "B's in parenthesis mean? Why was it necessary to write them in two languages? I can only hope that some of this was corrected in final editing.I find that each time I reach for the book, I hesitate to pick it up. I willfully start looking for something, anything, else to do instead of reading further. For me, that’s a strong sign that I should move on. Maybe I’ll come back and finish this story at some point, but it won’t be soon. There are so many good books out there that are rewarding to read, I just can’t justify wasting time reading something that feels like punishment.I appreciate having won an ARC of this book through a Goodreads giveaway, but I just can’t force myself to read any further.
    more
  • Randal White
    January 1, 1970
    The first installment of a new series, Black Chamber is an alternative history novel of the period just prior to America's entry into World War 1. In this timeline, Teddy Roosevelt is president, and has set America on his "Progressive" path. The book is the story of a secret agent, Luz, who is sent undercover to discover what Germany is planning. She discovers a plan for Germany to employ a truly deadly secret weapon against the United States. I really enjoy some of Stirling's books. The "Island The first installment of a new series, Black Chamber is an alternative history novel of the period just prior to America's entry into World War 1. In this timeline, Teddy Roosevelt is president, and has set America on his "Progressive" path. The book is the story of a secret agent, Luz, who is sent undercover to discover what Germany is planning. She discovers a plan for Germany to employ a truly deadly secret weapon against the United States. I really enjoy some of Stirling's books. The "Island in the Sea of Time" series and the "Change" series are some of my favorite alternative history books. Stirling has set up the beginning of another intriguing series with this book. However, there were some parts of the book that I had issues with. For one, the pacing of the book was sometimes challenging, and somewhat disappointing. For example, Stirling goes on and on for 12 pages describing the hero climbing a wall, while seeming to rush through more important parts. A second issue was that the premise of the beginning of Roosevelt's presidency were missing. For example, Stirling several times refers to a war with Mexico, and the rise of the "Black Chamber" spy agency, but he never tells the reader what happened. Perhaps he will explain in subsequent books, but it would have added greatly to the story if he had done it in the first. All in all, I found this to be a fun read. I had a hard time putting it down. And I am looking forward to the next book.
    more
  • Georgia
    January 1, 1970
    Find more in Chill and read“Black Chamber” is the first installment in an alternative history series positioned right before America’s entry in the Great War. I really enjoyed it and I am looking forward to the next in line!Theodore Roosevelt has been elected president in 1912 and he is still at the White House in 1916. He has brought a lot of progress in the States ever since and has created a Secret service called Black Chamber. His secret service agents have intelligence of a great weapon bei Find more in Chill and read“Black Chamber” is the first installment in an alternative history series positioned right before America’s entry in the Great War. I really enjoyed it and I am looking forward to the next in line!Theodore Roosevelt has been elected president in 1912 and he is still at the White House in 1916. He has brought a lot of progress in the States ever since and has created a Secret service called Black Chamber. His secret service agents have intelligence of a great weapon being built in Germany that is expected to attack the States. Therefore he sends one of his best senior operatives to work it out.Luz is a senior Black Chamber operative. She is a Cuban-American with friendly relations to President Roosevelt. She boards a flying vessel heading to Amsterdam with the task to portray as a Mexican revolutionario and cooperate with the Germans, in order to get more information on their plan. She gets in touch with the German contact and establishes her path there.Stirling has done a great job creating an alternative Universe, where Kaiser Wilhelm is attacking both Europe and America with deadly weapons of mass distraction. The English and the French are really suffering under the Central Powers rage. It’s only the Americans that can help, but they haven’t yet engage in War.Secret agent Luz is a marvelous character. She is a very capable woman. She is trained and strong and as good as any male operative would be. She is quite intelligent too. Luz can understand many things about a person based on their body language, their accent and their reactions to every situation.The secondary characters are very well built as well. Ciara is a woman that understands mechanics and technology. She is quite rare for that period of time. Horst, on the other hand, is a very powerful man. He is strong and smart and very open minded. He admires the two ladies for their personalities and rare capabilities. That’s very honourable of the author, as it was a man’s world, as it still is in many cases.
    more
  • All Things Urban Fantasy
    January 1, 1970
    Review courtesy of All Things Urban FantasyWhile I was happy to read an alternative history thriller as a change of pace, reading BLACK CHAMBER felt like a chore to work through with it's extensive detail about almost everything which slowed the plot way down or just confused me at times. I love a good world building effort and this book excels at that but getting into the minutia of every little detail became over whelming at points and parts that I wanted more explanation on were skimmed over Review courtesy of All Things Urban FantasyWhile I was happy to read an alternative history thriller as a change of pace, reading BLACK CHAMBER felt like a chore to work through with it's extensive detail about almost everything which slowed the plot way down or just confused me at times. I love a good world building effort and this book excels at that but getting into the minutia of every little detail became over whelming at points and parts that I wanted more explanation on were skimmed over leaving me guess as to why characters where doing things and what was going on generally.Confusion and exhaustion aside, the alternative history aspect of the plot was fun to read. I enjoyed seeing what changes to history were made and the book had an exciting steampunk James Bond feel but with a female as the titular suave spy. I liked Luz though at times she does come off as too perfect, she's a wonderfully vibrant and tough lead character. The other characters were fun too and I enjoyed learning about the various alliances and more about the Black Chamber spy group.BLACK CHAMBER is a well researched and thought out alternate history thriller set during WWI but I felt like I needed to know a lot more about the real WWI to understand everything that was happening in this alternate history. I enjoyed the thriller part and Luz fighting the bad guys on an airship was awesome. Since this is the first book, there is a lot of set up required so I'm hoping the next book in this series focuses more on the espionage and less on the details of this world and every characters' backgrounds.
    more
  • Erik Kendall
    January 1, 1970
     “I received free books from Penguin Random House in exchange for this review.” I have always liked alternate history books and this is now one of my favorites!
  • John Purvis
    January 1, 1970
    "Black Chamber" eBook was published in 2018 and was written by S. M. Stirling (https://smstirling.com). Mr. Stirling has published more than 50 novels. I received an ARC of this novel through https://www.netgalley.com in return for a fair and honest review. I categorize this novel as ‘R’ because it contains scenes of Violence and some Mature Situations. The story is set during the World War I years, though in an alternate timeline. In this world, President Taft dies in office and Teddy Roosevelt "Black Chamber" eBook was published in 2018 and was written by S. M. Stirling (https://smstirling.com). Mr. Stirling has published more than 50 novels. I received an ARC of this novel through https://www.netgalley.com in return for a fair and honest review. I categorize this novel as ‘R’ because it contains scenes of Violence and some Mature Situations. The story is set during the World War I years, though in an alternate timeline. In this world, President Taft dies in office and Teddy Roosevelt becomes president again instead of Wilson. The result is a much more conservative US. A US that is primed to enter World War I against Germany. The primary character of the story is Luz O'Malley Aróstegui, a young woman who is a spy for the Black Chamber, an American intelligence organization. She is sent on a secret mission to Europe posing as a Mexican revolutionary who is seeking Germany's assistance. She discovers that the Germans plan a secret attack against American cities to delay them from entering the war. Aróstegui must use both her feminine wiles as well as her considerable skill to fool the Germans, obtain the information she has been sent for, and report her findings.  I thoroughly enjoyed the 13.5 hours I spent reading this 400 page alternate history thriller. The altered timeline is interesting and gives a foundation for some creative stories. I have read many of Mr. Stirling's novels and have found them all very entertaining. The chosen cover art is OK. I give this novel a 4.5 (rounded up to a 5) out of 5.Further book reviews I have written can be accessed at https://johnpurvis.wordpress.com/blog/.
    more
  • Bill Powers
    January 1, 1970
    Okay, I did something I rarely do. I put this book down. I plowed through to about 35% and had enough.I came across a review on Black Chamber by S. M. Stirling in the Wall Street Journal. It had some of my favorite interest – alternative history and Theodore Roosevelt. The premise is that during the 1912 US presidential election, President Taft dies, Teddy wins the Republican nomination and becomes President of the United States – again. Teddy is then POTUS during World War I. Excellent premise, Okay, I did something I rarely do. I put this book down. I plowed through to about 35% and had enough.I came across a review on Black Chamber by S. M. Stirling in the Wall Street Journal. It had some of my favorite interest – alternative history and Theodore Roosevelt. The premise is that during the 1912 US presidential election, President Taft dies, Teddy wins the Republican nomination and becomes President of the United States – again. Teddy is then POTUS during World War I. Excellent premise, right? Wrong! Teddy Roosevelt is barely in the storyline. He is name-dropped by one of the characters, incessantly. Unfortunately Black Chamber is a disappointment. It is “overwritten” with a heavy hand by the author using pretentious and pedantic dialog that is hard to slog through. It’s as though the author is trying to show off how much knowledge he accumulated in his research and is determined to share all of it; to the point of getting in the way of the story. Characters are unlikable and come across as cardboard stereotypes. The protagonist, Luz, annoyingly switches between English and Spanish mid-sentence throughout the book, which pulls the reader off stride.After a while, I started to speed read just to plow through – not an enjoyable experience for a pleasure read, until I concluded this was a waste of my time. I don’t know who the target audience reader is, but I’m not one. Black Chamber is supposed to be the first in a series. It is my last read of the series.
    more
  • Noreen Fish
    January 1, 1970
    This book is a great spy story wrapped up in a fascinating alternate history. The preface sets the scene. In 1912, Teddy Roosevelt is contending against William Taft for the soul of the Republican party Progressives versus Conservatives, respectively, when a telegram arrives. Taft has died of a heart attack, leaving TR a clear path to another term as president.A few years later, the First World War is raging in Europe. TR is on the verge of joining Britain and France to fight the Kaiser. A field This book is a great spy story wrapped up in a fascinating alternate history. The preface sets the scene. In 1912, Teddy Roosevelt is contending against William Taft for the soul of the Republican party Progressives versus Conservatives, respectively, when a telegram arrives. Taft has died of a heart attack, leaving TR a clear path to another term as president.A few years later, the First World War is raging in Europe. TR is on the verge of joining Britain and France to fight the Kaiser. A field operative of TR’s Black Chamber and a young woman of varied and interesting background, Luz O’Malley Arostegui, takes a luxury airship to France and inserts herself into the middle of a multi-nation spy versus spy caper. What she discovers is a monstrous weapon that’s about to be unleashed on the unsuspecting United States, unless she can get word back to the president in time.This feels like the beginning of a series, and I’m certainly hoping to read more about Luz!
    more
  • Picky Virgo
    January 1, 1970
    Stirling delivers a well-written tale (as usual), but that’s all I can say about it. His painstaking descriptions of minutae in both apparel and weaponry seemed to drag interminably. I found myself skipping entire pages, just to get to the end of an interlude whose outcome wasn’t in question. If there’s another volume in this saga, please count me out.
    more
  • Virginia
    January 1, 1970
    **Review to come**
  • Michael V. Smith
    January 1, 1970
    New book and a different directionfrom Mr. Stirling. Black Chamber is a fast paced AH spy novel. Quite different from the Change series that has just concluded. Great character development, romance, concept and action. All ingredients we have come to expect from one of my favorite authors. You will love it.
    more
  • susan
    January 1, 1970
    I received free books from Penguin Random House in exchange for this reviewThis is not normally the kind of book I'd pick up. I'm really into history, and I enjoy reading historical novels, but somehow I've never really gotten into alternative history books (unless alternate history is part of a time travel sci fi book or something). I think I read one Harry Turtledove book I didn't like and it sort of turned me off the whole genre. But after this one I may have to revise my opinion.I picked thi I received free books from Penguin Random House in exchange for this reviewThis is not normally the kind of book I'd pick up. I'm really into history, and I enjoy reading historical novels, but somehow I've never really gotten into alternative history books (unless alternate history is part of a time travel sci fi book or something). I think I read one Harry Turtledove book I didn't like and it sort of turned me off the whole genre. But after this one I may have to revise my opinion.I picked this up as a free ARC at a comic con and I was pleasantly surprised with how good it was. The underlying concept is really interesting (President Taft dies in 1912, Teddy Roosevelt gets elected, enacts a passel of Progressive new policies, sometimes in ways that seem almost undemocratic, and has to deal with America getting involved in the Great War). I liked the idea of a female spy operating in this time period, and how she uses chauvinistic ingrained attitudes to her advantage while still being entirely capable.The plot itself is intriguing (the Germans are up to something that might affect America's interests and our heroine, Luz, must figure out what it is by impersonating a Mexican revolutionary and cozying up to a German spy), and Luz is a great character. I feel like some people would probably say she's too much of a super spy (she's pretty much good at everything, and she's got a Sherlock Holmesian way of figuring people out just by the way they speak, i.e. hearing Ciara speak once in broken German and determining exactly where she was born and raised and that she's lower middle class, etc), but I didn't mind it. As a woman in her business at this time, she'd have to be this capable or she would never have been accepted in the first place. I really liked Ciara as well and Horst was a good antagonist, although aside from the two of them, there's not a lot going on in the way of supporting character development (this reminded me in a lot of ways of James Bond books/movies).There are times when Luz (the story is told mostly from her POV) goes on digressions about weapons, or technology, or the countryside, or how Germans act, or her past, or the aforementioned Holmesian analyses, and these digressions often take place in the middle of another scene. I didn't mind (I'm a sucker for little character details and I really liked Luz and her unique voice), but I can see this being bothersome to people who aren't as intrigued by historical detail as I am. (The author also frequently has Luz break into German or Spanish, although seldom for more than a sentence at a time, and doesn't translate most of it. None of it is essential to the plot, so you don't NEED to translate it, but I definitely had google translate out myself, because I like to know all these things. This might be something else that some may find bothersome, even though I didn't personally).The action is scenes are well written, the historical context is well explained, and Luz's challenges as both a double agent and a woman are interesting and fleshed out. There is also a rather unexpectedly sweet love story going on as well. It's doesn't overwhelm the plot, but I enjoyed the bits of it that were there. It's just enough that you understand why the two characters like each other and you're invested in how it turns out, and it makes the ending even better.This is supposed to be the first in a series of Black Chamber novels, and though I've never read SM Stirling before, I would absolutely read another book involving these characters. I hope the other books will involve Luz as well, because I would really enjoy following her adventures, especially given that the book sets up a situation that has a lot of possibilities for further action for her. This is good reality based escapist fiction, and I'm ready for another volume.
    more
  • Kylah Peterman
    January 1, 1970
    Excellent book! S.M. Stirling creates detailed characters and a story that comes alive in your mind. Plenty of action and a lovely ending.
  • Arlene Kellas
    January 1, 1970
    This isn’t a book that I would normally pick up. I got an advanced copy at Emerald City Comic Con and thought I’d give it a try. I generally like altered history stories anyway. My brother and dad were the history lovers in the family and luckily I learned a bit. I could see where someone that doesn’t know the basic history timeline could easily get sucked into this story as real. Basically President Taft dies earlier than he should and a very progressive party lead by Teddy Roosevelt takes cont This isn’t a book that I would normally pick up. I got an advanced copy at Emerald City Comic Con and thought I’d give it a try. I generally like altered history stories anyway. My brother and dad were the history lovers in the family and luckily I learned a bit. I could see where someone that doesn’t know the basic history timeline could easily get sucked into this story as real. Basically President Taft dies earlier than he should and a very progressive party lead by Teddy Roosevelt takes control. Since he’s progressive a lot of things start happening earlier like women’s rights, etc. This book follows the story of a female spy that is sent into Germany to find out what is going on. Word is out that the Germans have a new weapon and it’s her job to find out about it. What she uncovers is terrifying and now the race is on to save America. The book interestingly uses German, Spanish and even some French to get points across and remind you of the characters and where they are from. Some is explained/translated some isn’ which I found frustrating as I like to understand what I’m reading. Luz’s character was well thought out. The way she thinks, acts everything. It was amazing sometimes reading her as she came across quite like an American James Bond. She had a few nifty items to use and was a lethal weapon on her own. I would read more of her adventures if there are any.
    more
  • Sarai Henderson
    January 1, 1970
    A thrilling story that flips history on its head. Stirling has a way of painting a beautiful world. Right up there with some of my favorite world builders like Robert Jordan and Sarah J. Maas. The world is so wonderful that it flows us through the story like a boat on a river. Had a great time reading this book.Received an advance reader copy in exchange for a fair review.
    more
  • Robbie Truex
    January 1, 1970
    I received free books from Penguin Random House in exchange for this review.
  • Roni
    January 1, 1970
    I received free books from Penguin Random House in exchange for this review!Now, I was never a huge fan of historical fiction, but this book was the first step in bringing me around! I enjoyed the voice of the lead character, the descriptions were captivating, and the premise was just strange enough to keep me intrigued but plausible enough to not throw me out of the story.Def would recommend to folks that enjoy the idea of alternative historical fiction!
    more
  • Jillian
    January 1, 1970
    Thoroughly enjoyed spy thriller, it kept me laughing and suspenseful the whole way through.
  • Max
    January 1, 1970
    This was a relatively fun read, though I admit the book ended up being somewhat different from what I expected. Technically it's an alternate history, but really a lot of the setting stuff is an excuse for Stirling to tell this spy story he's interested in telling, which in general is how he writes. After all, this is an alternate history where Teddy Roosevelt becoming president again leads to a far more desperate Germany in World War I armed with superweapons and an America with a nationalized This was a relatively fun read, though I admit the book ended up being somewhat different from what I expected. Technically it's an alternate history, but really a lot of the setting stuff is an excuse for Stirling to tell this spy story he's interested in telling, which in general is how he writes. After all, this is an alternate history where Teddy Roosevelt becoming president again leads to a far more desperate Germany in World War I armed with superweapons and an America with a nationalized railroad, trans-Atlantic airships, modern gender equality, and a 1910s version of DARPA. Don't go into this expecting an in-depth explanation of how all these changes arise from the turning point in this alternate timeline. And, unfortunately for me, Teddy is something of a background character, outside of the prologue that focuses on his reaction to Taft's death, the event that sets up this whole alternate history to begin with.Also, I expected a lot more of the plot to occur on the airship, a la Airborn by Kenneth Oppel. Instead the airship part of the plot forms the first chapter and much of the story instead takes place in the heart of Germany as our heroine Luz tries to figure out what new weapon they have that they plan to deploy against America. Of course there's still a lot of fun vehicle action, as by the end Luz and the other characters have traveled by train and U-Boat, not to mention a pretty exciting car chase through the streets of Boston. And really there's a lot of action in general, as Luz is forced to pretend to be a contact from Mexico working for the Germans, so she and her frenemy Horst have to deal with British and French secret agents on their adventures. The plot did get a bit slow at times, especially when Luz and co. are hanging out at a manor in Germany. Although the weapons demonstration showing the power of the new Breath of Loki gas was effectively horrible, in general it felt like the pace in this part was a bit off. I can't help but feel like the book could've been tightened up some in general, and a better, faster book would likely lead me to give this a higher rating. (Also, I admit I was expecting something more steampunk and/or gonzo as the big weapon the plot revolves around.)There's a nice cast of characters here, as Luz herself is Cuban and Irish and bisexual, not to mention a pretty serious badass. Horst and the other Germans are treated pretty fairly - they're the bad guys but many of them aren't awful people and there's some nice discussion of the ways war changes people. There's also Ciara, an Irish woman from Boston who was also recruited by the Germans but now, seeing what they're actually up to, is doing her best to help Luz take them down. One of the things that was interesting was that early on Luz and Horst have a fair bit of sex, as part of her plot to get him to trust her, but this begins to fade out of the novel about halfway through, and Luz begins to be more attracted to Ciara. It's nice to have a woman/woman couple in a spy novel like this (especially since both women make it to the end), but it did sometimes feel a little odd in the way it lead to Horst somewhat fading out of the novel in general. I'll be curious to see how Luz and Ciara's relationship is viewed by society/the Black Chamber if they continue to be the focal characters as the series continues.Overall this is a fun story as long as you aren't looking for a serious and carefully constructed alternate history. I don't really read a lot of spy fiction, and I admit that it was the President Teddy gimmick that drew me in more than anything, but I'm glad I read this as I had an enjoyable time. Certainly it's a good start to the series and I'm optimistic that the Tales from the Black Chamber will go better than the last series of Stirling's I read.
    more
  • Brett Thomasson
    January 1, 1970
    In a lot of ways, alternative history fits oddly on the sci-fi shelves, since a lot of it reads more like historical fiction than anything with spaceships, aliens or ray guns. Authors work in it for several reasons, one of them being the chance to write that kind of historical fiction without worrying about the speedbumps provided by actual events. Sometimes these "allohistorical" novels try to show us something about the way real history worked by shifting actual events to another stage. Harry In a lot of ways, alternative history fits oddly on the sci-fi shelves, since a lot of it reads more like historical fiction than anything with spaceships, aliens or ray guns. Authors work in it for several reasons, one of them being the chance to write that kind of historical fiction without worrying about the speedbumps provided by actual events. Sometimes these "allohistorical" novels try to show us something about the way real history worked by shifting actual events to another stage. Harry Turtledove did this with a ten-volume series that gave the Confederacy a victory in the original Civil War and then moved the major conflicts of both World Wars to the American continent, complete with its own horrifying Holocaust.S. M. Stirling has written several kinds of alternative history novels, and his most recent Black Chamber falls squarely in the first camp: It's a historical spy romp through a tweaked version of World War I that has Teddy Roosevelt back in office when William Howard Taft dies before he can win the Republican Party nomination for president in 1912. Roosevelt makes decisive moves to strengthen America and implement his progressive agenda, and among those moves is the creation of a spy agency known as "the Black Chamber."A top Chamber agent is the Irish-Cuban Luz O'Malley, who is posing as an Irish-Mexican rebel allied with the Germans (Roosevelt invaded and annexed portions of Mexico) in order to gain information on a secret German weapons plan. Luz has to work with the German agent Horst von Duckler while keeping him at arm's length so he doesn't discover who she really is -- although he's rather delightful to have around. Ciara Whelan, an American working with Irish rebels against England and also aiding the Germans, will play a role as well, but on whose side?Chamber opens with several high-octane set pieces as Luz cements her faux-alliance with Horst by fending off attacks from "enemy" agents. But once it gets to the actual German weapons plot things bog down considerably, as Stirling over-indulges in flashbacks and musings from Luz about her own history and the state of the world. Her own close ties with Roosevelt allow her to reflect on how his re-election has made almost everything better all the way around. The reality is most of the book between that point and the final act kickoff could be chopped from the book and leave the story arc no worse off. Luz's impossible competence leeches the narrative of suspense and life, and her impossible 21st century outlook amongst the backward provincials helps not at all.Stirling can write some great adventure yarns within a tweaked but plausible world, as in The Peshawar Lancers. He can play with fun characters and create a different reality with just a few strong strokes, as in that book and his "Lords of Creation" duology. Why he does neither here in favor of a clunky narrative, drab characters and evangelizing for Teddy-knows-best progressivism (with a dollop of authoritarian sauce) isn't at all clear. Original available here.
    more
  • Brentman99
    January 1, 1970
    I have to say that I absolutely love alternative history and I have read a lot of it. And in the past, S.M. Stirling has done a great job. However, this book left me a bit frustrated and disappointed. Let me explain.The frustration part came from the dates at the beginning of each chapter. I could be wrong, but I think that things started going south in Chapter 8 when we went from September 12th, 1916 to September 8th, 1916 for Chapter 9. It went chronologically until Chapter 12, then we went fr I have to say that I absolutely love alternative history and I have read a lot of it. And in the past, S.M. Stirling has done a great job. However, this book left me a bit frustrated and disappointed. Let me explain.The frustration part came from the dates at the beginning of each chapter. I could be wrong, but I think that things started going south in Chapter 8 when we went from September 12th, 1916 to September 8th, 1916 for Chapter 9. It went chronologically until Chapter 12, then we went from September 15th, back to September 11th in Chapter 13. In other words, Luz took the pictures in Chapter 12 on September 15th, then discussed how to develop them in Chapter 13 on September 11th. Did I miss a flashback or something? I was travelling and interrupted a lot while reading this, so maybe I missed some back and forth in time. I thought that the A and B for each time period may have been for that purpose. If so, my apologies, Mr. Stirling.I did like a lot of the action and the premise of the book is great. I read the Sea of Time series and in this book Stirling does a great job of having strong female characters in non-traditional role, which is refreshing. However, my disappointment comes from my question of do they all have to be closet or open lesbians? I have nothing against someone's sexual preference and it worked very well in the Sea of Time series. But in this book, it seemed to me that the last chapter was really only there to close off this part of the story, which was an aside, rather than a main driver of the plot. I heard that this is the first of a series, so maybe it is more important later on, and I would have bought it as part of the second last chapter. But the way it was presented here seemed a bit forced where it appeared. Again, is it just me who saw this? Gay or straight doesn't matter, but how a part of the character's make up fits into the story and impacts the ending does.Overall. I liked the book and it was a worthwhile read. I'll be interested to see what follows and will definitely be buying the next one.
    more
  • Elliott
    January 1, 1970
    Though I've come to despise his Draka series I still maintain that S.M. Stirling, compared to the other frequent purveyor's of alternate history (see Harry Turtledove) is by far better. It's not just that his ideas are more original-which they are- but they're also better thought out and better written. That makes this novel unusual in comparison to his others. The point of departure for this novel, which I can reveal without giving anything away, is that Theodore Roosevelt manages to secure his Though I've come to despise his Draka series I still maintain that S.M. Stirling, compared to the other frequent purveyor's of alternate history (see Harry Turtledove) is by far better. It's not just that his ideas are more original-which they are- but they're also better thought out and better written. That makes this novel unusual in comparison to his others. The point of departure for this novel, which I can reveal without giving anything away, is that Theodore Roosevelt manages to secure his sought after third presidential term. The great part about this for someone who is decidedly left-wing as myself is that Teddy Roosevelt then ushers in what amounts to The New Deal a little under 30 years beforehand including both the Civil Rights portion and a working Equal Rights Amendment for women. As if to fully cement his own positioning on the political spectrum he renames the Republican Party the Progressive Republican Party leaving a truncated Democratic Party as the bastion of Dixie conservatism. But despite things looking pretty great in the U.S. of A Europe is in the midst of the Great War slogging fest and Uncle Teddy realizes that it is just a bit of time until the War comes to American shores as Germany attempts to master the World...Surprisingly with a world as rich as this, the novel starts out slowly. Far slower than Stirling can manage. The novel begins on a flashback showing how Teddy Roosevelt manages his third term which detracts from the story since not only is it unnecessary for the plotline it's an false, and slow start for what is ultimately a thriller. Stirling is too good of an author to bother with these sorts of explanatory introductions in his other more complex worlds that he has created. For this novel it's really just a matter of a different presidential election. He didn't require a similar chapter for either book in his Lords of Creation series where an alien intelligence very likely seeded two and maybe three planets with life millennia prior, nor an expository chapter in The Peshawar Lancers where a comet collides with Earth and keeps society at approximately a late-Victorian level, and certainly not his Draka series which has literally dozens of places where history considerably varies from our own and may indeed have benefitted from some explanation like Stirling does here. Although, even minus the opening chapter I didn't think much of the remainder of the story. I thought that the novel was enamored purely on its technical and technological aspects that the remainder-including plot and characters-felt attached to the gadgets and not vice versa. I have little doubt that I will not be reading any of the follow up novels in this series.
    more
  • Jim Bogue
    January 1, 1970
    This could have been a really fun and exciting novel. Stirling is a veteran of the alt-history genre, and I have loved some of his books. He starts here by tweaking history - William Howard Taft dies of a heart attack in 1912 and Teddy Roosevelt gets the Republican nomination and beats Woodrow Wilson for the presidency. Then we leap four years forward into the midst of WWI and add a Mexican-Irish-American heroine with impressive fighting skills. She is a member of the Black Chamber (sort of a pr This could have been a really fun and exciting novel. Stirling is a veteran of the alt-history genre, and I have loved some of his books. He starts here by tweaking history - William Howard Taft dies of a heart attack in 1912 and Teddy Roosevelt gets the Republican nomination and beats Woodrow Wilson for the presidency. Then we leap four years forward into the midst of WWI and add a Mexican-Irish-American heroine with impressive fighting skills. She is a member of the Black Chamber (sort of a proto CIA/Special Forces). She is off to thwart Germany, which the US is on the brink of war with.This sounds like a recipe for an exciting spy thriller (and Stirling envisages it as the first of a series), but to me it is not. By the end I was just turning pages to see what would happen and how our heroine, and her trusty sidekick, would improbably get out of yet another scrape. To this reader there are two major flaws in the book. First is the author’s decision to jump four years rather than do world building. From the point of view of writing this novel it is necessary, but it leads to a huge amount of back-flashing and in scene explanation. And, since I think having Teddy as President might well have prevented the war, to a major suspension of disbelief.The other problem is the sheer amount of coincidence involved. The plot seems to move by a bunch of contrived circumstances. And the way that the heroine and her (naturally coincidentally met) sidekick’s skills complement each other is breathtaking.The idea is fun, the settings well researched and presented, and I will read volume two when it comes out. But this could be, and should be, a better book.
    more
Write a review