Book Reviews 2005 (11-12)

Another pair of book reviews for your edification.
Family Trade, Book One of the Merchant Princes, by Charles Stross
Burndive, by Karin Lowachee

The Family Trade (Merchant Princes) by Charles Stross
I’ve anticipated this book for quite some time. One part Amber, one part Piper, one part De Camp, and a lot of moxie and well thought out implications. Its classified as fantasy, but aside from the “worldwalking” powers of the Family, there is no fantasy to be found.
If anything, the science in this novel is…get ready for it, economics. This is but the first in a larger volume (split even more stridently than the Elizabeth Bear novel I reviewed last time). Stross, though, has done his homework in making a medieval-tech world that knows of and deals with firearms imported from the other side, as well as many of the implications of worldwalking.
Except for the fact that the story stops thanks to the book being cut, I have few complaints about the book. Oh, I am sure I can find one or two if I wanted to but I enjoyed it too much.
Recommended, I would Highly Recommend it if not for the fact that the story stops in the middle, mandating another purchase. Of course I intend to make that purchase this summer. Stross certainly has the potential for more than a few books with this set-up and I hope he writes them. I will read them.

by Karin Lowachee
When I mentioned I had been reluctant to try Warchild last July, I did say that I would eagerly read the sequel. Burndive is that sequel, and Lowachee does not disappoint.
Rather than continuing the story of Jos directly, Lowachee switches us to a new character, Ryan Azarcon, the son of the captain of the Macedon. Lowachee makes Ryan somewhat unlikeable at the start–a nouveau riche spoiled brat who takes a lot of life lessons to buy a vowel. But he does learn better, despite his upbringing and his tendencies.
It turns out that there is something of his steel father in him, and we see Ryan grow as he goes from his home on Austro, to aboard the Captain’s ship. We meet Jos again, and Evan, and see what life on Macedon is like from a civilian perspective. Characterization of “Damaged goods” characters once again is Lowachee’s strong suit.
I highly recommend the book, but you really should read Warchild first.