Book Reviews 2006 (25)

The twenty fifth book of the year is my fourth Charles Stross book, and the third in the “Family Trade” series, The Clan Corporate.

The Clan Corporate : Book Three of The Merchant Princes (Merchant Princes)
by Charles Stross
The third book in the series feels like a setup book, and definitely is not a stand alone novel, looking forward and looking backward. Thus, it is an incomplete episode in the continuing adventures of Miriam Beckstein, aka Countess Helge, World Walker in the Clan, that group of families who, in a world next door, found a way to walk from their primitive world, to ours, and found ways to make it profitable. Very profitable.
In this book, while Stross does not offer us any new worlds beyond the three of Earth-Modern, Earth-Clan, and Earth-New London, he does involve the nobility of the Clan’s Earth in a front and center way. While the Clan, with the wealth and power of their world walking are a powerful force in this world, we learn in this novel that they are not the only force. It is something that the readers probably have not considered before now, and certainly, Miriam learns that she didn’t either. Miriam in this novel feels much less like an active protagonist, hemmed in by forces that she does not understand. On the other hand, we get a classic case of coinky-dink in the form of DEA agent Mike, who just so happens to be a former flame of Miriam, and just so happens to get wrapped up in our Earth’s intelligence community’s investigation of the Clan.
While the book is a setup book and thus is incomplete, I did highly enjoy it. It even helped inform and educate one of my responses to a recent game post, as regards the role of women in feudal societies. Stross has done his homework, on all levels. I can completely believe the Intelligence agencies reaction to the discovery of what the Clan is, and what they can do, just to name one example.
It’s not a perfect book, and I certainly wouldn’t *start* here, but readers who enjoyed the previous two volumes of the Family Trade will be pleased with this third volume and salivate for more.