Review: The Great Game / Author: Lavie Tidhar / Publisher: Angry Robot / Release date: February 2nd
There are generally two ways authors seem to approach the genre of Steampunk; they either glue some cogs on an existing idea, wedge it into the appropriate period of history and declare that it fits or they actually treat the wealth of creative work that came from the Victorian era with a degree of love and respect, generally creating some marvellous flight of fantasy.
Lavie Tidhar’s Bookman Chronicles do the latter, and are all the better for it. They are what steampunk should be; delicious and wild tales of what if. Tidhar has taken the Victorian world and picked it apart, extracting only the most interesting elements and then rewoven the entire history into something new and interesting. The latest book in the series The Great Game is an especially fine example, Zeppelins dot the sky, monsters created out of stitched together corpses roam the mountainside and three legged war machines stalk the land.
The Great Game is set in a world where The Empire is ran by “Les Lezards”, a race of reptilian aliens, and Van Helsing rubs shoulders with the likes of Irene Adler and Sitting Bull. Tidhar’s style is tight, clever and witty. This is very much a spy thriller; various characters chase around the world looking for some sort of ultimate weapon. Like most good thrillers, the details of the weapon, though interesting, are not the focus of the tale, this is a novel that’s carried forward by the depth of detail and intrigue.
The Great Game is a very fine addition to the series, and can be enjoyed without having read the others, though you owe it to yourself to read the entire series if well detailed alternate history science fiction is your sort of thing.
Steampunk fans will love this, and are probably already familiar with Tidhar’s work. Those looking to get into Steampunk may also wish to check out the entire series.