In 1929 archeologists began draining Lake Nemi in search of the mysterious ships that have been glimpsed beneath its waters since the reign of Claudius. What they awakened had been drowned for two thousand years. For a very good reason.
Veteran aviator Lewis Segura has been drifting since the Great War ended, fetched up at last at the small company run by fellow veterans and pilots Alma Gilchrist and Mitchell Sorley, assisted by their old friend Dr. Jerry Ballard, an archeologist who lost his career when he lost part of his leg. It's a living, and if it's not quite what any of them had dreamed of, it's better than much that they've already survived. But Lewis has always dreamed true, and what he sees in his dreams will take them on a dangerous chase from Hollywood to New York to an airship over the Atlantic, and finally to the Groves of Diana Herself….
The world is full of lost treasures. Some of them are better off not found.
©2012 Melissa Scott & Jo Wyrick (P)2012 David N. Wilson
I like mysteries (particularly British ones, historical fiction and nonfiction, science fiction and fantasy.
I've read Melissa Scott's science fiction since she hit the bookstores in the 80's. She managed complex and satisfying world building combined with characters that were both alien and easy to relate to. Jo Graham is not an author that I have encountered before but now I intend to check out her backlist.
Anyway, when I saw this book listed on Audible I seized on it at once, and I am very happy I did.
Not science fiction but historical fantasy, the background of the story is the final year of the 20's. The adventure starts with an archaeological dig in Italy. The archaeological dig is real enough, as are the ships built by Caligula and then sunk in the lake after his assassination. Add to this the release of an ancient malignant being with the attempt to recover the ships and there is the satisfying bones of a good story there.
Alma, Jerry, and Mitchell are all members of a Hermetic Lodge. Jerry and Mitchell are combat veterans of the Great War. Alma was an ambulance driver and the widow of their friend and Magister, Gil, who died of the effects of mustard gas after the war. Each of them have lost something. Early in the book they are joined by Lewis Segura, another veteran pilot who becomes Alma's lover and employee as they struggle to come to terms with their losses and rebuild their lives, mundate and magical.
This story feels true to the time. The details about flying and the attempt to commercialize add to the story. A good part of the US is covered from Colorado to Hollywood to Chicago with period detail highlighting, but not overwhelming the plot and characters.
John Lee, the narrator does a great job. His general narration accent is American with a 1920's feel to it but he voices the characters with their various backgrounds well. Even when reading ritual magic he does not go overboard.
There's another book in this series on the way: Steel Blues. I'm looking forward to the Audible version.
I was thrilled to see a new Melissa Scott book out and ordered it immediately. I had a hard time getting through the story. The premise is good: a lodge of magicians in 1929 needs to stop an evil spirit. Historical detail seems okay and the story takes includes a lot of stuff about the old airplanes, which I have an interest in. The plot follows a decent arc to a tense confrontation and has enough action throughout the story to keep things moving.
My problem is with the characters. There are four protagonists. The point of view switches between them, but there's little to differentiate the voices, let alone the characters. It's as if we have one person broken into separate pieces and whomever is convenient comes to the front. That makes the story flat.
The narration is adequate, but to carry the book it needed to differentiate the characters more. That wasn't there. The narrator doesn't do accents well and there is no different pacing for the different voices. Also, he would at times get into repetitive lilts when the sentences were of equal lengths. I blame this more on the writing than the narrator. Still, it was at times an intrusion into the story.
Reader, reviewer, blogger
I didn't enjoy the story enough to recommend it.
They did a fine job given the material they had to work with. Ms. Scott's voice was somewhat subdued, which made the tale even less interesting.
I didn't like any of them, actually.
Yes, find another book.
I love the storytelling quality of John Lee's narration. He has the perfect tone to carry a story forward and draw me in.
Louis, because of all the challenges he faced, and the way he stepped up and overcame adversity.
I love the big chase / fight on the airship. It's well written, and brings that very unique setting to brilliant life.
Just enjoyed it thoroughly and looking forward to the next adventure for this crew.
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