It's OK, I guess, but it should be so much better. I enjoyed the hell out of ' ... Spring-heeled Jack' & had high hopes for a series beginning from there, but the second book (I don't even want to say it's name) was a dismal mess & this one is just a narrow notch above. A writer can shoot his whole wad in a single entry, leaving him to try way too hard to top himself or at least maintain momentum on an extended series while flogging to death a few ideas which, while alright in small doses, become distracting & even downright grating after a short while. The lamely cursing parakeet, the brass cockney philosopher, the endless parade of insect, plant, & now, of course, animal mutants, etc .... What's gone are the steampunk atmosphere & the overall sense of invention for any discernible purpose, as well as (worst of all) the chemistry & truly engaging nature of the main characters - replaced by a feeling of "So, what's next ...?" to be answered with a yawning roll of the eyes before slogging on to the next page. Alternate history can be a wonderful genre in the hands of a writer who can pace himself & make the changes make sense, but different for different's sake does not an interesting world make. It's so very unfortunate that the great ideas which kicked off this series had to devolve into a bland combination of the (lousy) film 'Frankenstein's Army' & just some more of the limp, overly campy & repetitive writing that seems to be overtaking steampunk in the last few years. I may look at the rest of the 'Burton & Swinburne' stories later on, in hopes of a return to the work of the first book, but I'll get them from the library before buying again as these last two went right into the Goodwill bin, leaving ' ...Spring-heeled Jack' all by himself (of these books) on my permanent shelf.
In this third installment of the Burton and Swinburne steampunk/alternate history adventures, we follow two timelines of Burton. One, in his present as he sets forth to find the African Diamond, and two, when he finds himself transported in time to the Great War.
This is an ambitious plot, but Hodder pulls it off well, bringing both timelines together nicely, then adding one of his breath-taking twists to leave the reader gasping at the end. As in the first two novels, this world is amazingly detailed, and the technology, science, and literature imagined by Hodder is perfectly believable. The characters are well-fleshed, the plot gripping, and the overall story a fascinating read.
This book is very much tied to the previous two -- I don't see how it can be read independently, quite frankly. Themes that were raised in the first two books and characters that were introduced in the first two books all appear in this concluding edition. At one point, it seems that 90% of the characters over the last two books, in fact, are passengers on a massive aircraft! It's a great read, and Hodder has no qualms of showing how problems that began to arise in the first book have exploded into pure insanity, both in London and in Africa. I very much enjoyed the cast of characters and zany situations that Hodder created over the years, and I secretly always hoped that Burton would find himself heading over to America to participate in the Civil War/Post-Civil War years. Still, if this is how it is to end -- it's worthy ending to a great trilogy. Thank you Mr. Hodder. I'll be recommending it to all my friends who enjoy Steampunk!
Mark Hodder always gives you your moneys worth. A splendid story teller with a more than a vivid imagination he blends both in this tale that spans multiple continents and time lines. While the steampunk genre is the palette he paints the story on he also takes on world politics, religious and spiritual dogma.
The Kings agent Burton has been given the assignment to secure the last Naga black diamond to ensure England's grip on the world remains in tact. However the Germans and the Prussians have other ideas and will use whatever forces they can to stop Burton from attaining his assignment.
Carefully drawn characters, a compelling storyline and that more than viovid imagination creates a must read book. Part of the Burton & Swinburne series this book carries on the tradition of the previous books in the series. ALL are HIGHLY RECOMMENDED
When I get a book series that I really enjoy I try to slow down to enjoy each book as I go. Often times, I may read a book not with the series to stretch out the joy of a great series. Then there times where the books are so good that savoring be damned! I've got to know what happens next!! Mark Hodder's Burton & Swindburne series is one of those series where I can't read them fast enough. Good Stuff. Well written, great characters, well thought out plot. I have never read any 'steampunk' type books before and picked the first book in this series as a jumping off point. So glad I did!
A good ripping yarn, full of delicious twists on history. Hodder must be quite a fan of Sir Richard Burton and his times because he seems to have his essential (and then some) facts in a row, and he works them seamless into a grand tale of adventure in the Steampunk tradition. It's a good reason to pray for weekend rain . . .
If you've read the two previous books "Strange Affair of Spring Heeled Jack" and "Curious Case of the Clockwork Man" you'll be better placed to follow Mark Hodders theories of time travel, which are different and mind bending. Burton is assigned to find the missing black diamond, one of the three "Eyes of Naga" by Prime Minister Palmerston. This will also mean a second chance to find the source of the Nile, by returning to the Mountains of the Moon. It becomes a race across Africa, between Burtons party and the rival expedition of traitor John Speke, now working for the German Empire. The story takes Burton away from the Victoriana/steampunk world of an alternate London, that we've become used to in the previous books. Most of the action takes place in Africa, which some may find outside their expectations. There are those who've critized the ending, I found the ending fraught with possible conclusions and logically therefore a fourth book - can't wait!