Hodder’s fourth Burton and Swinburne steampunk adventure is set in an imaginative alternate 1859, but mediocre characterization and historical name-dropping are all that pass for plot development. Legendary explorer Sir Richard Francis Burton is returning home from adventures abroad when one of his shipboard companions is murdered in a bizarre ritual. As several notable figures go missing, including Florence Nightingale and Charles Babbage, Sir Richard is appointed as a king’s agent and instructed to find the missing Abdu El Yezdi, a ghost who has been guiding England’s political and technological progress in an age of traveling steam spheres and cloning. Sir Richard’s stumbling investigation mostly reads as an excuse to run into an encyclopedic list of late-19th-century English luminaries, and the ultimate reveal of the confusing time-twisting plot makes his cluelessness rather unlikely. Intricate worldbuilding is marred by Orientalism as Sir Richard’s firm belief in British superiority colors his knowledge of other lands. (July)
Reviewed on: 05/27/2013 Release date: 07/01/2013 Genre: Fiction
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