Wednesday, May 31, 2017

SciFi/Fantasy Book Review: The Bloodline Feud by Charles Stross

Long Review after the Jump:

The Bloodline Feud is actually a revised omnibus version of the first two books in Charles Stross' Merchant Princes series.  It's apparently the definitive version of the stories, and the two books blend together well enough that I didn't really notice where book 1 would end and book 2 would begin, so it might as well be treated as the start of a trilogy.  That said, it could easily read as a stand alone if you don't want to go any further in the series (and I have not yet done so myself), as it doesn't end on a major cliffhanger.

-----------------------------------------Plot Summary-----------------------------------------
Miriam Beckstein was found with her mysteriously murdered mother and adopted when she was a baby.  Now she's a grown woman and a reporter for a financial newspaper....who just got fired when she stumbled onto a money laundering operation.  Looking for a next step, she comes home to her adopted mother, who gives her a mysterious locket found on her original mother's person.  But that locket is far from ordinary, and unlocks the ability for Miriam to travel to a parallel world, one which appears similar to the medieval era.

But what Miriam soon finds out is that her real family are genetically able to travel between these two worlds, and make fortunes as a mafia-like entity that smuggles drugs between worlds.  And well, a world-hopping drug-smuggling mafia family is as deadly as that sounds....especially when the family is organized in backwards medieval fashion.....oh and there's still somehow a conspiracy attempting to kill her.  Yeah, things are rough.  But Miriam's best weapon is still her brain and she might just be smart enough to get through this.....

The Thing that makes this book work so well is simple:  Miriam Beckstein is a terrific character.  There are several other solid characters but Miriam's tale is constantly told from her POV (with occasional slips into other characters' viewpoints to start chapters).  She's a Guile Hero through and through (although she'll use a gun as well), and her victories and battles are great to read through.

Really the only flaw in this book is that the romantic relationship Miriam finds herself in isn't really that believable to me - it happens really suddenly and I didn't buy it.  It's not a HUGE part of the book (the guy is often not around for long stretches of the book due to plot reasons), but it's a minor flaw.

Otherwise, well recommended. Unfortunately, my library lacks copies of the other two omnibus editions atm, so I'm not sure when I'll read the sequels, but I fully intend to.

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