Customer Reviews for

The Revolution Business (Merchant Princes Series #5)

Average Rating 3.5
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  • Posted July 7, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Stross admirably continues his Merchant Prince Series

    The Merchant Prince series, about Miriam Beckstein, is the series that got me into the works of Charles Stross.

    The Revolution Business is the fifth in this series. It follows off of the explosive ending to the fourth novel, where the machinations of several parties, ranging from the Clan to the U.S. Government, to the political enemies of the Clan in the Gruinmarkt, all fall against each other, inadvertently messing up each other.

    Even more important is Miriam, our central character. In the novel, she quickly finds herself thrust into politics of the Family in a way that she could not imagine even in previous novels. Her previous efforts are nothing compared to the cut and thrust of politics now, in the wake of the deadly politics in the Gruinmarkt. And then there is the technological breakthrough of the US Government in terms of worldwalking, and the Clan's very personal approach to their feud with the US Government...

    About the only fault I have in the novel is that we don't get enough of the third world, the New Britain world. It suffers a bit in comparison to events in our world and the Gruinmarkt. With that aside, though, this novel continues to build on the previous four novels of the series. Stross has managed this series, its worlds and assumptions, with enviable and undeniable skill. His skill in developing believable and complex characters, having them grow and change (and in some instances, kill them off) is admirable.

    There is one more novel planned in the sequence, and Stross ends this book with an explosive cliffhanger that will make you want to read the sixth book all the more. I know that I certainly do!

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  • Posted May 27, 2009

    A Jumble to Read

    I've read the other four books in this series and generally enjoyed them, although I felt the last two, especially The Merchant's War, went off in too many directions at once. Unfortunately, The Revolution Business continues that regrettable trend by becoming even more convoluted. Most of the characters, even Miriam (the protagonist) to some extent, appear as little more than snippets and the tale jumps around so much that it's very difficult to keep track of where you are in the story line.

    Additionally, certain plot lines simply end in medias res. We started this one somewhat after the coup of the usurper king and all of a sudden we find that his army is obliterated in about two seconds. It's almost as if Stross couldn't figure out where it was going, or decided it was now a distraction, ended it and said to himself, "I guess that solved that problem; let's now focus on something else."

    The other annoying thing is Stross' constant allusion to the (obviously disliked by him) American president and vice president. His barely-veiled comparisons to Dick Cheney and George Bush detract from what would otherwise be an interesting exposition of the dynamic of a government faced with something it mistrusts and fears mostly because it neither understands nor controls it. To me it was a distraction and I kept mumbling things like, "Give it a break," "For god's sake, they're not even in office any more," and "Enough with the personal opinions already."

    What started out as a really creative concept with some potentially very interesting characters is not living up to its potential. While I wish him well, Stross needs to tighten things up, regain his focus and show us more of what we saw in the first couple of volumes. For $24.95 list that's the least one should expect.

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  • Posted April 17, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    The latest Merchant Princes fantasy-science fiction tale is exciting and action-packed

    The Clan Corporate believes they are invincible in spite of growing evidence that rebel activity from within their feudal system is growing rapidly. They base their logic on their magical ability to cross into parallel worlds like that of an advanced earth; as with the internal threat, the Clan fails to understand that the scientific based world knows of their cross dimensional ventures and have labeled the Clan a terrorist group by the USA. ---------------

    At the same time the Clan fails to read the facts, Boston reporter Miriam Beckstein has been freed from jail, but is pregnant and remains at the crosshairs of political rivals on two worlds who either want her dead or incarcerated. She becomes front and center on the American terrorist list when apparently world crossers steal nuclear weapons from the United States at the same time American engineering and science is close to finding a way to cross over to the Clan dominated world.-------------

    The latest Merchant Princes fantasy-science fiction tale(see THE MERCHANTS' WAR) is exciting and action-packed as political intrigue on two worlds makes for an interesting read filled with twists and betrayals. Miriam is terrific as she goes from the frying pan to the nuclear fire while somewhat serving as the closest character to a lead protagonist; with people moving in and people moving out, the temptation is to assume no star exists with the story line to some extent overwhelmed by the masses. Still this is an entertaining entry that sets the table for what appears to be coming: when worlds collide.---------

    Harriet Klausner

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