Anno Frankenstein by Jonathan Green

May 20, 2011

Ulysses Quicksilver, agent of the crown, jumps into a time vortex pursuing Daniel Dashwood, a madman bent on sharing modern technology with Hitler’s forces and changing history to suit his evil ends. Rewind several decades, to the time of the Second Great War, to Darmstadt. The Nazis are battling the steampunk empire of Magna Britannia, cooking up necrotic super solider in the gothic towers of Castle Frankenstein.

In the forests outside the castle, other forces are gathering. Ulysses’ father is there, proving that dashing good looks and a talent for swashbuckling adventures run in the family, and wondering why his British masters have partnered him with the weakling scientist Dr. Jekyll. The ladies of the Monstrous Regiment as also there to help, but there may be other gothic monsters in the hills…

Those of you that have been following The Eloquent Page for a while are no doubt already aware that there is much love in this corner of the Internet for the Pax Britannia novels written by Jonathan Green. Each new installment is highly anticipated and has always delivered the very best in steampunk flavoured adventure. I was keen to pick up from the cliffhanger that occurred at the end of the last novel, Dark Side.

I always hope that a Ulysses Quicksilver novel will be a frenetic action packed affair. The good news is that this latest chapter certainly delivers. There are chases and fights galore all wrapped up in the outlandish sights and sounds of the Pax Britannia universe. From the outset we have everything from zeppelin crashes, Russian vampires agents, philosophical lab made men to steam-powered robot pachyderms.

In this novel our regular hero takes a bit of a back seat in favour of another member of the Quicksilver clan, his father Hercules. The old adage ‘like father’ like son’ certainly seems to hold true. The story takes place when Hercules is in his prime, and we find that he is just as much the gentleman dandy/adventurer as his son becomes. Ulysses isn’t actually seen in the first half of the book but that makes his arrival all the more memorable when he does finally appear.

The other characters are all great fun. The heroic women of the Monstrous Regiment inject a strong female presence, while Dr Jekyll’s alter ego is an unexpected hero. The villains, a role call of suitably menacing Nazis and Gestapo types, are all larger than life but hey… this is Pax Britannia and I would expect nothing less.

I have to admit that I am always a little wary of the use of time travel in novels as I think there is a potential to lose track of the plot if things get over complicated. Fortunately, in this case everything is kept nice and simple and the events in this novel fit seamlessly into the existing time line created in previous installments.

Green’s enthusiasm for the subject matter is evident on every page, you can tell that he has a blast writing these novels. The cheeky blighter delights in sprinkling his text with geeky science fiction references, and if you are anything like me you’ll spot them. On more than one occasion I found myself doing a double-take, and then checking Google to confirm my suspicions about a chapter name or the description of a item.

As a final thought, I have been pondering the best way to prepare one’s self for reading Anno Frankenstein.  I believe there are three key tasks you have to accomplish before you begin the novel.

  1. Listen to the theme to The Dam Busters at a high volume.
  2. Watch Where Eagles Dare, starring Richard Burton and Clint Eastwood.
  3. Play the first person shooter computer game Return to Castle Wolfenstein to completion.

Once you have completed these three tasks you will find yourself far more receptive to the Ulysses Quicksilver’s particular brand of derring-do. I can guarantee that they will enhance your enjoyment of what is already a hugely enjoyable read.



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