Time’s Arrow: Red Handed by Jonathan Green

October 10, 2011

Man cannot exist on werewolf related literature alone so as a little break from Werewolf Appreciation Month this next review is a return to the steampunk lunacy of Pax Britannia.

Ulysses Quicksilver: agent of the throne, dandy and hero. Heart-broken, battered, mutilated and shot, he’s been driven backwards and forwards in time… but appearing in the middle of a crime scene is never the best way to start your visit to Paris… 

I make no secret about the fact that the on-going Pax Britannia series published by Abaddon Books is a personal favourite here at The Eloquent Page. I revelled in the first novel, Evolution Expects, and since then have avidly followed the steampunk flavoured exploits of the series titular hero, Ulysses Quicksilver. Recently the decision was made that the latest book in the series, Time’s Arrow, would allow for the literary equivalent of audience participation. Check out the official announcement from Jonathan Green’s blog below.

In the tradition of Charles Dickens himself, Abaddon Books will be publishing Time’s Arrow in three ebook instalments. At the end of parts one (‘Red-Handed’) and two (‘Black Swan’) readers will be able to vote on how the adventure progresses via the Abaddon Books website at www.abaddonbooks.com. The entire text will then be published in a paperback edition in 2012.

Red-Handed is available now and I downloaded episode one of Time’s Arrow this morning and read it over my lunch break. First impressions – I got exactly what I have come to expect from a Ulysses Quicksilver adventure. Lashings of derring-do, sprinkled with just the right amount of plot development to keep a reader hungry for more. You can’t go wrong with any story that features cybernetic gorillas, insect obsessed anarchists and a dashing leading man who still manages to make the ladies swoon even when he is ocularly challenged. Green has written Ulysses into some increasingly tough situations of late and it looks as though this trend has no end in sight. I really like the fact that the author doesn’t feel the urge to sugar coat things. His protagonist is consistently getting put through the emotional and physical ringer. It makes it that much easier to empathize with Quicksilver’s plight as he is thrown around in time and space.  I have to admit that all this non-stop action certainly does have a tendency to make one gasp or even take one’s breath away.

Once again Jonathan Green has written something that is, most importantly, great fun to read. From character names that will raise a smile to knowingly reverential nods to classical literature it is always a delight to see just what is going to happen next. I always come away from a Pax Britannia novel feeling thoroughly entertained.

I would offer one word of advice – if you have never experienced the Pax Britannia universe before –  check out the six books that have already been published first. Though Red-Handed is reasonably serviceable as a starting off point, the prologue may confuse the uninitiated a little, I guarantee that you will get so much more if you engage in the series as a whole.

Form a technical standpoint it feels like Pax Britannia has finally come home. Quicksilver’s adventures have always felt episodic in nature so it feels only natural to read them in this format. As eReaders are only going to continue to grow in popularity (I’ll be getting my hands on a Kindle Fire as soon as is humanly possible) it is great to see that publishers, like Abaddon Books, are taking these developments in technology into account when producing content. Kudos to Mr Green for his writing and the team at Abaddon for their tech wizardry. You all continue to do Mr U. Quicksilver Esq proud.

The second installment of Time’s Arrow, Black Swan, will be available soon and because I’ve purchased  Red Handed I’ll get to include my vote on what happens next!


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