BOOK REVIEW: The Great Game by Lavie Tidhar

When Mycroft Holmes is Murdered in London, it is up to retired shadow executive Smith to track down his killer – and stumble on the greatest conspiracy of his life.


The third instalment of The Bookman Histories novels by Lavie Tidhar that started with The Bookman in 2010, then Camera Obscura in 2011 and this year we got The Great Game.

When Mycroft Holmes is Murdered in London, it is up to retired shadow executive Smith to track down his killer – and stumble on the greatest conspiracy of his life.
Strange forces are stirring into life around the globe, and in the shadow game of spies nothing is certain. Fresh from liberating a strange alien object in Abyssinia – which might just be the mythical Ark of the Covenant – young Lucy Westerna, Holmes’ protégé, must follow her own path to the truth while, on the other side of the world, a young Harry Houdini must face his greatest feat of escape – death itself.
As their paths converge the body count mounts up, the entire world is under threat, and in a foreboding castle in the mountains of Transylvania a mysterious old man weaves a spider’s web of secrets and lies.
Airship battles, Frankenstein monsters, alien tripods and death-defying acts: The Great Game is a cranked-up steampunk thriller in which nothing is certain – not even death.

Imagine a world at the turn of the last century, where all the great literary heroes are gathered together with one purpose, to play the game of diplomacy, spy craft and world domination for their countries.  Now breathe a sigh of relief, because you don’t have to.
In The Great Game, Lavie Tidhar has created an epic tale combining the likes of Mycroft Holmes and his brother, along with Van Helsing, Fogg, Lord Byron, Babbage, Frankenstein, Houdini, Smith, and so many other great literary heroes, along with extraterrestrial lizards who either rule, or have ruled, many of the great European powers.  Add in steam powered mechanical thinking machines for spice, a human copying alien machine, human/machine built cyborgs and you have a brilliant setting for the Great Game to be played and the Game is well played.

There are not many books I have trouble putting down, and I must admit this was one of them.  I started one evening and finished in the small hours of the morning, unable to fall asleep until I finished it.  Well written, fast paced, with reasoned plot twists that take you by surprise, a recommended read for alternative history fans who like a twist.

GS Rating 5/5

THE GREAT GAME
Lavie Tidhar
Steampunk/fantasy
Cover: David Frankland at Artist Partners

UK/RoW
2 February 2012
416pp B-format paperback
£7.99 UK
ISBN 9780857661982

US/CAN
31 January 2012
416pp mass-market paperback
$7.99 US / $8.99 CAN
ISBN 9780857661999

eBook
31 January 2012
price £4.49
ePub ISBN 9780857662002

Source: Angry Robot
GS Reporter: Whatotherway, Montoya

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