BOOK REVIEW: Time’s Arrow: Black Swan by Jonathan Green

In 1988 Sylvester McCoy hosted a programme on Children’s BBC called What’s Your Story. For those not old enough to remember, the premise was that you watched a story unfold before you and, when the cliffhanger came at the end, you phoned in with your choice of where the story went next. A great interactive approach and one which Jonathan Green, author of the Pax Britania series, is adopting himself.

The Time’s Arrow trilogy, published by Abaddon Books, reunites us with one of Green’s standout characters in Ulysses Quicksilver, general dandy and all round hero. Released as e-books, this steam punk trilogy allows the reader to vote to decide the direction of the story which is a great way to engage with your readership. Part one and two are out now. Read on for Geek Syndicate’s review of part two, Black Swan.

Black Swan follows on from where part one, Red-handed, left off with Ulysses Quicksilver in the Parisian apartments of Monsieur Lumiere as he hunts the killer involved with the Rue Morgue murders. A number of

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prominent individuals have prematurely shuffled their mortal coil and Quicksilver, prime suspect of the local gendarmes, is out to clear his name and bring the real killer to justice.

The story rattles on at a fair pace with little time to draw your breath between the action. Rampaging gorillas, mechanical parrots, steam-powered flying bicycles and damsels firmly in command all play

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their part with a sinister villain plotting worldwide destruction all in the heart ofParis. Gaston Leroux, Conan Doyle and Poe are all paid homage to, amongst others, as we are drawn excitedly towards the cliffhanger ending in readiness for part three.

I have to admit to not having read Red-handed in advance of this, possibly not the wisest of things when tackling a series but such is the life of a reviewer, so was worried I might be slightly lost starting with book two. However, having previously read Green’s Evolution Expects, well worth a read by the way, I was well acquainted with Mr Quicksilver and found the writing dropped enough previous plot points into the narrative to allow me to catch up quickly.

Black Swan is a fun story, one which engages you from the off, and you can tell that Green is enjoying his writing. Quicksilver, agent for the British government, is a fantastic character, full of dare-doing, and carries the day with an air of optimism and a stiff upper lip throughout; think James Bond as a Victorian toff. The villains are painted equally well and are just on the right side of moustache twirling dastardliness without being corny.

There are some parts of the story where the escapes

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are fortuitous and far fetched but, hey, that’s all part of the playfulness of the writing. Go into this with a complete suspension of disbelief

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and you’ll come out smiling at the other end.

I really enjoyed this and would recommend that you pick it up but possibly start with book one like a sane person would do!

Voting for where part three, White Noise, heads closes on Friday 15 June. To influence where the story goes next visit but obviously after you’ve read the book which is available for download now.

Rating: 4.5/5
Reporter: Phil Ambler

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