Books shelved under “Alternate History”

76 reviews found

  1. Book cover for The Relentless Moon

    The Relentless Moon

    by Mary Robinette Kowal

    4 out of 5 stars

    Reviewed

    I didn’t realize until I started reading that The Relentless Moon, while technically a sequel to The Fated Sky, is more of a spin-off in the series. Mary Robinette Kowal writes from the perspective of Nicole Wargin, a white woman who was a side character in the first two books. She is one of the original astronauts (or astronette, ugh) alongside Elma York, the Lady Astronaut and narrator of the first two books,…

  2. Book cover for League of Dragons

    League of Dragons

    by Naomi Novik

    3 out of 5 stars

    Reviewed

    So here we are, over 2 years after I read Blood of Tyrants: the last Temeraire novel!

    It’s times like these I always want to take a deep breath before I dive into writing this review.

    Let’s get the verdict out of the way: League of Dragons is a good conclusion to the series, but it is not without its strange elisions. Naomi Novik proves up to the task of wrapping up her sprawling…

  3. Book cover for The Fated Sky

    The Fated Sky

    by Mary Robinette Kowal

    5 out of 5 stars

    Reviewed

    If it feels like just yesterday that I read The Calculating Stars, that’s because it practically was! I seldom read sequels so close together, but once in a while I manage to buy them at the same time. In this case, I rushed out and bought The Fated Sky the weekend after I finished the first book and very deliberately made this my first book of 2019—I like to start my reading year off…

  4. Book cover for The Calculating Stars

    The Calculating Stars

    by Mary Robinette Kowal

    5 out of 5 stars

    Reviewed

    How much did I love The Calculating Stars? When I picked this up at Chapters, I didn’t realize that its sequel was already out! So when I finished this on the evening of December 28, I was very tempted to rush out and buy that sequel right away. But Chapters was closing in 20 minutes, so I waited until the next day, and then I bought The Fated Sky with the intention of…

  5. Book cover for My Real Children

    My Real Children

    by Jo Walton

    5 out of 5 stars

    Reviewed

    OH. MY. GOD. WHY DID NONE OF YOU MAKE ME READ THIS BOOK SOONER???

    I’ve previously read two of Jo Walton’s books. The first, Among Others, was a Hugo-nominated, Nebula-winning novel that I enjoyed but didn’t love. The second, Tooth and Claw, was a more straightforward story which was basically “what if Regency England was intelligent dragons” and, as such, was a delightfully clever romp of a book. My Real Children is a

  6. Book cover for And I Darken

    And I Darken

    by Kiersten White

    3 out of 5 stars

    Reviewed

    So I read this book nearly a month ago but am only now getting around to writing a review, because I have literally spent all my free time knitting a SEKRIT PROJECT because I want to give it to my friend Amanda, who has been away and out of contact for a month. Project is almost done, and so now I can resume my regular reading and reviewing, just in time for summer! However, my…

  7. Book cover for Blood of Tyrants

    Blood of Tyrants

    by Naomi Novik

    3 out of 5 stars

    Reviewed

    I’ve finally figured it out: this is a buddy cop story.

    Wait wait wait wait wait—it makes total sense! Think about it. Laurence is the by-the-book, hardnosed detective who has been on the job for years when, one day, out of the blue, this smartass rookie with a talent for learning languages and blowing hot air waltzes into his life. The two become partners and start working cases together, and Temeraire keeps getting Laurence in…

  8. Book cover for Crucible of Gold

    Crucible of Gold

    by Naomi Novik

    3 out of 5 stars

    Reviewed

    After over a year, I stumbled across the last three Temeraire books while browsing Chapters and realized the time has come to pick up this series and put it to rest. Crucible of Gold, the seventh instalment in these adventures, sees Laurence and Temeraire reinstated in the Aerial Corps for an urgent mission to Brazil. Napoleon has a shaky alliance with the Tswana, and they are raiding the Portuguese colonies there for their enslaved…

  9. Book cover for A Criminal Magic

    A Criminal Magic

    by Lee Kelly

    4 out of 5 stars

    Reviewed

    A Criminal Magic hooked me from the start. A friend gave this to me for my birthday (apparently it was on my to-read list, not that I’d remember). I started it on Saturday, and 25 pages in I texted her to let her know she had picked well. Lee Kelly’s story of sorcerers labouring under a magic Prohibition in an alternative 1926 is just captivating. From parallel plot-lines to a careful, judicious use of magic,…

  10. Book cover for Sorcerer to the Crown

    Sorcerer to the Crown

    by Zen Cho

    3 out of 5 stars

    Reviewed

    It always tickles me when people criticize progressive portrayals of social justice in historical settings as being “unrealistic” even when those books have magic in them. Leaving aside the fact that there have always been radicals in every era, if you can stomach sorcerers and fae in your story, you should be able to accept that some men in Georgian England might want women to be educated.

    I’ve had an ebook of Sorcerer to the

  11. Book cover for Behemoth

    Behemoth

    by Scott Westerfeld

    4 out of 5 stars

    Reviewed

    My one-sentence review might be: if you liked Leviathan, then you’ll like Behemoth. It’s a worthy sequel that notably doesn’t suffer from the dreaded “middle book syndrome” of a trilogy. Once again Scott Westerfeld plays fast and loose with the events leading up to World War I, and it pays off with an intense story in which our two protagonists have to decide what to prioritize: their duties, or their friendship. It’s the…

  12. Book cover for The Kiss of Deception

    The Kiss of Deception

    by Mary E. Pearson

    1 out of 5 stars

    Reviewed

    Occasionally I link to other reviews when I think they make a salient point that complements or contrasts nicely with mine. In this case I’m going to link to Khanh’s review of this book, because it is simply one of the best reviews ever. I laughed out loud reading this, and I liked it better than the book. That is my review of the review.

    On to reviewing The Kiss of Deception,…

  13. Book cover for Tongues of Serpents

    Tongues of Serpents

    by Naomi Novik

    2 out of 5 stars

    Reviewed

    I have been remiss in my Temeraire reading. I am way behind now, and with the series ending, it is time to catch up. (I say this, but I don’t actually own the next books and have no intention of buying them in the near future, because I have a ton of other stuff to catch up on. Hah. We’ll see how that goes.) Naomi Novik has always managed to keep the series fresh by…

  14. Book cover for Nation

    Nation

    by Terry Pratchett

    4 out of 5 stars

    Reviewed

    For a while I did not like this book. In fact, I was downright worried: was I really going to pan a Terry Pratchett book? Inconceivable! So I let out a sharp breath of relief when everything suddenly clicked and fell into place. Nation is a fun yet sensitive tale, full of Pratchett’s signature wit. I mean, how can you not enjoy exchanges like this?

    “The thing about the trousermen is, they are very brave

  15. Book cover for The Eyre Affair

    The Eyre Affair

    by Jasper Fforde

    2 out of 5 stars

    Reviewed

    So many friend reviews of this book—and so many opinions! It seems that The Eyre Affair is one of those books that some people love on first sight and others find incredibly tedious, confusing, or just unbelievable. I see elements of both, and so, more often than I would like, I find myself on the fence with these polarizing reads. It’s not a position I see as superior—if anything it smacks of indecision to me.…

  16. Book cover for The Age Atomic

    The Age Atomic

    by Adam Christopher

    2 out of 5 stars

    Reviewed

    I am so behind on my Angry Robot subscription. It’s bad, guys. I read Empire State 3 years ago, and The Age Atomic came out half a year later. I barely remember the first book—no, that’s a lie; I had entirely forgotten the first book. I remembered exactly none of the characters when Adam Christopher reintroduced them here. But the vague memories that I stir up from reading my review suggest that these two books…

  17. Book cover for The Light Ages

    The Light Ages

    by Ian R. MacLeod

    Unrated

    Reviewed

    It’s a shame. I really enjoyed Journeys, but my first attempt at novel-length Ian R. MacLeod falls short.

    The Light Ages takes place in an alternative England where the ability to manipulate aether has jumpstarted steam engine technology somewhat. Other technologies, like electricity, have fallen by the wayside as too unreliable. The result is a grittier, dirtier, more magical and more chaotic industrialized England.

    My problems stem from the writing style. MacLeod doesn’t value…

  18. Book cover for Victory of Eagles

    Victory of Eagles

    by Naomi Novik

    4 out of 5 stars

    Reviewed

    Second review: September 7, 2015

    Not going to write a lot here, because I covered most of it in my review of 4 years ago, below.

    Victory of Eagles is a lot of fun because Temeraire takes it into his head to form his own little dragon corps and even request a rank. That’s cool for many reasons. First, he wrests some acknowledgement of dragon sapience from Government. Second, Temeraire discovers that having rank is…

  19. Book cover for Karen Memory

    Karen Memory

    by Elizabeth Bear

    3 out of 5 stars

    Reviewed

    I would be lying if I said I read this book for reasons other than a) it's by Elizabeth Bear and b) it's received some good attention, particularly in a few of my Goodreads groups. I know this because I struggle to find something compelling to talk about in this review. There's not really one thing that hooks me about this book. It's not a time period I'm interested in. The whole "wild West" motif…

  20. Book cover for Leviathan

    Leviathan

    by Scott Westerfeld

    3 out of 5 stars

    Reviewed

    World War I is not the sexier World War. The technology isn’t advanced; it didn’t end with a noisy double atomic bang; and it lacks the grandiose operatic tragedy of the Holocaust to offer a thematic background. Indeed, the political quagmire of nationalism and militarism that precipitated and fuelled the Great War might be interesting to historians, but to bored schoolkids, it just prompted us to wonder what we had done so wrong to deserve…

  21. Book cover for The Bookman

    The Bookman

    by Lavie Tidhar

    3 out of 5 stars

    Reviewed

    I’m hesitant about proclaiming love for historical fiction. To me it’s just a genre that can be so hard to get right. Take too many liberties, and it’s not really historical any more, is it? But don’t take enough liberties, try to follow the actual course of history (as best we know it) too slavishly, and then it’s not really fiction…. The best historical fiction is the kind that follows the main narrative but tries…

  22. Book cover for The Diamond Conspiracy

    The Diamond Conspiracy

    by Pip Ballantine

    4 out of 5 stars

    Reviewed

    I discovered this on my library’s new paperbacks shelf last week and literally squealed aloud. I have a warped perspective of this series’ publication structure because I’ve read the first three books in short succession to get caught up, so I had forgotten The Diamond Conspiracy was coming out so “soon” after I read Dawn’s Early Light.

    A lot was riding on this book. With the disavowal of the Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences at…

  23. Book cover for Empire of Ivory

    Empire of Ivory

    by Naomi Novik

    3 out of 5 stars

    Reviewed

    Most of my first review of Empire of Ivory stands, so rather than rehash that, I’ll just comment on where my opinion has changed or things I noticed that I didn’t mention in the first review.

    I’ve mentioned this in previous reviews, but Laurence is just such a delightful character. I think we’ve gotten used to seeing caricatures of women from the turn of the nineteenth century simply based on Jane Austen’s celebrity. It’s refreshing…

  24. Book cover for Changeless

    Changeless

    by Gail Carriger

    3 out of 5 stars

    Reviewed

    Right, so you don’t have a soul, which means any supernatural creature you touch turns back into a mortal. Handy, but also it makes you a kind of threat to the supernatural community. Queen Victoria makes you muhjah, which is a fancy term for “I have a bureaucratic position as well as target painted on my back.” And you marry a werewolf member of the peerage. Who is Scottish. Then, suddenly, a phenomenon that replicates…

  25. Book cover for Black Powder War

    Black Powder War

    by Naomi Novik

    3 out of 5 stars

    Reviewed

    I’m enjoying my re-read of the Temeraire series, as I work to get caught up to the most recent volumes. It’s interesting to see how my opinions have changed since my first reading. As with the previous book, Throne of Jade, I have reduced my rating for Black Powder War. Maybe I’ve grown harsher in my old age. Maybe I was just caught up in enthusiasm for dragons the first time I read

  26. Book cover for Darwinia

    Darwinia

    by Robert Charles Wilson

    2 out of 5 stars

    Reviewed

    That spoiler warning is live, people. I am not joking around here. I am going to talk about the twist that, though fairly early in the book, is unmentioned or unhinted at in any of the cover copy or introduction. Because Darwinia is a far deeper rabbithole than its simple alternative-history wrapper promises. I understand why it got the Hugo nomination (and also why it didn’t win). With Darwinia, Robert Charles Wilson has…

  27. Book cover for Dawn's Early Light

    Dawn's Early Light

    by Pip Ballantine

    3 out of 5 stars

    Reviewed

    Every ongoing but somewhat formulaic series has its tipping point, that moment where the overall story arc and mythos of the series’ world begins to subsume the individual plots of each book. For The Dresden Files it was Summer Knight, the fourth book, which adds faeries to the Dresdenverse. For the Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences, that tipping point is here, with Dawn’s Early Light.

    On the surface, there is little to make

  28. Book cover for Throne of Jade

    Throne of Jade

    by Naomi Novik

    3 out of 5 stars

    Reviewed

    I started re-reading the entire Temeraire series recently. I didn’t post a new review of His Majesty’s Dragon, because I felt my original review said everything that needed to be said. Throne of Jade, however, has been lingering on my to-reread shelf for years, a somewhat hyperbolic five stars attached to it, no explanation. So it’s only fair I give it a review it deserves. Yes, I’ve downgraded it to a satisfactory three stars.

  29. Book cover for The Janus Affair

    The Janus Affair

    by Pip Ballantine

    3 out of 5 stars

    Reviewed

    Agents Books and Braun are back. Aftering solving their case in Phoenix Rising in their “off hours”, the unlikely duo get involved in a new rash of abductions of suffragists from around London. These abductions involve strange, lightning-like teleportations. Braun knows one of the leaders of the suffragist movement—in fact, she used to date the leader’s son, back in New Zealand. Meanwhile, Books continues to struggle with keeping his military past and skills from Braun.…

  30. Book cover for Phoenix Rising

    Phoenix Rising

    by Pip Ballantine

    3 out of 5 stars

    Reviewed

    Why did no one tell me this book existed until now????!!!!111

    Seriously, it took a careful browsing of the library’s New Paperbacks section to discover the second and third books in this series. A quick hop to the nearby computer (which I think is running some kind of locked-down Ubuntu if the font anti-aliasing is anything to go by) to check the library’s catalogue, and sure enough, Phoenix Rising was in the stacks of that…

  31. Book cover for Blood and Iron

    Blood and Iron

    by Jon Sprunk

    2 out of 5 stars

    Reviewed

    Blood and Iron, not to be confused with the urban fantasy novel of the same name by Elizabeth Bear, is the first entry in a trilogy by Jon Sprunk about fantasy nations at war. Our hero is Horace, a shipwright and carpenter stranded on the shores of a hostile empire, at their mercy, who suddenly finds out he can do magic. What ensues in the slow self-destruction of the capital city of this kingdom…

  32. Book cover for The Hidden Family

    The Hidden Family

    by Charles Stross

    3 out of 5 stars

    Reviewed

    I rediscovered this while sorting out my overflow bin of books to read. I hesitated, because since buying it years ago, I’ve learned that the series has been re-edited and republished in doorstopper form, apparently to its benefit as a story. Still, it was there, and I wanted something not too heavy to read.

    The Hidden Family picks up right where The Family Trade left off (literally, because they used to be one book). Whereas

  33. Book cover for Making History

    Making History

    by Stephen Fry

    4 out of 5 stars

    Reviewed

    So you invent a time machine, and what’s the first thing you do? You go back in time and kill Hitler, of course! Except you can’t (TVTropes), because either it doesn’t work or it screws up the timeline even more. Thus resolving one of the burning questions surrounding time travel: if it’s possible, why do we still have Hitler? Stephen Fry tackles this in a best-of-all-possible worlds way in Making History, where his protagonist…

  34. Book cover for Soulless

    Soulless

    by Gail Carriger

    3 out of 5 stars

    Reviewed

    Yes, I have indeed read another romance novel with vampires. What is wrong with me?

    As with The Rest Falls Away, Soulless has been on my to-read list for a while now. I almost bought the boxed set of all five books in this series at Christmas time, stopping myself on the grounds that I wouldn’t want to bring them back to England with me, so they’d gather dust at home until the summer.…

  35. Book cover for The Merchant of Dreams

    The Merchant of Dreams

    by Anne Lyle

    2 out of 5 stars

    Reviewed

    I had little but praise for The Alchemist of Souls, the first adventure of Mal Catlyn and Coby Hendricks in an alternative Elizabethan England. Anne Lyle had a keen eye for characterization and an ability to weave a tight, dramatic story that held my attention and left me wanting more. So more’s the pity that The Merchant of Dreams was quite a different experience!

    This sequel picks up a little while after the first…

  36. Book cover for Dominion

    Dominion

    by C.J. Sansom

    4 out of 5 stars

    Reviewed

    World War II is understandably an attractive point of divergence for writers of alternative history. "What if the Nazis won?" is a compelling question that has been explored many times over. Dominion takes a slightly different tack, imagining instead that the war itself was largely averted through appeasement. C.J. Sansom takes as his point of divergence the fateful meeting in which Churchill, Halifax, and Chamberlain decide who will succeed the latter as Prime Minister. In

  37. Book cover for Roads Not Taken

    Roads Not Taken: Tales of Alternate History

    by Gardner Dozois

    3 out of 5 stars

    Reviewed

    Not that long ago, I sampled another anthology of alternate history, Other Earths. Now I’m dipping into this specialized sub-genre again with Roads Not Taken. The premise is similar, but in this case the stories were all previously published in either Analog or Amazing. Though I’m disappointed that not one of the ten contributors is a woman, the stories themselves are much more thoughtful and interesting than those I encountered in Other

  38. Book cover for Newton's Cannon

    Newton's Cannon

    by Greg Keyes

    2 out of 5 stars

    Reviewed

    I have fond memories of this trilogy from my youth. Or, more likely, of parts of this trilogy, both because in my rebellious heyday I read things out of sequence like it was nobody's business (because it wasn't) and because my library is very fond of buying books 2 and 3 but not book 1. So I can't recall if I ever read Newton”s Cannon, but it seemed like a good place to restart…

  39. Book cover for Clarkesworld Magazine, Issue 71

    Clarkesworld Magazine, Issue 71

    by Neil Clarke

    3 out of 5 stars

    Reviewed

    The novelette offers an opportunity to experiment in a way that short stories and novels don’t often do. You have much more room in which to create a world than a short story, where a glimpse at the larger picture is often all that you can afford. On the other hand, unlike a novel, there is no requirement to have a lengthy plot. With “Fade to White”, Catherine Valente depicts a world torn apart by…

  40. Book cover for Other Earths

    Other Earths

    by Nick Gevers

    2 out of 5 stars

    Reviewed

    Alternate history can often act like a soothing balm: science fiction, but of a very special type. It’s the ultimate “what-if” version of science fiction, the impossible attempt to create counterfactual stories. It is the logical conclusion to the lying that is the art of storytelling; taken to extremes, any story is alternate history. But with Other Earths, we’re on more conventional ground when it comes to alternate history. It’s exactly what it says…

  41. Book cover for Maggot Moon

    Maggot Moon

    by Sally Gardner

    3 out of 5 stars

    Reviewed

    Certain books only work in the first person. I wouldn’t think Maggot Moon would work any other way: you need to experience the world through Standish Treadwell’s eyes—of two different colours. Sally Gardner creates an alternative history dystopia in which an authoritarian Motherland has absolute control, thanks to a combination of propaganda, self-policing, and secret police. It is going through the process of meticulously faking a moon landing, but a single dyslexic child with just…

  42. Book cover for Dead Witch Walking

    Dead Witch Walking

    by Kim Harrison

    3 out of 5 stars

    Reviewed

    I don’t read nearly enough urban fantasy. I’m a little prejudiced against it, since so much of it seems to tend towards paranormal romance. That, and I’m getting mighty tired of every urban fantasy book also having to be a mystery as well. When authors really break the mould of urban fantasy—either by doing something different in our universe, or creating an entirely different universe that happens to be urban—I get excited. While Kim Harrison…

  43. Book cover for The Alchemist of Souls

    The Alchemist of Souls

    by Anne Lyle

    4 out of 5 stars

    Reviewed

    Now this is how you write a novel!

    I love fiction set in Tudor and Elizabethan England. It seems an era particularly rich in epic, empire-spanning events and internal religious and royal conflict. If an author can make historical figures come alive and explore the emotions and motivations that might have been involved in these intrigues, the resultant novel can be an intense, interesting invocation of history. This era is also a rich source of…

  44. Book cover for Zoo City

    Zoo City

    by Lauren Beukes

    4 out of 5 stars

    Reviewed

    Identity is a very fragile and ephemeral concept, and the philosophy surrounding identity fascinates me. If, in the immortal words of Ke$ha, “we R who we R”, then who we are differs depending upon whether we are alone or with people, with friends or with enemies (or, if you are Ke$ha, with frenemies). We perform identity, wearing it like a costume. But it’s not something we entirely control. Identity is not so much a costume…

  45. Book cover for Yellow Blue Tibia

    Yellow Blue Tibia

    by Adam Roberts

    3 out of 5 stars

    Reviewed

    This is a very odd book. It’s the kind of love-child that might result from someone distilling Umberto Eco and Kurt Vonnegut. Adam Roberts takes on the spectre of Soviet Russia and, at the same time, explores how science fiction shapes and is shaped by the issues at work in the society of its time. Yellow Blue Tibia is not your typical work of alternative history.

    At the end of World War II, Stalin gathers…

  46. Book cover for Empire State

    Empire State

    by Adam Christopher

    3 out of 5 stars

    Reviewed

    Empire State is a frenetic concoction of noir mystery, Prohibition-era gangster-style criminal conspiracy, and Golden Age superhero fiction. Reading it is like sitting in a bare room, concrete walls and a single steel table with an uncomfortable chair, as the clock above the door ticks steadily towards 3 AM. It’s minimalist and rough, sometimes surreal and always uncomfortable. Just when I thought I had it figured out, Adam Christopher changes gears and leaves me in…

  47. Book cover for The Family Trade

    The Family Trade

    by Charles Stross

    4 out of 5 stars

    Reviewed

    I was under the impression that this was a science fiction book set in the far future, with a family that controlled merchant interests across a far-flung, loosely-connected human civilization. I was completely off the mark on that … and I couldn’t be happier. The word for this book, I think, is romp. Specifically, it’s a low-tech/hi-fi political and corporate intrigue and espionage romp. I love heist movies. I live for that moment where…

  48. Book cover for Hard Spell

    Hard Spell

    by Justin Gustainis

    3 out of 5 stars

    Reviewed

    I imagine being a detective is difficult enough without specializing in the supernatural. It probably helps that in Justin Gustainis’ alternative world, the existence of supernatural beings from vampires to ghouls to witches has been public knowledge since after World War II. So at least you don’t run into the common problem of everyone thinking you’re crazy. Still, solving mysteries is difficult enough when you don’t have to worry about failure meaning the end of…

  49. Book cover for Carpathia

    Carpathia

    by Matt Forbeck

    2 out of 5 stars

    Reviewed

    With its hundredth anniversary just last month, Titanic was all over the media, much to my dad’s chagrin. He doesn’t understand why everyone seems so fascinated by Titanic (the ship or the James Cameron movie). I personally don’t care much for the movie, but I can see why the ship has captured so many imaginations. It was a huge testament to human ingenuity—and hubris. Its sinking was a monumental event in the early twentieth century.…

  50. Book cover for His Majesty's Dragon

    His Majesty's Dragon

    by Naomi Novik

    3 out of 5 stars

    Reviewed

    Have you ever taken a good, long look at the Napoleonic Wars and thought, “These are cool, but they could really use more dragons”? Naomi Novik did, so she wrote a book about it.

    That’s really all you need to know about the Temeraire series: if it doesn’t sound like your cup of tea, then it’s not going to change your mind about dragons or about the Napoleonic Wars. But if it sounds awesome, then…