Saturday, February 9, 2013

A Gentlewoman's Chronicles: Michael Coorlim

Title: A Gentlewoman's Chronicles
Author: Michael Coorlim
Stand Alone or Series?: Series (The Complete Triology in one book)
Genre: Action/ Adventure (Steampunk)
Publisher: Pomoconsumption Press
Publish Date: October 30th, 2012
Pages: 115 (pdf)
Obtained: Obtained Review Copy free from Library Thing.

Series synopsis obtained from Author's website: Chronicles of a Gentlewoman is an action-packed thriller series set in an alternate history Victorian steampunk world. This collection of three novelettes takes gentlewoman Aldora Fiske all the way from London, to the jungles of Mexico, to the Ottoman Empire.

This review contains spoilers.

I'm going to start off by saying that I'm genuinely surprised just how much I enjoyed this book (or this series rather). Not because of the setting - I love the Victorian era, and I love the idea of a steampunk alternate history even more. I love the idea of a woman taking charge in a world run by men. I honestly didn't think I'd like it because the synopsis (even the full one describing each of the three stories included in this book) didn't really get me excited. I requested this book on a whim and I'm very glad I did so! This book has rekindled my love for the Action/Adventure novels and I'll have to look into getting myself more to read. This series is the perfect mix of Tintin, Indiana Jones combined with a touch of gentlewomanly flare and social manoeuvring. 

The action in the novels is fast paced and character driven with this nice undercurrent of wit that I just ate up. The tone of the dialogue fits the setting and what's more you can tell a lot about the different characters by just the way they talk and I love that. There are a bunch of little minor twists throughout the stories that keeps you engaged and wanting for more.  In the first two novels I really enjoyed how the author slipped in details about Aldora's personal life every now and then as a compelling subplot in most of these novels -- about her apparent double life as a respectable woman and a daring adventurer. 

The novelettes have a very cinematic feel although some of the scene switches can feel too sudden or feel as though they cut off scenes too suddenly. For the most part however I felt as though they were well done and kept the action moving forward at a fast pace. 

The first novelette, "Sky Pirates Over London" started off giving me a few doubts as the first few lines were approaching purple prose territory, but it wasn't overbearing so it was forgivable -- especially considering only moments later I was thrown right into the action with a great fire fight between two airships over London. It was a great introduction to the setting, and our heroine, Aldora Frisk. The second novelette, "The Tower of Babbage" did a great job of expanding on the setting and bringing us further into her personal life which was awesome to see. 

I really enjoyed how in the short span of time we encountered most of the characters in the series, due to the length of the novelettes, the author was really able to make me feel for them. I mourned the deaths of some of Miss Frisk's companions. The villains  in each of the novels were just as compelling as the heroes with believable motivations for their actions (thus avoiding the easy pitfall of enemy-of-the-week feel of Saturday morning cartoons) which was nice to see. That said, I did begin to feel a little sorry for Aldora's "fiancé of convenience" at times. It is made clear throughout the course of the novels that the pair has had a long engagement, and that engagement wasn't made out of love but rather out of a mutual benefit to the both of them (the ability to live the lives they choose while appealing to the high society they belong to). The pair are good friends, but not lovers, however that didn't stop me from feeling sorry for him as Aldora when off on her adventures. Why? Mostly because Aldora goes on these adventures without her fiancé knowing what she's really up to -- and on these adventures she usually pairs up with a male that she tends to have subtle chemistry with. This chemistry/attraction gets more and more apparent as the series goes on (and as her wedding date approaches) which leads me to the third novelette, "Fine Young Turks".

I liked all three novelettes but "Fine Young Turks" was the one I honestly liked the best even though I thought initially it was going to be my least favourite. This book was markedly different after the last two stories where Aldora Frisk had the center stage bravely solving problems while her personal life took a back seat off in the background -- "Fine Young Turks" has Aldora as a victim, it was strange to see her take the back seat to most of the action, which honestly at first annoyed me -- moreso because she was seemingly falling head over heels in love with Cemal-- the leader of the new Ottoman Empire -- one where males and females are treated equally -- and ideal she longs for. He then seems to become her protector and for the most part the action seems to be taking place off stage with Aldora focusing on her choice between Cemal and life of freedom and her fiancé and love of Britain. What she wants versus what she 'should do'.  To me this was annoying because this novel seemed to focus solely on the sudden, budding romance between Aldora and Cemal when romance hadn't been a focus of the previous novels . I mean on one hand it was nice to see Aldora vulnerable and at a disadvantage for a change but at the same it was annoying because it was all "oh he's so handsome" "oh gosh how improper I'm not attracted to him at all!" -- but then the twist at the latter part of the novelette occurred and it was amazing. I don't want to spoil it but I didn't expect it at all, and it turned just about all my expectations on its head and I love the author for it.

That said, I really wish these novels were longer and spent more time bringing us further into the world of Aldora Frisk. The series left me wanting more and I will look forward to any other Aldora Frisk adventures that may come out in the future.

Rating: 7.5/10 stars. (see Review Policy for more details on star ratings)

No comments:

Post a Comment