Monday, December 31, 2012

Edi's Spotlight: By Any Other Name by Michel R Vaillancourt

Dear Readers,
this is the last day of 2012 and I would like to close 2012 with a review. Regularly readers know that I have a knack for steampunk. Yesterday I reviewed an epic fantasy and today you get the review of a DIAMOND in the world of STEAMPUNK books!

On December 1st, I told you that I bought digital copies of the first two books in the  Sauder Diaries series by Michel R. Vaillancourt.
Yesterday I finished reading A Bloodier Rose (digital, 1st edition (25th October 2012) [Amazon Kindle ASIN: B009NI33R2] which is the second book in the series.
And today I deliver the review of By Any Other Name (digital, 2nd edition 11th June 2012) [Amazon Kindle ASIN: B008AP8VJE] which is the first book in the  Sauder Diaries series.

Book Store Information
In general my decision to read a book is mostly based on the cover and the blurb/synopsis delivered on the back cover. You do not get more information when you are in a book store. The world of books is changing which means I also will take in account blurbs and descriptions on GOODREADS and other places.
Here we go:

By Any Other Name  
(digital, 2nd edition 11th June 2012) 
[Amazon Kindle ASIN: B008AP8VJE]
"A pirate-infused steampunk world, rooted in the historical fabric of Victorian Europe, in which the Crimean War ended with a stalemate and not a victory. Airships and clockwork mechanisms are the technology of the future, mad scientists and engine-driven dragons run rampant, and Russia stands tall as the supermenace overshadowing the world. Living amidst this vivid, turbulent clockwork world is Hans Sauder, a gentleman's son and German expat. While en route to University to study engineering, his airship is waylaid by the nefarious pirate ship The Bloody Rose. Confronted with a choice to either join the crew or be tossed overboard into the most volatile wilds of Europe, Hans reluctantly steps into the role of a pirate.
As he is given the kind of education no university could have prepared him for, Hans finds himself at the center of a paradoxical world, where the Captain conducts piracy with a gentleman's keen business sense, the most lethal crew members are the women, and the dark underbelly of a "peaceful" Europe is exposed at every turn.
As the story unfolds, Hans' new life is further complicated by the romantic advances of the leader of the ship's gunner-marines, a ruthless and no-nonsense woman with a chip on her shoulder. As well, Hans is perpetually dogged by a deep conflict between his sense of morals and duty to his family, and the challenges and adventure of this new life he has discovered." [Source]

My Expectations
I must say the cover and the blurb created a certain atmosphere. I expected a fast paced adventure with steam driven technology, airship battles and pirate life in a world which goes far beyond the borders of Victorian England.

The Delivery
The 253 pages of the story are divided into 14 named chapters introduced by diary entries and an epilogue.

Follow me back in time to the year 1888. Follow me to a world which differs from the world of 1888 we know from our history books. In the world of the Sauder Diaries  the Crimean War ended with a stalemate. A result of the war is a zone called Scorch Land and peoples are afraid of remains of war in form of dragons Galvanotaurs. These dragons have nothing to do with your imagination of a dragon. The dragons in the Sauder Diaries are war marauding 90,000 pounds war machines directed by an autonomous analog differential analyzer. Galvanotaurs are hand-built human war machines which means the consist of flesh, nuts and bolts.
The dominant means of transportation and in Europe, Middle East and Africa is the airship.  Of course there are also military airships.
Airships dive the sky like advanced sailing vessels. And like on the sea merchant airships are the preferred prey of pirates, air pirates.
airships are driven by steam and some use advanced engines.

The Sauder Diaries tell the story of Hans Sauder. The Sauder family left Bremen in Germany and emigrated to England. It is important to emphasize that England in the Sauder Diaries represents a lot  of what we know from Victorian England when it comes to society.
Hans is a well educated man who appreciate the Victorian society.

Hans is on board a passenger air ship on his way to the Kungliga Tekniska högskolan in Stockholm which is an airship engine design school.
Then the air ship is arrested by the infamous pirate air ship The Bloody Rose. Hans got the choice to be tossed over board or to join crew. He decided for the latter. And that is where an extraordinary steampunk adventure set sail .......

The whole story is told from Hans Sauder's point of view. Every chapter starts with a diary entry by Hans. At first you may be surprised because the content of the diary entry is like a summary of the chapter. But each diary entry is like a bait. The entry reveals just enough to force you to continue reading and it works through the whole book.
is an excellent story teller who always knows to use the right words to unfold emotions, character studies, action and technical depictions in a most entertaining way. 

The captain and the officers of The Bloody Rose is an incredible bunch of people. Very individual characters from different countries described in inimitable manner and they all develop within the story !!!!
But the most impressive character development  is delivered in the person of Hans Sauder.
The Bloody Rose is the stage, the crew members are the actors, and Michel R. Vaillancourt use each character to reflect the world (e.g. the role of women in Victorian England, in Mideast and on board) in grand style and in the microcosm of the individuals. The interaction between the crew members themselves and between the crew members and Hans Sauder is a ballet of words. The slowly but surely blossoming romance between Hans Sauder and the Russian Annika Nadezhda, who is the Captain of The Bloody Rose’s the Gunnar-Marines, is definitely the cherry on the cake. 
To be honest, I'm no fan of romance but what Michel R. Vaillancourt delivers is even for me that convincing!!
I hope you will understand that I do not give you any details about other characters like Captain Blackheart or Chief Engineer Arietta Atala, a woman of Ethiopian heritage and there roles in the game of Hans Sauder's life.
Now it is important to tell you that beyond everything told before, there is a lot of action in the air and on the ground. And furthermore you get a lot of insight how to steer an air ship and how the engines and cannons work.
It seems that every word has a meaning there is no wadding. I hope I do not ring hollow when I tell you that the British Intelligence Service has an impact on the story.

I will not dissemble that By Any Other Name ends with a kind of cliffhanger. I must say it is just the ending the book deserves and the best argument to read the next book.
Anyway I have been happy that I could continue reading with the second book, A Bloodier Rose.

By Any Other Name is one of the best steampunk debut novels I read so far.


Further information
There is an interview from January 2012 with over at Surly Muse.
Visit the Michel R. Vaillancourt site.
Like the Sauder Diaries on Facebook
Michel R Vaillancourt on Twitter

The book trailer

The whole instrumental from the book trailer
- The Iron Rose by The Clockwork Dolls


1 comment:

Dinda said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...