Freedom & Necessity

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9780812562613: Freedom & Necessity

It is 1849. Across Europe, the high tide of revolution has crested, leaving recrimination and betrayal in its wake. From the high councils of Prussia to the corridors of Parliament, the powers-that-be breathe sighs of relief. But the powers-that-be are hardly unified among themselves. Far from it...

On the south coast of England, London man-about-town James Cobham comes to himself in a country inn, with no idea how he got there. Corresponding with his cousin, he discovers himself to have been presumed drowned in a boating accident. Together they decide that he should stay put for the moment, while they investigate what may have transpired. For James Cobham is a wanted man--wanted by conspiring factions of the government and the Chartists alike, and also the target of a magical conspiracy inside his own family.

And so the adventure begins...leading the reader through every corner of mid-nineteenth-century Britain, from the parlors of the elite to the dens of the underclass. Not since Wilkie Collins or Conan Doyle has there been such a profusion of guns, swordfights, family intrigues, women disguised as men, occult societies, philosophical discussions, and, of course, passionate romance.

Nor could any writing team but Steven Brust and Emma Bull make it quite so much fun...

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Review:

The early 19th century was a heady time of repeated challenges to the assumption that the social order as it stood was supernaturally (divinely) ordained. A particularly sticky web of politics and romance traps Susan Voight and James Cobham in a dense, thrillingly suspenseful plot connecting a reforming democratic labor movement, Chartism, to a secret society, the Trotters Club, whose corrupt members intend to exploit a magical ritual for their personal, complicated purposes of vengeance and power. Layers of truths and falsehoods mislead and confound the protagonists in their dealings with each other and the conspiracies; they come to understand that only honesty can save them. Although the perversion of the natural power of sorcery fails because it is unnatural, the social order, unnatural or not, is more resistant to justice. The swift pace, surprising developments, and appealing characters make it nearly impossible to put this book down. Though the women's rights movement is glancingly acknowledged, the conventionally romantic fulfillment is a little disappointing. Is there no other end for intelligent, financially independent women than maternity and love-partnership (as binding, or more, as legal marriage) with a man?

About the Author:

Born in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and raised in a family of Hungarian labor organizers, Steven Brust worked as a musician and a computer programmer before coming to prominence as a writer in 1983 with Jhereg, the first of his novels about Vlad Taltos, a human professional assassin in a world dominated by long-lived, magically-empowered human-like "Dragaerans."

Over the next several years, several more "Taltos" novels followed, interspersed with other work, including To Reign in Hell, a fantasy re-working of Milton's war in Heaven; The Sun, the Moon, and the Stars, a contemporary fantasy based on Hungarian folktales; and a science fiction novel, Cowboy Feng's Space Bar and Grille. The most recent "Taltos" novels are Dragon and Issola. In 1991, with The Phoenix Guards, Brust began another series, set a thousand years earlier than the Taltos books; its sequels are Five Hundred Years After and the three volumes of "The Viscount of Adrilankha": The Paths of the Dead, The Lord of Castle Black, and Sethra Lavode.

While writing, Brust has continued to work as a musician, playing drums for the legendary band Cats Laughing and recording an album of his own work, A Rose for Iconoclastes. He lives in Las Vegas, Nevada where he pursues an ongoing interest in stochastics.

Emma Bull was born in 1954 in Torrance, California. She now lives in Minneapolis and is also the author of War for the Oaks and Bone Dance.

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