Newton's Cannon (The Age of Unreason, Book 1)

J. Gregory Keyes

Published by Del Rey
ISBN 10: 0345406052 / ISBN 13: 9780345406057
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Synopsis: In this stunning new novel, acclaimed author J. Gregory Keyes charts a course sideways through time. Come with him to a world both deeply familiar and wondrously strange. Lose yourself in a fantasy woven from the stuff of history, a dazzling quest whose outcome will raise humanity to unparalleled heights of glory--or ring down a curtain of endless night  . . .

NEWTON'S CANNON

1681: Sir Isaac Newton turns his restless mind to the ancient art of alchemy. He achieves an unprecedented breakthrough, unleashing Philosopher's Mercury, a primal source of matter and a key to manipulating the four elements of Earth, Air, Fire, and Water. Now, Louis XIV of France and George I of England battle for its control. As English armies push nearer to Paris, Louis calls for a new weapon--a mysterious device known only as Newton's Cannon.

Amidst the decadence of Versailles, courtiers and poseurs plot and scheme. And Adrienne de Montchevreuil, an impecunious noblewoman of great beauty and unsuspected talents, labors to unlock the mystery of Newton's Cannon before it is too late--for her King, for her country . . . for herself.

In Boston a half a world away, a young apprentice by the name of Benjamin Franklin stumbles across a dangerous secret. Pursued by a powerful and deadly enemy--half scientist, half sorcerer--Ben makes his fugitive way to England. Only Newton himself can help him now. But who will help Sir Isaac? For Newton was not the first to unleash the Philosopher's Mercury. Others were there before him. Creatures as scornful of science as they are of mankind. And burning to be rid of both . . .

Review: Newton's Cannon is an alternate history set primarily in the court of Louis XIV. This might sound familiar to readers of Vonda McIntyre's Nebula-winning The Moon and the Sun. Keyes, like McIntyre, blends alchemy, history, and fantasy in his novel.

Keyes's characters are expertly drawn: Louis XIV, the aging King of France who seeks a return to international preeminence, young Ben Franklin of Boston, a printer's apprentice who yearns to master alchemy, and Adrienne de Montchevreuil, a lovely, impoverished noblewoman who secretly pursues mathematics, but attracts Louis's lustful attention. The many secondary characters are also believable personalities, and the plot is original and suspenseful. Keyes's writing is precise and witty. "It was, Adrienne reflected, impossible not to be impressed by the Grand Canal. More like a cruciform inland sea with banks of polished marble, it summed up many things about Versailles. It was monumental in proportion, insanely expensive, impossible to overlook, and entirely frivolous."

Though the ending of Newton's Cannon leaves much unresolved--setting up book two of The Age of Unreason, A Calculus of Angels--it's fine entertainment all by itself. --Nona Vero

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Title: Newton's Cannon (The Age of Unreason, Book 1...
Publisher: Del Rey
Book Condition: Good

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