by Keith Roberts
Started: August 31
Finished: Sept. 5
Notes: It is the 20th Century, but not the 20th Century we knew. Long ago, Elizabeth I was slain by an assassin, leading to the Spanish defeating the English Armada and eventually returning to the Catholic Church the entire political domination of Europe. Of course this power also bled over into the New World and continues into the 20th Century. Now there are hints of revolution. This is the backdrop for this classic speculative novel published in the late 1960s. I've had a copy for a while now and had forgotten all about it until recently when John O'Neil over at Black Gate did a post about it, so I have John to thank for the reminder.
Mini review: This book is a great study in characters and world building. The writing is quite good for the most part, though there are short sections in which I felt the author allowed his pen to meander, to become too literary and oblique. Truth to tell, this is more a collection of related short stories than a novel, though it kind of works that way as well. At first there does not seem to be much relationship between the stories, but eventually more becomes clear and those relationships shine through. Besides being alternative history, this book has its fantasy elements, specifically with fairy, and there's almost a steampunk feel to some parts of it as the technology is roughly equal to that of the middle 19th Century. I can recommend this one.