Monday, October 24, 2011

"The Immorality Engine" by George Mann (Reviewed by Liviu Suciu)

Official George Mann Website
Order "The Immorality Engine" HERE
Read FBC's Review of "The Affinity Bridge"
Read FBC's Review of "The Osiris Ritual"

INTRODUCTION: The Affinity Bridge was a personal favorite of mine in 2008 and the next series installment "The Osiris Ritual" was a top 20 novel for 2009. In consequence I have been pestering Mr. Mann for a review copy of The Immorality Engine for a long time and I was absolutely delighted when I got a pdf sometime in the spring. While I read the book on receiving it, the May-July hiatus from FBC due to my household move prevented my reviewing it for its UK publication in June; in addition, as a third series novel after reviewing the first two, The Immorality Engine was one of the harder reviews to do as I wanted to balance meaningful information with avoidance of both spoilers and repetition of what I have said earlier, so it took a while longer than I wished.

OVERVIEW/ANALYSIS: The Immorality Engine is the third Newbury and Hobbes adventure and the action takes place some months from the end of The Osiris Ritual. In somewhat of a gamble, the author does not start the novel chronologically, but dramatically with a funeral of a favorite character and then goes back in time to recount the events that have led to said funeral.

While on first read I was a little bit surprised by this narrative choice which seemed to unbalance the feel as the book starts emotional and then flatlines somewhat for a while and then accelerates to the dramatic climax, in the end I thought the change was effective in mixing things around and avoiding the same dynamic from the first two books.

As storyline goes, The Immorality Engine has the same structure as the previous installments - seemingly unrelated mysteries, this time the murder of a high-class jewel thief and an assassination attempt on Queen Victoria - which bring Maurice Newbury out from his opium descent after the events and especially the denouement of The Osiris Ritual which made him question everything about his life and job.

His steadfast friend Inspector Bainbridge and Newbury's assistant Veronica Hobbes - who intuits that she is at least partly the reason for his descent into full addiction, though unlike us, she does not know exactly why, though things are even trickier than we know - try desperately to "bring him back" and finally the case of the jewel-thief and later the deeper mysteries involved do so.

The Immorality Engine flows well and you cannot stop turning the pages until the final resolution, while the combination of great character interaction and inventiveness that has characterized the series to date is present in full. Adding to this, The Immorality Engine features several villains that top everything up to now, while the earlier moral ambiguities get even more pronounced here. The story-lines of the three volumes come full circle in some ways here and bring a sense of closure to the first half of the series, while promising much for the next planned three volumes, though the way the characters have grown on me I would be happy to read six more at the least.

Overall, The Immorality Engine (A+) is a great culmination of the series so far ending its first arc on a superb note and I strongly recommend everyone that loves sff adventure with a steampunk/mystery/thriller tinge to give it a try!

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