Phoenix Rising is set in the late 1890’s London where Queen Victoria rules. Yet, there are those who don’t much care for her, or her policies and want to see her rule end and replaced by something else entirely. The villains don’t much care for those from the colonies and want them returned to their home countries immediately. It’s a city that has dirigibles, and mechanical men. Even Books has created a new technology that can actually locate a certain person like Braun, for instance, any place in London.
I supposed if I were looking for a romantic encounter between the two main characters, I would have been seriously disappointed by the story. Yet, there is a hint of mutual respect and admiration as the two characters get to know the other better. Personally, I like the story just the way it is without any sex scenes thrown in just for the hell of it.
Eliza D. Braun is a field agent for the Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences. She is originally from New Zealand (which she tends to explain to everyone when she meets them) and carries an arsenal on her body that would shame the Terminator. I especially loved the bullet proof corset that she is so fond of wearing. She is a little off kilter and doesn’t really play well with others.
She is soon reassigned to the Archives after she blows up an entire complex run by the House of Asher while rescuing her soon to be partner Wellington Thornhill Books, Esquire aka Welly from a stronghold in Antarctica without taking down the organization itself.
Eliza is also street smart, and has her own little gang of misfits called Ministry Seven. The seven are lost children who give her information on what’s happening on the streets of London. Eliza is a world traveler as well, and has made more than a few “acquaintances” who have showered her with expensive gifts including the ability to have a nicer apartment than would be expected from someone from the colonies.
One of the best scenes is when Eliza meets Sophia del Morte, an Italian assassin who was sent to retrieve Welly, and faces off against Eliza at the backdrop of an opera. It was an interesting yet entertaining scene because both women are ruthless and fearless when it comes to fighting and the use of various weaponry. Yet, they both pause at a pivotal moment to acknowledge the other’s wardrobe and who their seamstress is.
Wellington, when we first meet him, is a stuff shirt who has been captured by the House of Asher because they want his knowledge of things within the MOPO Archives. But, they aren’t the only ones. He soon finds an old nemesis, The Phoenix Society, wants his loyalty as well in order to bring down the British Empire and put something entirely different in its place that doesn’t much care for colonist within their mists.
Welly prefers to hide in the Archives where he is alone and doesn’t have to get his hands dirty with investigations and running around blowing things up like Braun. Yet, there is a deeper truth to Welly as well. He is really a really good agent when it puts his timid self behind and lets the real Welly out to play. He is also a brilliant shot with any weapon, a fact that is hidden from Eliza as she lies unconscious. He also has an internal voice that continually chastises him for his restraint and lack of action.
Villains – There are more than a few villains in this book. There is the Phoenix Society as well as the House of Asher. Both are working towards the same goal of bringing down the British Empire yet by different means. It appears that they may be separate organizations yet some members may be part of both groups. There is also a betrayal within the MOPO by one of its own agents at the behest of someone close to the queen, or so we are lead to believe. That particular mystery has yet to be discovered or played out. It will be interesting to see what happens in the Janus Affair.
Phoenix Rising, by Pip Ballantine and Tee Morris, is a rip roaring seriously entertaining story with a definite steampunk flavor that I was happy to have found thanks to my GR friends. I’m definitely looking forward to getting my grubby little hands on the Janus Affair as soon as I am able.
|Title||Phoenix Rising: A Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences Novel|
Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences
|Authors||Pip Ballantine, Tee Morris|