BOOK REVIEW Pax Britannia: Leviathan Rising

By Jonathan Green. Murder on the Steampunk Express

Author: Jonathan Green

Publisher: Abaddon Books

320 pages • £6.99

ISBN: 978-1-905-43760-3

Rating:

Following in the footsteps of the likes of William Gibson and Bruce Sterling’s seminal The Difference Engine and Bryan Talbot’s Luther Arkwright, Abaddon’s steampunk series treads a well-worn path into a potentially intriguing retro-futuristic world where Britain – aka Magna Britannia – is once again the dominant world power.

Leviathan Rising is the third self-contained tale to take place in this faux Victorian world and the second by Jonathan Green, the author of last year’s inaugural effort, Unnatural History, which also featured flamboyant secret agent Ulysses Quicksilver.

But while Unnatural History was set in London, Leviathan Rising finds Quicksilver venturing further afield as he joins the maiden voyage of luxury sub-liner the Neptune. Disaster strikes as sabotage sends the submersible ship to the bottom of the ocean and Quicksilver becomes embroiled in a plot involving the Chinese secret service and ancient sea beast the Kraken.

Green weaves a rollicking, well-paced tale that owes as much to Agatha Christie as Ian Fleming, with Quicksilver combining the urbanity and charm of Poirot with the guile and cunning of Bond. He also resembles another, albeit edgier, dandy: Devlin Waugh. Indeed, the bland Quicksilver could do with some of the Judge Dredd Megazine stalwart’s camp outrageousness.

Green wears his influences on his sleeve as he tips his hat to everything from Waterworld to Doctor Who’s “Voyage of the Damned”. Unfortunately, Leviathan Rising would be a more compelling read if he had some original ideas of his own.

Stephen Jewell

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