Fantasy is not usually my thing, but I found Family Trade to be very good. I actually went and paid full price for the next book in this series.
A bold fantasy in the tradition of Roger Zelazny's Chronicles of amber, The Merchant Princes is a sweeping new series!
I liked it. Miriam is smart and funny, getting fired of a whole new start of her life. Stross has greated a new world, believable and invenetive
OK book. The premise is fine, but it seemed to me that Stross did not think through some of the implications of early events and personalities, and they morphed without reason later in the book. I will probably read the subsequent books- especially if I can get them here- but it has not changed my opinion of Stross based on a couple of his sf books, like "Accelerando," which I thought was a silly waste of time. And I'm an sf fan.
OK, so you know how it goes. You see rave reviews of a fantasy series and you check your PBS credits, see if you can order all three books in the trilogy at once just so #2 and #3 will be lined up by your bedside while you're reading #1. Then, bleh! The first book stinks and you realize you're stuck with all three...
Well, I did feel obliged to push through #1 and even #2 just in case the series got better. It didn't.
The main character in the story, Miriam, is a business journalist who discovers - the hard way - that she has family ties to a feudal, otherworldly crime syndicate. Now she's dodging assasins right and left. But if she can just stay alive long enough, she'll have plenty of opportunities to apply her modern ideas to the family business.
It's a neat idea but Miriam left me totally cold. There's just nothing likeable or even believable about her. And none of the supporting characters were any better.
I know there are people who love this series but I was sorry to waste the credits.
I enjoyed this book of parallel worlds as Miriam discovers the truth about her mother and learns about a family she never knew. I liked how she uses her skills as a journalist to uncover secrets and I look forward to reading the next book in the Merchant Princes series, The Hidden Family.
OK, here's another alternate world story... Ho-hum...
Except it's not just an alternate world story in which someone trapped in intolerable conditions magically gets another chance to set things right.
Stross doesn't just give someone a one-way trip and expect or allow them to start over in a new or better place; he outlines the possible consequences that follow when certain people can cross from one world to another AND COME BACK AGAIN, while most people can't.
Then things get complicated.
FROM BACK COVER:
A bold fantasy in the tradition of Roger Zelazny's Chronicles of Amber, The Merchant Princes is a sweeping new series from the hottest new writer in science fiction! Miriam Beckstein is happy in her life. She's a successful reporter for a hi-tech magazine in Boston, making good money doing what she loves. When her researcher brings her iron-clad evidence of a money-laundering scheme, Miriam thinks she's found the story of the year. But when she takes it to her editor, she's fired on the spot and gets a death threat from the criminals she has uncovered. Before the day is over, she's received a locket left by the mother she never knew-the mother who was murdered when she was an infant. Within is a knotwork pattern, which has a hypnotic effect on her. Before she knows it, she's transported herself to a parallel Earth, a world where knights on horseback chase their prey with automatic weapons, and where world-skipping assassins lurk just on the other side of reality - a world where her true family runs things. The six families of the Clan rule the kingdom of Gruinmarkt from behind the scenes, a mixture of nobility and criminal conspirators whose power to walk between the worlds makes them rich in both. Braids of family loyalty and intermarriage provide a fragile guarantee of peace, but a recently-ended civil war has left the families shaken and suspicious. Taken in by her mother's people, she becomes the star of the story of the century-as Cinderella without a fairy godmother. As her mother's heir, Miriam is hailed as the prodigal countess Helge Thorold-Hjorth, and feted and feasted. Caught up in schemes and plots centuries in the making, Miriam is surrounded by unlikely allies, forbidden loves, lethal contraband, and, most dangerous of all, her family. Her unexpected return will supercede the claims of other clan members to her mother's fortune and power, and whoever killed her mother will be happy to see her dead, too. Behind all this lie deeper secrets still, which threaten everyone and everything she has ever known. Patterns of deception and interlocking lies, as intricate as the knotwork between the universes. But Miriam is no one's pawn, and is determined to conquer her new home on her own terms. Blending the creativity and humor of Roger Zelazny, the adventure of H. Beam Piper and Philip Jose Farmer, and the rigor and scope of a science-fiction writer on the grandest scale, Charles Stross has set a new standard for fantasy epics.
An alternate world adventure featuring "world walkers" and the fascinating yet brutal society they have created. The protagonist is a journalist whose career is abruptly threatened when she uncovers evidence of a massive money-laundering conspiracy. When she begins to learn of her heritage, she becomes intent on affecting much-needed change. I can't wait to read the rest of the series! Highly recommended.
Okay story line but I doubt I'll read the rest of the trilogy.