You Are What You Read

Reviews of books as I read them. This is basically a (web)log of books I've read.

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Location: Lawrenceville, Georgia, United States

I am a DBA/database analyst by day, full time father on evenings and weekends.

Monday, January 12, 2009

The Hidden Family

The Hidden Family, by Charles Stross, is the second book of his Merchant Princes series, a follow-up to The Family Trade. Miriam is still hiding from her family with her friend and business partner Paulette and her lady in waiting Brilliana. Miriam uses a locket she found on a would-be assassin to world-travel to a third world.

Much of the first part of the book is Miriam's exploration of New Britain, the land of the third world. She discovers it has a fascinating history that breaks with the regular history in the seventeenth century with the English Civil War, and the French rule the British Isles. Miriam has to navigate the paranoid laws and the risk of being accused of being a French agent. She comes to the conclusion that the missing family members have been traveling between this world and the world of the family.

Miriam tells her lover Roland and then her uncle Duke Angbard. Angbard morphs from a stern power figure to an understanding member of the family. There are surprises along the way, as Miriam discovers (it is in many ways a novel of discovery, family secrets and all) that many people around her are not exactly who they seem to be. After another assassination attempt, she brings the perpetrator to the family castle and convinces Angbard to declare an emergency family meeting. In the end Miriam faces down her grandmother, gets her business accepted as a family enterprise, and helps save the day from a family traitor.

This book is a satisfactory sequel. Learning about the ways of the new world was a lot of fun. Sometimes I got a little tired of Miriam figuring out everything so easily, and I wanted her to struggle a little more. The characters other than Miriam are not as well developed as they could be, but over the course of the series they have potential. There's not really a big sense of suspense in the story, but there are a lot of pieces of family struggle that come out and are very familiar to just about anyone. The intrigue within the family is pretty good, though I felt it could have been drawn out a bit more. But there are surprises, and they are enjoyable. B+


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