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, December 05, 2011

Dancing with Bears

Dancing with Bears is a crazy fun novel by Michael Swanwick featuring his roguish characters Darger and Surplus. Darger is an English gentleman, and Surplus is an American dog genetically modified to talk and behave like a human. Together they hatch improbable schemes that have a habit of going very awry. In this story, the two are traveling with the Byzantine ambassador to Muscovy in a caravan with a mysterious cargo. The cargo is soon revealed to be seven beautiful women genetically designed to be the perfect mates for the Duke of Muscovy. When the ambassador dies, Surplus connives to assume his position.

The two lead the caravan to Muscovy where they get involved in a tangled web of plots. One of the things I enjoy about Swanwick's stories is that each character has a life of his own. They are vivid people with their own agendas and their own methods. Chortenko is the head of the secret police who has armies of informants and nefarious methods. One of his agents is Anya Pepsicolova, a young woman whom he captured and broke to become his protege, but who has her own plans. There are the underlords, mysterious machines who rule the Moscow underworld and have a plot to inflict destruction on the entire world, starting with Muscovy. Then there is the Duke himself, a mysterious character who sleeps and sees all of the realm in his dreams.

The plot is complex and has many twists and turns. The rogues find themselves involved in a revolutionary plot that consumers the entire city. There is a good deal of sex to go around thanks to a special drug that revolutionary agents have brought in. The Pearls, as the seven women gifts are known, have their own immense talents. Indeed, almost nobody is as they seem. There are surprises and humor at every turn. The two rogues are inventive and resourceful, never letting a setback keep them down for long. They are both cynics, indeed they embody the ideal of cynicism. No matter the situation, they always have a wry remark and a clever way to regain the advantage. This is one of the funniest and most entertaining books I've read in a long time. A

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