The Bookman by Lavie Tidhar

Filed under:Bookman,Steampunk — posted by Randolph on April 16, 2013 @ 6:18 pm

The Bookman by Lavie Tidhar

The Bookman is different from any novel I’ve read. I’d call it steampunk, with a twist. It is an adventure novel with many twists done in a masterful fashion. It has an array of characters, known and new, that fit into a well-told story. The story weaves pirates, androids (automatons), aliens, and revolutionaries into an intricate story. It is set in history with many characters, both real and fictional, including kings and queens, Mycroft Holmes, Moriarty, Gilgamesh, Jules Verne, and others. It involves lands that are familiar, but somehow different. We recognize many place names, but they’ve been altered to fit a new history.

The story follows Orphan, a youth coming of age, who didn’t know his parents. He is raised by Gilgamesh, and finds himself being played as a pawn in a giant power struggle. When his love is killed by an exploding book, he becomes involved in his own struggle to get her back, entangling him with a robotic terrorist, lizards from space, and pirates. But nothing is quite what it seems.

I found the pace of the book masterful. It moves quickly, with just the right amount of slow pacing to provide contrast and let things settle. Most of the characters appear for a few pages, then disappear. The plot is unclear. Every chapter or two, we learn more, it all makes sense, then it changes again.

The writing is good, too. Orhan’s love, Lucy is studying whales in the Thames. The whales become a symbol of their love, and becomes a harbinger event to come. The author often uses unusual adjectives that provide an otherworldly feel for characters and events, yet seem quite natural.

I would encourage you to read this one if you enjoy adventure books or like something a bit out of the ordinary. Your creative mind will thank you.

image: detail of installation by Bronwyn Lace