Read The Bookman by Lavie Tidhar Online


A masked terrorist has brought London to its knees - there are bombs inside books, and nobody knows which ones. On the day of the launch of the first expedition to Mars, by giant cannon, he outdoes himself with an audacious attack. For young poet Orphan, trapped in the screaming audience, it seems his destiny is entwined with that of the shadowy terrorist, but how? Like aA masked terrorist has brought London to its knees - there are bombs inside books, and nobody knows which ones. On the day of the launch of the first expedition to Mars, by giant cannon, he outdoes himself with an audacious attack. For young poet Orphan, trapped in the screaming audience, it seems his destiny is entwined with that of the shadowy terrorist, but how? Like a steam-powered take on V for Vendetta, rich with satire and slashed through with automatons, giant lizards, pirates, airships and wild adventure, The Bookman is the first of a series. (Description from

Title : The Bookman
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780007346615
Format Type : ebook
Number of Pages : 416 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

The Bookman Reviews

  • Dan Schwent
    2018-11-08 11:13

    Just minutes before a space cannon launches a probe to Mars, a terrorist called The Bookman kills poet Orphan's love in an explosion. Orphan's quest for the truth about her death takes him below the streets of London, aboard the Nautilus with Jules Verne and Captain Nemo, and to the mysterious island home of Les Lezards, the lizard men who rule the world...Okay, now this is what all steampunk books should aspire to be! What Lavie Tidhar has done in The Bookman is simply marvelous. Most of the steampunk books I've read had too much going on or the steampunk element seemed tacked on. Not so in The Bookman.The world Tidhar has created is a curious mix of Victorian London and alternate history. In this case, the jonbar point was the rise of the Les Lezards from an island in what we call the Caribbean. Queen Victoria is a lizard woman, a probable nod to The Steampunk Trilogy. The word is chock-full of steam punk goodness: airships, automatons, etc, and all is integral to the plot and not just window dressing.Orphan, the protagonist, is a poet and certainly no superhero. He takes quite a beating throughout the book, going from the frying pan to the fire on many occasions. His quest to find The Bookman, a terrorist who uses exploding books as weapons, is just the tip of the iceberg.Fictional characters mingle with real ones. Karl Marx and Henry Irving exist in the same world as Harry Flashman and Moriarty, who is the Prime Minister. Jules Verne rubs shoulders with Captain Nemo, and Irene Adler is an Inspector while Watson is working in a hospital. Herbert West, the Re-Animator himself, is even mention.The writing is top notch and a cut above most books of this type. Tidhar does a great job building suspense. Most chapters end with Orphan's fortunes getting even worse in the last sentence.I really want to gush about all the plot twists but rather than be a tremendous spoiler, I'm going to go into the huge number of Easter Eggs in this thing. At one point, Orphan goes into a bookstore and there are books written by (view spoiler)[William Ashbless, Cosmo Cowperthwait, Jubal Harshaw, and Gordon Lachance. Quite a mix. In fact, Ashbless is mentioned multiple times. (hide spoiler)].I could go on and on but you'd be better served to just read the book yourself. For what it is, a steampunk adventure story, it's a solid five.

  • Jeffrey Keeten
    2018-11-15 12:52

    ”Everywhere he looked there were books.They rose into the air in majestic columns, stacks and stacks of them forming a maze that seemed to stretch to forever; the stacks rose high into the air and disappeared towards the unseen ceiling. The air had the overwhelming smell of old books, of polished leather and yellowing leaves, like the smell of a bookshop or a public library magnified a thousand-fold.”Orphan is a poet, not just a poet in desire, but actually a published poet. He is in love with a young woman named Lucy. ”I travelled among unknown men,In lands beyond the sea;Nor, England! did I know till thenWhat love I bore to thee.--William Wordsworth, ‘Lucy’”One of his good friends is Tom Thumb, not exactly the Thumb from fairy tale legends, but more of roguish womanizer who has decided opinions about poets. ’Bleedin’ poets,’ Tom Thumb muttered as he exchanged his pyjamas for a crumpled suit. ‘Always bleating of love and flowers and sheep grazing in fields. The only sheep I like are the ones resting on a spit.’Orphan’s world is one of human, or machine, or lizardine. Though few in number the lizards are the rulers of this alternative Earth. They are intent on sending a probe to Mars, but as the plot thickens it becomes less apparent exactly what their intentions are with the launch. Lord Byron is a machine, a very realistic version built by men that existed before. He is intent on getting equal rights for machines and for some bloody reason he thinks Orphan can help him with that. The Turk a machine that might be an oracle or maybe just a riddler.When Lucy is a victim of a terrorist attack, a book that was a bomb or a bomb that was a book, Orphan is intent on doing everything he can to bring her back. Dead it seems is never really quite dead. The very entity that blew her up proves to be the means by which she can be resurrected. He is THE BOOKMAN.”A monstrous being made of the yellowing pages of thousands of books, with a face like bleached vellum and gilt-edged eyes, who stalked him through a maze of bookshelves where no light penetrated.”He has an agenda as well and like Lord Byron believes Orphan is the means to achieve his aims. ”We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.”--Oscar Wilde, Lady Windermere’s Fan.Now Lavie Tidhar infuses this novel with a whole host of famous real and fictional people. Karl Marx makes an appearance along with Isabella Beeton. Mycroft and Sherlock Holmes have small roles as do Harry Flashman, Henry Irving, Captain Nemo, Watson, and Irene Adler. Moriarty, yes that man, is the Prime Minister. Jules Verne proves to be a much needed ally for Orphan as he places the flying version of the Nautilus at his disposal. It seems there is an island, a disappearing/reappearing Caliban’s Island that holds the key to the puzzle. Quotes and allusions to Shakespeare are rampant throughout the text. Irene Adler played by Gayle Hunnicutt.This novel is an ode to all that Tidhar obviously loves about Victorian history, about books, and about the meshing of science and fiction. I’ve made several attempts to read and enjoy steampunk fiction, but this is the first time I can truly say I loved the ride from beginning to end. Almost every chapter ends with a cliffhanger which to me was a nod to what has surely been a long love affair by the author with pulp fiction. The steampunk is blended so nicely into the story with airships, mechanical birds that eat; and well, poop, and a simulacrum that was magically produced from Orphan’s thumb that it never proved a distraction from the page turning plot. As humans begin to decide the future; as machines see a destabilized government as an opportunity; as the lizards may just want to go home, the power behind it all, much like the world we live in now has a council of war. ”The fate of the city, Orphan thought, would be decided here, over port and cigars, at the end of the meal. Was this how revolutions started? Or was that how they end?”Did I mention there is a Binder? For there to be a Bookman there must also be a Binder. In this case he is a spider who may be able to reconstruct what the Bookman destroys. Orphan must survive the alleyways of London and the shark and pirate infested waters of his ongoing quest. He will be pulled and prodded from all directions as the power players with their different agendas discover that he may be the means to the end or a new beginning. Orphan becomes everyone’s pawn as he tries to find the right leverage to achieve his goal of returning Lucy to his loving arms. If Jules Verne or H.G. Wells were being first published today they would be considered Steampunk.Tidhar shares his love of books, of ideas, of unfettered imagination to remind us all of why we not only began reading, but why we keep reading. An absolute delight to read.

  • Michael Fierce
    2018-11-16 07:59

    When I first caught sight of this book cover, I was immediately taken in.I wanted to read the synopsis but felt that if I did, there was a good chance it would spoil some of the surprises for me best left for later down the road. So, I didn't. It was enough for me that it was steampunk, obviously influenced by Jules Verne, had airships in it, and I'd accidentally caught wind that there were lizard men in it. *Drool*.I did my research and from the reviews + info I found, Lavie Tidhar, sounded like my kind of author. Wow is he ever!Lavie Tidhar is a master storyteller. Leaps and bounds beyond any debut novelist I've read since Laird Barron. Noticeably, at a level with modern writers like A. Lee Martinez and Charles Stross, whose writing styles, characters, and worlds I am deeply into, albeit applebees & orange blossoms in comparison.Lavie Tidhar has a grasp of the English language like few others and it isn't even his first language. Or even his second, from what I understand. Here is a sample (NOT A SPOILER) of his prose as he's describing the cityscape and sky above it:"Smoke rose from chimneys, low-lying and dense like industrial clouds, merging with the fog that wrapped itself around the buildings. In the distance too, were the lights of the Babbage Tower, its arcane mechanisms pointed at the skies, its light a beacon and a warning to the mail airships that flew at night, like busy bumblebees delivering dew from flower to flower." Yes. He's that good. In fact, so good that he's able to juggle this steampunk world with a storyline and subplots that would, under a lesser writer's pen, come across as cliché, not to mention the risky decision of borrowing characters from famous books and history that would seem borderline plagiarism, if not handled so masterfully. He succeeds on all levels. I will gladly debate this with anyone who disagrees with me on these points! Also, don't forget, this is his debut novel. I am a fan of nearly all steampunk; scientific romances, edisonades, gaslight romances, hardcore steampunk, weird western steampunk, Victorian, Elizabethan, and all the sub-genres tagged with some of them: adventure, horror, cryptozoology, zombie, fantasy, alternate history, retro-futurism, sci-fi, dystopian, you-name-it. This one is a more traditional Victorian-seeming steampunk. But, really, it's not. There are higher forms of technology going on, for one - cybernetics? though it is never called that - the "Victorians" are, in fact, Les Lézards, so you won't be seeing haughty Queen Victoria waving her fan in front of her face in-between these pages. Then there is The Bookman "himself", what he is - it is - they are, will have to be determined while reading. It doesn't follow any of the typically standard steampunk rules, anyway. However, there are many familiar steampunk elements and technologies you would expect to be here: airships, air balloons, submarines, gaslamps, dusty characters with funny time-period hats, smokestacks, etc. But there is also a lack of expected one's like goggles, absinthe, and a few others. As strange as it must seem, most of these steampunk elements are more circumstantial then you would expect, even though they're 'visually' prominent. Furthermore. In one sense I felt like there were many things that were heading towards predictability, but all of these were shaken up somehow, coming across as fresh and mostly rewarding. I will also say that many *famous figures* make their way into this book. At first I was a bit shocked and thought my sensibilities of "heard it all before, seen it all before" would fight against some of it. Then, I thought it would transform into it's own The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. Nope. I was wrong on both counts. When I was a teen I didn't like when modern authors pulled famous figures into their fiction, whether it be real life historical figures or household name-author's famous creations. ESPECIALLY if it were the writers themselves - oooh, how I hated that! Nowadays, I actually enjoy it, sorta like the LXG, as already mentioned. Lavie Tidhar has set up a perfectly understandable reason for the existence of these prominent literary figures, though, like a good neighbor should, he doesn't over-explain or gossip every point into the ground. Further thoughts I had while reading The Bookman:I reminisced about lost loves while reading this, was reminded of the worlds of Jules Verne, H.G. Wells, Daniel Dafoe, Robert Louis Stevenson, and Arthur Conan Doyle, thought about the future and was constantly reminded of my deep love for collecting books every step of the way. I was even reminded of a few scenes from Ridley Scott's Blade Runner ~ in the beginning, middle and end. But NOTHING was a rip-off. Originality is an over-rated thing to me. However. There is a great deal of originality mixed in with the very familiar elements I would think would appeal to many readers. Anyone who likes any of the things I've referenced to should check it out. At the very least, you will be entertained. For me, I now have a new favorite author and a new favorite book and excitedly look forward to reading the entire series. My highest recommendation!!!!!*Though chances are you are already familiar with this book cover, if you're not, check it out. It's by British artist, David Frankland , and is a truly marvelous piece of eye candy!**Just announced, the Japanese edition will be available soon. Check out the cool cover for it! You can order it from Amazon Japan here:

  • Miriam
    2018-11-04 09:00

    And so, not worrying about selling, not worrying about markets-- all the things I was doing with my aborted trilogy-- I began writing The Bookman.For fun.It would have all the things I love, I decided. Automatons and airships, poetry and magic, the underworld, and the London sewers. It would have chases and escapes! And a quest, of sort, done for love.And so I wrote it. Like my hero, Orphan, I did it for love. And I had fun doing it…It was the sort of book I could research by drinking in pubs. Old pubs. Old pubs that made it into the book! Great research!Why can't I get a research gig like that?!Tidhar is right, this book IS a ton of fun. And he didn't even mention Jules Verne and Lizard Queen Victoria and whales andOkay, this was full of stuff I loved. I get why it isn't better known, because if you haven't read any of the books he's referencing and don't know much history then you end up missing a lot, especially the humor, although I think it would still be an enjoyable adventure novel. But definitely more strongly recommended for those with a grounding in Victorian (and some earlier) lit and history.

  • Richard Derus
    2018-10-23 06:09

    Rating: 3* of five The Publisher Says: A masked terrorist has brought London to its knees -- there are bombs inside books, and nobody knows which ones. On the day of the launch of the first expedition to Mars, by giant cannon, he outdoes himself with an audacious attack.For young poet Orphan, trapped in the screaming audience, it seems his destiny is entwined with that of the shadowy terrorist, but how? His quest to uncover the truth takes him from the hidden catacombs of London on the brink of revolution, through pirate-infested seas, to the mysterious island that may hold the secret to the origin not only of the shadowy Bookman, but of Orphan himself...Like a steam-powered take on V for Vendetta, rich with satire and slashed through with automatons, giant lizards, pirates, airships and wild adventure. The Bookman is the first of a series.File Under: Steampunk {Alternate History! | Reptilian Royalty! | Diabolical Anarchists! | Extraordinary Adventure!}Fair enough.My Review: It is a simple truism that it's easier to review a book you hated than one you loved, because snark and sarcasm are not difficult to pull off and sincerity is.I didn't hate this book, and I most certainly didn't love it. I was alternately amused by its cleverness and exasperated by its clever-clever overkill on the world-building front. Not infrequently both simultaneously.I wanted to like this. And I almost do. But there are simply too many things that rub my tender spots in a disagreeable way. I found the Parliament of Payne cheeky at first, then irksome, in their silly caperings at famous poets (eg, Oscar Wilde) and then their surveillance of Les Lezards. The existence of Les Lezards wore on me a lot faster than I thought it would, too. I know I've carried on about majgicqk and talking dragons and phantaissiee and its manifold mispelings and random capitalization sins, but I was counting on extraterrestriality to make Les Lezards work for me.Nope.And yet, while I'm far, far more conversant with loss than I'd like to be, I can still recognize and appreciate the experience of grief well-rendered into prose. Orphan's grief (view spoiler)[on losing his beloved Lucy, and his only parent-equivalent Gilgamesh (hide spoiler)] is well and accurately written, making his actions fall into a completely comprehensible pattern.But the clever-clever far outweighed this grace-note writing. Isabella Beeton, the cookbook writer, as an anarchist. Irene Adler, that all-purpose baddie in alt-Victoriana, in a return engagement in the role. Mycroft Holmes as a cross between M and Q from the Bond flicks (sort of). Prime Minister Moriarty. (Fiction + fact = faction?) A reference to Beerbohm Tree, for cryin' out loud! (Only reason I'd ever heard the name was being a theater fag in high school.) The map of London all flippied and damzeled about, which I sort of followed but not really; I suspect a Londoner or permaybehaps even just a Brit would get more out of these things than a mere colonial. Honestly, after a while I wanted to say, “dim down a notch, presh, we get know your just write me a goddam story.”Oh, whatever, it's just not there for me in this book, while it might be for you. I'd say this: Don't read past p124 if you're not flying in the door to finish where you left off.This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>

  • Megan Baxter
    2018-11-06 05:53

    For all the steampunk fantasy I've been recently, as well as traditional Western medieval fantasy, this was one that stood out as having its own voice, something to say about that genre, and that incorporated literature and intrigue in interesting ways. It's not a perfect book, but the voice of the author is strong, and I forgive the small faults because the overall ideas and characters are so interesting. Note: The rest of this review has been withdrawn due to the changes in Goodreads policy and enforcement. You can read why I came to this decision here.In the meantime, you can read the entire review at Smorgasbook

  • Terry
    2018-11-06 11:48

    2.5 – 3 starsI’m a bit torn about _The Bookman_. On the one hand it exemplifies a lot of the key elements of steampunk. One the other hand it exemplifies a lot of the key elements of steampunk. Maybe I should explain.I’m not quite sure where I stand in regards to steampunk as a genre. In many ways it seems to me less a genre than an excuse for cosplay on the one hand and fan fiction on the other. I mean once you get rid of the goggles and corsets, the airships and gears what have you really got? Oftentimes it is little more than a writer playing with his favourite Victorian era characters/settings in a mashed up version of penny-dreadful and video game. Now let me say that I love video games, and penny-dreadfuls can be a lot of fun, but I’m just uncertain how much all of the motley elements of steampunk really meld successfully into what I would consider a genre. That said…there’s a lot of cool in the idea of steampunk which is, I guess, why it’s become so popular. Ok, let’s move on._The Bookman_ has a lot going for it: an interesting alternate earth where a key event in the past has changed the course of human history (namely the discovery of Caliban’s Island where a previously unknown race of Lizard people (Les Lézards) are discovered who promptly take over the British Empire, turning it into their own world-spanning government); the introduction of a race of automatons of varied origins and types who play an interesting role in the overarching story of this world; a metric (or is that Imperial?) tonne of secondary characters and references pulled from the world of Victorian (and earlier/later) fiction and history. This last could also be listed as one of the things the book has that is *not* always going for it. While it is undoubtedly great fun to play ‘name that reference’ (it’s actually one of the most enjoyable aspects of the book), it can sometimes seem to verge on being a bit much (as a writer I think you have to be careful to make sure your easter eggs don’t counterbalance the actual story, even if they are a lot of fun). Definitely got a "League of Extraordinary Gentleman" and Wold-Newton universe vibe from this stuff. The greatest failing of the book for me, though, was the fact that the main character, Orphan, was an incredibly boring cypher. It seemed like all of his actions (those few times he did act as opposed to being pushed by circumstance or other characters) were merely the contrivance of the author to get him where he needed to be. Now granted that his mysterious and unknown background partially played into this aspect of his character and he *was* being overtly manipulated by other characters as part of the plot, so his lack of agency is perhaps understandable, but I still found him to be so uninteresting, really nothing more than a pair of eyes through which the reader could experience the author’s steampunk world, that I just couldn’t sustain any lasting interest in him. I also didn’t really buy his own personal motivations for following his quest, despite the fact that I kept being told how much he loved his lost girlfriend and wanted to reach for the remote possibility of bringing her back from the land of death. It’s weird, really. On the one hand it seems like the author wanted Orphan to be a non-traditional ‘hero’, something different (really the exact opposite) from the ready-for-action swashbuckling adventurer that the fictional inspirations for this book would have led us to expect, and yet on the other hand falls into making him simply fulfill a different stock role: the unexpected hero of low birth who discovers the secret of his true noble origins as he is thrust into the events of the wider world.Ok, a lot of harsh there along with some damning with faint praise I guess. This book still did have a lot going for it. There were many scenes that just came off really well and were lots of fun (Orphan’s discussion with the Turk and the character of Captain Wyvern are two that stand out for me). For the most part these episodes generally involved cool secondary characters (and alternate world versions of same) from the ‘name that reference’ game, or provided a springboard for a further expansion of Tidhar’s admittedly fascinating worldbuilding. The best of these moments for my money was the point at which Orphan gets to the mysterious island of Les Lézards. This was really quite cool. I got a really ‘Lost’ (the TV series) vibe from this episode and that, coupled with the revelations presented, helped to make Orphan’s quest seem more engaging (and even did a little to make Orphan himself a bit more interesting). When we get down to brass tacks, though, Orphan’s overall story just didn’t have the same shine for me as the ‘extra’ elements of the story did.All in all it was a fun book, but I’m still left with a sense of ambivalence about steampunk overall.

  • Brandon
    2018-11-20 12:48

    When I was a kid, there was this TV special that combined a lot of the more famous cartoon characters at the time. The special was used as a deterrent for kids to avoid drug and alcohol use. You had the likes of Alf, the Muppets and the Ninja Turtles teaming up with Bugs Bunny and others to stop a child from going down the wrong path. Seeing this "dream team" of characters all combined on one program blew my fragile little mind.The reason I bring this up is because Lavie Tidhar does something a little similar. No, it isn't a PSA deterring readers from mind altering substances - it also combines legendary historical figures and characters into one extremely interesting universe!At the center of this steam-punk inspired tale, we have Orphan, a young blossoming poet living in London. Following the unexpected murder of his girlfriend by the notorious terrorist, The Bookman, Orphan sets out on a journey that will lead him inThere's a lot to like about this book. For example, this is a debut novel and the writing is certainly representative of a much more experienced writer. Tidhar's world building is top-notch and you really feel a part of this universe he's created.As I said earlier, the mingling of historical figures and legendary characters is one of the best reasons to give this a shot. For example, you have Moriarty, Sherlock and Mycroft Holmes running around in the same universe as Karl Marx, Jules Verne and Nikola Tesla. You could certainly write this feature off as gimmicky or a cheap way to draw in readers but it held it's own. It definitely seemed integral and at no point created a distraction from the core story.The Bookman is the first in a trilogy and something I may consider a gateway drug into the world of steam punk. It also gives me a reason to check out more of what Angry Robot has to offer. If this publishing company is shooting out a regular stream of excellence like The Bookman, I've got a lot of reading to do.

  • colleen the convivial curmudgeon
    2018-11-03 14:04

    There are a lot of good ideas in this book, but, in a way, I think that's part of its problem. There are too many ideas, and it felt like the author just had to include them all.Set in an alt-reality Victorian England, where Victoria, and all the royalty, are Lizards from another planet (yes, boys and girls - meet the Reptilian Overlords), we enter this Steampunkish world which has, in a way, simply too much tech. Babbage Engines and Edison recorders and Tesla wires (radios) and submarines and rocket ships automatons with extremely advanced AI - the tech was so advanced that the little touches that reminded us we were "in the past", such as gas lights and landaus, seemed more anachronistic than not - and how strange for the period touches to seem to be the things that are out of place?In other words, it didn't have a very strong period feel, which is one of the things I like about Steampunk type books. So there's that.There was also the plethora - and I do mean plethora - of references to fictional and historical characters and books, many of which are mentioned in passing, and some of which are actual parts of the story. And while the Holmes fan in me enjoyed seeing that particular coterie of characters (and, no, that's not really a spoiler), they didn't add much to the story except passing pleasure in recognizing names and faces, so to speak. (It was almost like reading A Night in the Lonesome October by Zelazny, playing this game of "spot the reference". Unfortunately for me, I seemed to not get most of them.)Anyway - the real failing of the story, in my opinion, is that while Orphan is likable enough, he's not nearly proactive enough. Sometimes I don't mind a character thrown into situations above his head, and watching as he flounders to get his feet on the ground, but this time I did. Orphan was little more than a piece of driftwood tossed on the sea, sent this way and that, and even told that he's a pawn more than a few times, only to later get all indignant about "being used". Well, dear boy, they did, essentially, tell you you were being used and you went along with it anyway. Can you really get mad about it now?Not to mention that he gets knocked unconscious an awful lot. (At least five times that I remember.)He's sent this way and that, saved here and there, gets told bits of pieces of the mystery as he goes along, not really discovering anything for himself as all the plot-points are giving to us via exposition... and that "big reveal" was not only not surprising, it was eye-roll worthy in its clicheness.But, for all that, I didn't hate the story. The damndest thing, though, is that I can't really tell you why I didn't. I think it might be that particular joy I mentioned earlier, of recognizing certain names and faces, and seeing them in a different context, and playing the game, as it were. But the story itself didn't do much for me.A not terrible book, but a far from great one. I will not be reading the sequel.

  • Marcus
    2018-11-07 07:51

    Set in an alternative version of 19th century earth, with a point of divergence to our timeline sometime in the early 16th century, The Bookman is without a doubt the most enjoyable, fascinating and captivating book I have read in a long time. It has managed to claim the throne as my favorite steampunk novel from Moorcock’s A Nomad of the Time Streams.The Bookman is steampunk on multiple levels. Not only because of the plot and the world with its automatons, simulacra and the giant space cannon, it is also in itself an intricate work of art, very much like clockwork. The story’s depth is revealed piece by piece, gear by gear, during the entire length of the novel up until the end, which makes for a very exciting and captivating read.The reason for its ability to have constantly kept my attention is simple: Whenever I thought I finally understood what was going on and what motivations the protagonists had, another layer of the plot was revealed, another important detail added. This way, a number of theories about what was really going on were shattered and The Bookman kept on surprising me.It took me very much until the last chapter to piece all the details together, combine all the different gears and cogwheels to one beautiful apparatus, to grasp the full expanse of what was actually going on right from the start of the novel. Finally in the end I understood and was left with the images of a truly fascinating story and world in my mind.But it is not only the depth of the plot, its many twists and mysteries which kept me glued to its pages, it is also the cast of characters and the many striking details of the world, which make this book so enjoyable.Lavie Tidhar creates his own reality in which I, while following the main protagonist Orphan, met well known fictional characters and real historic people and sometimes the person and their fictional invention. Jules Verne plays a part in the story and is very much involved in the machinations of the novel’s namesake, the Bookman. He is accompanied by Robur and he takes Orphan on a ride on board the Nautilus and also The Nautilus.Others are only mentioned in conversation, like Dr. Marbuse, Lovecraft’s Herbert West, even Sherlock Holmes.Further real-world Victorian notables who play their part range from Karl Marx to Isabella Beeton.Books, rather unsurprisingly, in many ways also play a significant role in this novel. Books lead the way, books are powerful and books blur the borders of reality. There is a room where Orphan investigates a bookshelf stacked with books that feel strange to him. The titles on the shelf include The Grasshopper Lies Heavy, The Theory and Practice of Oligarchical Collectivism and De Vermis Mysteriis.Blurred reality, illusions and deceptions are recurring motifs in The Bookman. This too, adds to the fascination of this novel. After a while I knew that there would be another twist and another layer revealed, yet I could not say when this would happen and what impact it would have on the story and the development of the plot.However, it is only the reader and the characters who get deceived. The plot itself remains coherent; all the events which unfold make perfect sense and reveal the complete picture in the end.One final fascinating element of the novel I shall not go pass without mention is Lavie Tidhars use of mythology. Many elements of earth’s mythology, mostly from the ancient Near East, flow into the novel. Orphan also encounters a number characters who, for one reason or another, are in possession of acient secrets and long forgotten tales. Mentioned in the margins are surprising details of The Bookman’s version of earth and its history, which in combination create a whole new mythology with Les Lezards, The Bookman, The Binder and Orphan as the focal points and keystones.At the end of the novel, there are still many unanswered questions and some events to which the story has built up towards finally happen.Although the story of The Bookman is finished and Orphan has gained what he wanted, there are many things the sequel can latch onto.I am looking forward to the next chapter of this saga: Camera ObscuraSo, I can wholeheartedly recommend The Bookman to any and all Steamunks out there, it is one captivating read, set in a beautiful, strange world, not really like our own but also not too far removed.Get it, you won’t regret it!

  • Johnny
    2018-10-27 07:01

    Take authentic details from the Victorian and Edwardian Eras such as “The Turk,” the famous automaton chess player, activists like Isabella Beeton, the infamous (and apparently ubiquitous in this style of literature) Jack the Ripper, Tom Thumb of circus fame, and the works of literature by Wilde and Wordsworth, mix in ingredients as varied as Neil Gaiman’s tale of British royalty involved with Cthulhu, H. G. Wells’ Island of Doctor Moreau, Jules Vernes’ Nautilus and Mysterious Island, Stevenson’s Dr. Jekyll, early 20th century film maker Fritz Lang’s Dr. Mabuse, villains and heroes alike from the Holmes and Challenger canon, modern steampunk novelist James P. Blaylock’s Dr. Narbondo of Homunculus fame, and a mastermind notoriously reminiscent (at least in appearance) to one of Lewis Carroll’s mad creatures in the adventures of Alice, and then, stir thoroughly with a pinch of anarchism, revolution, and even traces of Marcus Rowland’s Fantastic Futures role-playing game. Voila! One has achieved a soufflé which may or may not rise successfully—a masterpiece if successful, a worthy experiment if a failure. The Bookman, alas, is somewhere in between. At times, I felt I was dining on dessert at a four-star restaurant. At other times, I felt I was struggling through sections that felt a bit like William Gibson’s admitted weakness with regard to the film “Johnny Mnemonic.” Gibson suggested to me in an interview just before the film’s release that this was likely the only chance to bring his universe to life in film so they were throwing everything possible into the movie. Gibson is brilliant. The movie was a disaster. Fortunately, in spite of portions of The Bookman seeming as though Tidhar was trying to inject as many of his cool ideas into the recipe as possible, the story was enjoyable to the end. If you tired of one conspiracy, there was always another. If you were bored by one literary reference, a half-dozen more were aspiring to take the former’s place. If you felt one character was particularly ineffective, there was another earth-shaking circumstance to allow said character to break out of his/her self-imposed cocoon. It’s a good thing because there are precious few scenes where the protagonist takes the world by the tail and destiny in hand. Rather, one feels like one is on a thrill ride at Brighton and only belatedly remembered to fasten the safety belt.Personally, I was much more interested in the story when events were occurring in conspiracy-laden London than when taking a Verne-induced excursion to The Tempest-inspired version of Verne’s Mysterious Island. I did like the tendency to give the reader false information through the protagonist. The double-crosses and unveiling of misinformation seemed fascinating. I just felt like there were too many plots with not enough resolution. In fact, I’m so dissatisfied with the conclusion of this book that I plan to read the sequel, Camera Obscura. I know, both the publisher (Angry Robot) and the author are asking where the sting could be in such irrational criticism. I wanted tighter plotting and a more even pacing. Since I can’t even please myself on that score with my own writing, what am I typing about?

  • Natalie
    2018-10-29 07:56

    An adventurous yet literary steampunkish tale. Here's what other goodreads reviewers who've fallen for this book have said . . . and I, for one,agree with 'em (mostly) Why? Because literary and historical references and persons abound, and the intricate plot continually surprises, fun stuff!But you are going to need to take along a few things to enjoy the journey. Here's what I recommend:An undergraduate or graduate degree in English literature or maybe just the The Oxford Companion to English LiteratureThe ability to visualize a chessboard and a chess game in progressParallel timelines of American, English, and French history from the Sixteenth Century to the presentAn encyclopedic memory of Sherlock Holmes casesAn Ordnance Survey map of LondonA book of quotationsA Bio of Jules Verne or the ability to visualize his life and timesThe Epic of GilgameshLyrical Ballads: William Wordsworth and S. T. Coleridge (or just the Lucy Poems and the The Rime of the Ancient Mariner)Karel Čapek's War with the Newts The Tempest The Hymns of Orpheusor if you are getting impatient, you could just watch the DisneyHercules:But most importantly, take along your sense of humor, the ability to suspend disbelief, and a few hours time for nothing but reading!If you read this far, you may be the first lucky reader to find out that I'm putting my copy of The Bookman up on swap! Get it while it's hot.

  • Jonfaith
    2018-10-31 08:15

    It was the freedom that comes from lack of choice and moreover, was the kind that only came with decisions delayed. It was a freedom of inaction.I was warned, but proceeded without caution. The word twee was employed by those doubtful of my enjoyment.and I agree. I'm sure this will be beans and toast for a large crowd, but not for me. My favorite section detailed the imaginary books featured not in the weird canon but elsewhere, such as Orwell's Goldstein. The need to incorporate every trope from classic fantastic literature was personally fatiguing, but, again, I am sure this architecture is necessary for the trilogy. Alas, I will Bartleby to the William James and refrain from the leap.

  • Milena Benini
    2018-11-08 06:50

    I should have been crazy about this book. It's a steampunk book set in Victorian London in which queen Victoria is a lizard, Moriarty is the Prime Minister, lord Byron is an automaton giving readings, and the main character -- Orphan -- is friends with an old guy called Gilgamesh. There are also whales in the Thames, and Jules Verne makes an appearance later on. Also, the London in question is a grimy place where machines produce grit and pollute the air, and a bunch of weirdoes plotting an uprising in a bookstore includes a nice German guy named Karl recognizable by his big white beard. Not to mention a group of terrorist clowns who disturb poets in their work and open the book by attacking Oscar Wilde, or the Bookman himself, a terrorist who kills with exploding books. Sounds wonderful, doesn't it?And yet. And yet, many of the elements feel as if they're there only because Lavie Tidhar knows how to do steampunk -- although not necessarily what to do with steampunk. The story never really takes off, and the main character ambles through it with no particularly good reason. This is the beginning of a series, and I am willing to wait and see whether things will start meshing better in the next book, but, unfortunately, The Bookman did not live up to the promise of the first chapters. Also (and that may be just me), the treatment of the few-and-far-between female characters left a lot to be desired.

  • Nikki
    2018-11-01 06:07

    Not sure what to make of this. It reminds me of a lot of other steampunk I've read, it's fun enough as a diversion, it was an easy and a quick read... it just didn't work for me, somehow. The patchwork quilt of literary and historical references, the rather perfunctory love story, heck, the rather perfunctory main character...There's a lot of fun to be had here, in the adventure plot and the wild sequence of ideas, but it's not something I could really take seriously, somehow. I was reminded a lot of my thoughts on Stephen Hunt's work.

  • Gregor Xane
    2018-11-09 09:50

    Although there were plenty of cool things going on in this book (a lot of things I liked quite a bit), and plenty of action scenes, I was never truly swept up in the adventure. I'm not sure why. Perhaps it's because the protagonist was more of a puppet than a character with any real agency. I do understand this fit thematically (chess, pawns, etc.), but it still may have contributed to my lack of investment. Will I read the next book in the series? Perhaps.

  • Ben Babcock
    2018-11-15 09:15

    I’m hesitant about proclaiming love for historical fiction. To me it’s just a genre that can be so hard to get right. Take too many liberties, and it’s not really historical any more, is it? But don’t take enough liberties, try to follow the actual course of history (as best we know it) too slavishly, and then it’s not really fiction…. The best historical fiction is the kind that follows the main narrative but tries to give the reader a glimpse at the people behind the dates and events, makes them come alive and gives us a sense of their emotions and motivations.The Bookman concerns, obviously, the Bookman, that strange and mysterious terrorist who plagued Britain at the turn of the century. The story starts at the height of the Bookman’s reign of terror and continues through to the riots and uprising that eventually led to the devolution of royal powers to the reformed parliament. Throughout this backdrop of one of the Everlasting Empire’s most well-documented crises, Tidhar weaves the story of Orphan.Unlike the majority of the cast of the book, Orphan himself is fictional—though he’s inspired by some of the rumours contemporary to the Bookman and the riots. Tidhar seizes on the “Return of the King” myth that one of the descendants of the last human monarch of Great Britain is somehow alive and has returned, at that moment, to retake the throne. He moulds this heir not into a prince trained in the art of statecraft and warfare but a street urchin, a poet fallen in with revolutionaries and in love.In this respect, The Bookman is more a romantic adventure set against the backdrop of the Bookman crisis. Tidhar posits that if Orphan existed, than the Bookman would have known about him and tried to use him in the plot to take down Les Lézards. As the launch of the Martian probe draws closer, the Bookman traps Orphan and uses him as a pawn in a much longer game.If you’re really into a naive young protagonist stumbling his way through an adventure mostly on luck and perseverance rather than any skill or intelligence, then you won’t have much to complain about here. Orphan isn’t exactly an outstanding or even memorable character, and that’s a shame. What’s worse, though, is that he’s practically the only interesting or well-realized character in the book. I don’t get it: Tidhar is writing in one of the most exciting time periods, with brilliant personalities like Irene Adler, Prime Minister Moriarty, and simulacrum Lord Byron … yet he uses them as little more than instruments of exposition.Tidhar’s pale imitations of these historical juggernauts poke, prod, and otherwise shepherd Orphan through the required hoops of his adventure. This includes an all-too-brief side quest to become a pirate under the infamous Captain Wyvern. Yet again, though, Wyvern is a historical personality who graces the book for but a few pages, largely serving as a way for Orphan to finally make it to Caliban’s Island.It must be a heady sensation, realizing as you’re reading up and researching a time period the number of famous people you might be able to include in your book. (I should note that Tidhar takes a few liberties here—by the time Adler is as prominent a detective as she is here, Mycroft has already retired from the civil service. And although Orphan’s meeting with the simulacrum Lord Byron is fun, I’m pretty sure he was on the Continent during most of the time this book takes place.) But if you include everyone in a tangential capacity, you won’t have time to develop any of them in much detail. And I don’t want to harp on this point too much; I’m just so disappointed, because Tidhar’s writing is beautiful. I love his dialogue, his description, and his action sequences. I just didn’t fall in love with the plot or the way it uses its characters.Tidhar also does a great job portraying the political climate of that era from the perspective of an impoverished but somewhat educated person like Orphan. Whistle-stop tour of personalities aside, The Bookman captures a lot of the big issues of the day: the struggle for equal rights for automata and simulacra; the tension between advocates for free speech and loyalists to Les Lézards; the sense of unbounded scientific and technological progress, as seen in the Martian probe experiments. When you think back to the later reign of Queen Victoria and the Bookman, these are probably the sorts of things you think about.Victoria was, of course, probably the Last of the Great Lizard Monarchs of our Everlasting Empire. Historians are still split on how they judge her decision to restore peace and promote stability by relinquishing some of her authority. Personally, I fall in with those who think she did the best thing, given the circumstances. In the long view of history, Les Lézards’ numbers were always the issue: it was either devolution or a truly bloody rebellion before her reign was out. And these days, old Lizard Lizzie isn’t that bad, eh? Long may she reign!The Bookman is a serviceable, if not particularly amazing, adventure set at the turn of the century, in the last days of the absolute monarchy. Books themselves as booby traps. An heir to the throne on the loose in the streets of London. Pirates, submarines, hot-air balloons, and a mysterious island … it really is like something out of the science fiction of the time. I’ll give Tidhar his due: Verne would be proud. In the end, it’s not necessarily what I’m looking for when I read historical fiction, but it comes pretty close. Next time I might look for some alternate history, like one of those series set in a world where the Lizards never took the throne.

  • Karissa
    2018-11-19 12:10

    I read the 2nd book in the Bookman Histories, Camera Obscura, last year and really enjoyed it. I was excited to go back and read the book that started it all. Unfortunately this book was just okay for me; I had trouble engaging with the characters and the story just seemed to drag on and on.I listened to this on audiobook which I do not recommend. The narrator distinguished between voices of different characters well, but his choices for voices were often shrill and obnoxious. There were character voices in the book that made me flinch with their shrillness. Definitely don’t listen to this on audiobook.This book tells the story of Orphen. He is a poet who wants nothing more than to live our his life with his beloved Lucy. When Lucy is murdered by the terrorist The Bookman, Orphen goes on a quest of revenge. He will either get Lucy back, kill the Bookman, or die trying. Unfortunately for Orphen he becomes deeply embroiled in a plot full of alien lizard races and automatons.As with Camera Obscura, I enjoyed the wonderfully creative world here. The British Empire is run by a lizard race, automatons are struggling for their rights, and the Bookman seems to have eyes and agents everywhere. Unfortunately since I was introduced to this world in Camera Obscura, while I still enjoyed it, some of the novelty had worn off for me. I had a lot of trouble engaging with Orphen. His is kind of whiny and weak as a character; he is a poet at heart and spends a lot of time whining about loosing Lucy. He wants to take action but is continually swept up in events that are bigger than he is. By his own omission for most of the book he is a pawn.The majority of the storyline revolves around political struggles between the lizard folk, the Bookman, the Automatons, and the British people. If you like politics you may really enjoy this. I personally am not big on politically focused books and constantly had trouble staying engaged in the story.The story takes many side trips along the way. You may find yourself suddenly emerged in a history of this or that when you thought you were on an adventure to a different locale. This lead to the storyline being somewhat ambiguous and convoluted. I was listening to this and constantly found my mind wandering and missing parts of the story because I just couldn’t stay interested in what was going on.As I said the writing wanders a bit and the pacing is slow. There is some wonderful descriptive writing throughout though and the dark and bleak environments really come alive. There is an oddly heavy science fiction element to this steampunk story as well.Overall an okay book. The world is wondrous and creative and the descriptions very well done. The main character of Orphan was a weak one though and I had trouble staying engaged. The story was ambiguous at times and wandered quite a bit, again I had trouble staying focused on what was going on at points because I just didn’t care. The story was very political in nature, which I don’t care much for. If you love steampunk stories and are interested in a politically motivated steampunk story that is a bit ambiguous you might like this book. Personally I would recommend Cherie Priest’s Clockwork Century series over this one.

  • Stephen Winterflood
    2018-11-02 12:52

    Steampunk is a genre tag that is very popular with publishers, and also apparently readers, so they love to slap it on any fantasy that is set around the Victorian period. Most of these books don’t fit the title as they don’t feature any punk aspects to them. The Bookman is a Steampunk novel in the true sense of the word as it literally features punks within its story, although this might be we suspect a wink towards said genre title.The other aspect of punk, the underclass rebellious society is also well present in the tale, as everyone is an underclass to Les Lézards, the rulers of our England in this time. The story follows the adventures of Orphan and his search for the mysterious Bookman, and is a globetrotting affair that certainly gives us a great variety of locations within this first novel in the series.The author skilfully blends fictitious and real people within the story to weave a tale that is a strange alternate history. The likes of Mrs Beeton and Moriaty rub shoulders in this unreal London and set up a world that is intriguing to explore. The world maintains a slim feasibility to it and the writer knows his way about town. The only black mark I would put on the novel are the two occurrences of when lists are used in chapters. We have the first when the main character proceeds through the streets and we are given a few pages going through all the stall holders he encounters and them shouting about what they are selling. The second list is when the same character is looking at a bookshelf and we get a long list of the book titles, I lost interest in this after a couple of pages, and both of these situations could have been maybe dealt with in a trimmed fashion, as they got a bit repetitive.So the Bookman is an entertaining read that establishes a rich world of the real and fictitious, allowing us to journey within and be entertained… oh and it also features punks, so yes it is a Steampunk novel.

  • Andrew
    2018-11-01 11:58

    This book I picked up (along with the other two in the Bookman series) was a gamble - partly because the cover looked interesting and partly from the sheer scope and audacity of the preface of the story. Well what did I think - okay I can say that there are a lot of comments and opinions about this books and the series in general and so far I can see reasons for most of them. yes the story does shift gears from fast to slow in stages to the point where you find yourself dragging through pages of nothing much (where I guess the involved storyline needs to be explained and nudged along) to pages of blistering action and mayhem.For me I didn't really mind either but what I did mind was that it felt that the main protagonist had not got a clue what was going on. he seemed to stumbled from one situation to another - nearly all of which he was propelled to by one group or character or another - it felt like at times he was little more than the ball in one giant pinball game. Don't get me wrong we as the "viewers" had to be able to have the story unfold in front of us so in one way we learnt what was going on at the same time as Orphan was. However a little initiative and ability on his part would have been good. It felt at times as though he was one long victim to it all. That said it may have been partly my own fault having read this right after finishing another book where the drives, motives and reasons for the story were clear and simply laid out you were just along for the ride. All I can say is even through all of this I will read the others in the series and see if all the characters suffer the same confusing fate or if this is corrected in later instalments.

  • Sam
    2018-11-02 12:52

    In all, I don't think this was a bad read. It was a bit confusing at times, and I was a bit confused as to why there were lizards everywhere, but it seems like it's an ode to the love of books. I liked the name dropping of famous authors and iconic characters, and there's some flip flopping of roles of those characters. You'll appreciate the Robert Louis Stevenson nod, the dig at Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, and other classical authors.

  • Tony
    2018-11-06 12:57

    This is yet another great release from Angry Robot Books. It was purchased for the price of 99p from Amazon UK. That is less that a cup of coffee, less even than a vote for Britain’s got “talent”. This book is so cheap I almost feel guilty.Lavie Tidhar is an interesting person to follow on Twitter, or to read short stories by. I don’t always agree with what he says, but he is nearly always thought provoking.This book is different from all the other Angry Robot books I have read so far. Normally there is a really high pace throughout the story. I don’t think that would have worked with this one. There is a lot going on, and I barely realised I was at the end until I got there. Most of the threads were tied off so nicely, and those that were not seemed to be deliberately so. I am going to have to read Camera Obscura and I am looking forward to it. I found the structure of this book delightful (can’t believe I said that, but it is true). I love the excerpt from famous works that heads each chapter, and provides an insight into what it contains. There are many literary quotes scattered throughout this piece that show the author has a deep and extensive collection of reading materials.David Icke. There I said it. I can’t help it. I can’t help thinking that this book may actually be deliberately poking fun at the idea of the royal family being 4th dimensional lizards as part of a Jewish New World Order Conspiracy. At least in my mind that is what political scientists and literature lecturers will be saying in fifty years. It is cleverly done, and made into a serious Steampunk novel. Although Lizardpunk may be closer to the mark. The main protagonist has no idea what is going on for the entire novel, which is easy for me to relate to. More importantly, it is not obvious to the reader exactly what is going on to start with. I found the intensity of the book made this a bit of a slog around the half-way point, but it added so much to the story moving forward. The villain? Well that is an interesting point. There is not a defined villain as such, more a collection of different factions that desire vastly differing outcomes. It is a lot more like real life that a classic good vs evil battle.There is not a great big cinematic over-the-top ending to this story. The ending fits the writing style, and makes sure you want to read the sequel. It requires a lot of brain power to process this book without coming across as pretentious or overly high-minded.As usual the Robot Overlords have included extras at the end of this book. A goodly portion of Camera Obscura to aid the brainwashing, er, I mean subtle advertising for the next book in the series. I had to start reading something else straight away to stop me buying the next one on the spot.This book is subtle and clever and enjoyable to read for anyone who like Steampunk or fiction that makes you think. Oh and it has robots in it.I should also point out that I have just seen the cover for the third book in the series and it is War of the Worlds stunning.

  • Gef
    2018-11-21 12:04

    To put it plainly, this novel offers a smorgasbord of steampunk goodness. Zeppelins, automatons, floating islands, cannon-fired space flight, lizard people, and a countless array of literary cameos from the Victorian and Edwardian eras. Oh, and somewhere in all that there is a sweeping adventure.Orphan is a young poet, hopelessly in love with Lucy, who is set to take part in the launching ceremony of the first venture in unmanned spaceflight. But, a notorious terrorist known only as the Bookman sabotages the launch, killing Lucy and others in the process. From there, Orphan finds himself recruited to track down the Bookman and stop him before he does even more harm.The story is set in an alternate universe in which real life figures from history, such as Karl Marx and Jack the Ripper, share the stage intermittently with authors of the time, like Jules Verne and Rudyard Kipling, as well as famed literary characters, such as Sherlock Holmes and Moriarty (who is the British Prime Minister). It's a kind of kaleidoscope effect that dazzles the reader, but also serves as a distraction from what I feel is a rather riding-the-rails storyline.Orphan is a kind of chosen character, the type of "you're our only hope, Obi Wan!" kind of hero. But, if you watch his actions through the story, you might notice that he isn't chasing after his goals so much as he's being batted about Tidhar's universe like a ping pong ball, being pushed along from one discovery to the next. It was a kind of Alice in Wonderland effect, in my opinion. It didn't feel like it as I was reading, but when I finished the book I thought back and wondered, what exactly did Orphan do besides play someone else's pawn, pushed across the board as if someone was prodding his back with a stick?Perhaps, an early scene in which Orphan plays chess with "the Turk" is meant to act as a prelude to his adventure and the role he plays in it.It is a remarkably elaborate plot, considering the cast of characters and cameos, and the numerous twists did entertain me, but ultimately it felt less impactful because of Orphan seemingly being led along by a leash through much of the story.There is a sequel in the works called Camera Obscura, which apparently picks up where The Bookman very neatly leaves off, so I'll be looking forward to reading that and seeing if I might better appreciate a book heralded as one of the best steampunk novels to be published in the last few years.

  • Cathy
    2018-10-31 10:12

    3.5 stars. I went in prepared to give it the benefit of the doubt because I'd read a bit of the author's short fiction and knew he was both very creative and also capable of writing things that could be very touching. And I'd read some really stellar reviews of his books, this one included. Which was good that I was prepared to give it some time because it started off really weird. Alice in Wonderland weird, with all kinds of historical and literary references and talking lizards ruling England and travel to Mars and what sounded like a lot of anachronisms and just really odd and confusing stuff. Intriguing but odd, so that it was hard to tell what time period it was, maybe what planet it was, just what was going on at all. The main character's father was a Vespuccian sailor, his skin is copper red (which sounded inhuman red to me at the time), the Queen is lizard, his friends are Gilgamesh and Tom Thumb, Moriarty is the Prime Minister, there are whales in the harbor, it felt quite unreal. I thought it could be a video game or a Tad Williams/Otherland kind of thing maybe for a while. But it didn't take long to settle down into a story that did make sense, though the literary and historical mash-up just kept on coming. If you like trying to spot famous references then you'll have fun with this one. I'm sure I missed many, Victorian lit and history isn't my strongest area but I got quite a lot of them. The adventure was fun and interesting, not one I'd say everyone has to rush out and read just on the merits of how thrilling the young man's journey is on it's own, but combined with the charm of the rest of the concept it was a clever and enjoyable book all around. The central idea of the Bookman is one that I won't forget, that mysterious character acting from the shadows. Good guy or bad, you be the judge. So if you can handle a story with Karl Marx, Jules Verne, and Byron (sort of), running around with the Holmes brothers and Irene Adler without any explanation of how that's possible then this could be a good story for you to try.

  • Liviu
    2018-11-13 06:55

    Just finished this novel and it's superb; a cross of steampunk/lizard invasion a la Turtledove/Victoriana with a London cca 1890-1900 where Professor Moriarty (that one) is Prime Minister at the court of the Calibanic Kings - Queen Victoria is now from the lizard race - who were discovered/revived by Amerigo Vespucci on his return voyage from "Vespucciana" (ie America) which "today" is still a land of the indigenous people with some colonists, and whom took power in England aka The Everlasting Empire with William Shakespeare the first poet Prime MinisterJules Verne is a notable writer/adventurer who is in search of the Lizards mythical home island (his account of the first search is called "The Mysterious Island" of course), Mycroft Holmes is head of some secret service bureau employing the famous but assumed mythical "black ships" , Sherlock Holmes is in a comma after a fall in Switzerland that seems connected with the PM, Irene Adler (that one too) is a new CI of Scotland Yard in charge with the investigation of mysterious book bombs, automatons including one as Lord Byron are lifelike and impersonate humans, Oscar Wilde is still (in) famous for his social life and two new writers, the patriotic R. Kipling and futurist HG Wells appear as cameos If the above would not make you read this, nothing will so to speak...Lots more cameos including Karl Marx plotting revolution Just big time fun and the start of very promising series; the novel is complete as it stands but I definitely want more in its universe

  • Woodge
    2018-10-27 13:52

    This was such an odd tale, by turns strange, chock-full of literary references, and compelling. The setting is an alternative Victorian London in which sentient lizards from a mysterious island have taken over the crown, automatons are commonplace, and the title character is a terrorist using books as bombs. The protagonist is the oddly named Orphan who loses his lover to one of the Bookman's bombs and sets off to find the elusive character. It's a strange trip filled with characters borrowed from other literary works. Moriarty is the Prime Minister, Irene Adler runs Scotland Yard, and Jules Verne, Karl Marx and others also show up. It's nearly a game to see how many references you can spot. But Orphan is not the most compelling protagonist. He is more like a focal point around which the bizarre story plays out and often seems little more than a pawn in the various plot machinations. It gets confusing at times but remains oddly compelling. The writing style is also unique (in a good way). I kept reading just to find out where the whole crazy story was leading. It's not a typical steampunk adventure, yet that is where you'd file this under. I'm very curious to see where the author goes with the next book set in this world (Camera Obscura) which has an entirely new set of characters (for the most part) and occurs three years after the events in this tale. (I'd really give this 3 1/2 stars if possible.)

  • Sonja P.
    2018-11-18 12:10

    Judge a book by its cover: This book is going to be exciting and awesome. Look at the airship, and the people running or fighting, or something. Its just a really cool cover. I like the silhouettes and the lighting, and it just makes me want to read this book. I wanted to like this, because hey, its a steampunk book with lots of literary characters, where some of the main conflict is about books. Yay! But it just never hit home for me. Instead of a book like Thursday Next, where literary characters become fleshed out and become their own personalities, this felt more like literary name dropping. It felt like a game of how many names can I fit in that you can recognize in this book? I didn't think they were really fleshed out, and at first I was excited, but then it just got frustrating. On top of that, it just bored me. The action was odd, and I never connected to the main character. It felt a little aimless at first, and it just felt like slogging through mud. The end picked up, but honestly, I still didn't enjoy it. It just felt boring and like the author was trying to hard for something. Either way, it didn't connect for me, and I didn't really enjoy this, which was so disappointing. If you're looking for a good steampunk book, I would definitely check elsewhere, like Cherie Priest or Catherine Fisher.

  • Barry Huddleston
    2018-10-26 09:00

    Need a taste of some steampunk goodness? Try "The Bookman" by Lavie Tidhar.Imagine a Victorian England with blimps dotting the sky, Automatons roaming the streets, and brushing elbows with legends from historical fact and fiction. That, and reptilian royalty, is the background for "The Bookman." The story is very much what you will find in classical heroic fiction. Our Arthurian-like protagonist, by the name of Orphan, is propelled into the mystery while seeking revenge for the murder of his girlfriend. Like a Greek mythological character, Orphan finds himself a pawn used by others in a complex power play.I really enjoyed the novel. The story is a complex tale with a fast pace. Come on people --- it even has pirates! How cool is that!I give it a solid 5 out of 5 stars and I look forward to the sequel.Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Angry Robot Books. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

  • Stacia
    2018-11-03 11:16

    Probably 2.5 stars....I really wanted to like this book, I promise. Yet, I just didn't really care that much about it. (I'm actually kind of surprised I finished it.)"The Bookman" has some of the fun elements of steampunk, many neat references to literature, & plenty of action (each chapter ending in a little cliff-hanger). However, the story is a hot mess -- hard to follow, many rabbit trails that lead nowhere, & a protagonist that stumbles through the entire book as a 'pawn', unaware of what's going on. That's a problem, somewhat, because the reader also stumbles along, unaware of what's going on -- the plotting is just too directionless, imo. And, it gives a rather lukewarm feeling about the protagonist -- I just didn't care that much about him or his adventures.If the author had ditched half of the 'cool' mentions of things related to Victoriana/steampunk, tightened the plot & characterization, I think he would have had a fabulous book. But, he didn't, so what could have been fabulous is, at best, mediocre. I'm disappointed.

  • Derek
    2018-11-15 10:14

    Somewhere before the midpoint, the story's literary and historical Easter eggs become an actual distraction, and every name and title becomes a temptation for a look up on Google. Many of them (_The Book of Three_, Princess Irulan, Kilgore Trout) are not appropriate to the genre or nominal historical period and this comes off as too witty by half. When done well--as the offhand mention to Doctors "Jekyll, Narbondo, Mabuse, Moreau, West" (p. 106), this is good, intelligent stuff. But not to the extent that Tidhar abuses the conceit. There's a point where Orphan is rummaging around a book warehouse and Tidhar makes an effort to enumerate what is within--about a full page of fictional book titles--and it's a game of "name that reference".And based on the number of times that Harry Flashman's name is dropped in various contexts, George MacDonald Fraser deserves a special mention in the dedication, at least.