Book Review – The Merchant Princes series

This fantasy fiction series by Charles Stross spans 6 books about a family of dimension travelling couriers, in worlds where no-one else can travel across dimensions.

I’m quite a fan of Charles Stross, his book “Halting State” re-introduced me to the concepts of Alternate Reality games, and played to my deep love of the cyberpunk genre, and “The Laundry” series (currently “The Jennifer Morgue” and “The Atrocity Archives”, although another is just about to be released) which is like a cross between the horror/thriller TV Series “Ultraviolet” and the geeky series “The IT Crowd” has enough in-jokes from both genres to make it work, so I’d put off venturing into “The Merchant Princes” series for a couple of years on the grounds that it wasn’t really something I thought would work.

After reading a recent blog post by Charles, I thought I’d give it a whirl, and borrowed the first from my local library. I loved it and consumed it in two nights, and started requesting the rest of the series, hitting only a slight bump with the fourth book, which wasn’t available directly within my local authority’s library service, so I waited a week or so for them to order it in, and then I finished off the series within a week-and-a-half.

The first three books line up brilliantly, setting the scene for, sadly, what turned out to be a damp squib.

By the time we got to the fifth book, the plot twists were practically being telegraphed pages in advance and the last book seemed like Charles had run out of ideas, and wanted to just get it over and done with.

There was so much promise from the first three books, and the introduction of the “empty” world could have produced so much other potential, it was such a shame and I’m really upset that it didn’t go the way I was hoping. It felt like at least another book, if not another series was due after “The Trade Of Queens”.

I’m still looking forward to the next “Laundry” novel, and I’m eagerly awaiting “Rule 34” the follow-up to “Halting State”, but unless I’m really stuck for a book to read, I’ll probably not be following up on any potential sequels to “The Merchant Princes”

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