Review: Fiendish Schemes by K.W. Jeter


Publisher: Tor
Publishing Date: October 2013
ISBN: 9780765330949
Genre: Fantasy/Steampunk
Rating: 2.5/5.0

Publisher Description: After accepting congratulations for his late father’s grandest invention—a walking, steam-powered lighthouse—Dower is enticed by the prospect of financial gain into a web of intrigue with ominously mysterious players who have nefarious plans of which he can only guess.

If he can locate and make his father’s Vox Universalis work as it was intended, his future, he is promised, is assured.

Review: This started off at a really good pace, with some internal commentary by Dower that, while acerbic, is funny none the less. As you move through the novel, this internal dialogue is lengthy and flowery, and his conversations with others gets very long and maudlin.

So here is the son of a great inventor, that has lost everything and finds himself in a rundown hotel on the coast, contemplating suicide to the point where he actually attempts it. As the novel launches into full scale mode, he is constantly threatened with violence/death and quails at the prospect. The only thing that keeps him in this earthly realm is the chance at riches. Dower is continually surprised at everything in London and has a real Victorian perspective where matters “steam” are concerned. Pretty weak story line/premise to base a novel upon. The cover art is really good. I like the gun and the depiction of the Iron Maiden.

I only laughed once or twice. The author got a little too verbose with long-drawn out scenes based on conflicted diatribe between Dower and Stonebrake, Dower and Dower (internal) and Dower and everyone else. This verbal fencing, while inventive, tends to pale after awhile. The schemes he finds himself in by the creation of others is a weak manufacture. Walking lighthouses, ocean currents, trade route betting, talking with whales, steam overthrow and back to coal. And in the midst of this, a raping steam powered orangutan robot. How about no.

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