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Expendable Mudge Muses Aloud

The Bookman (The Bookman Histories #1) - Lavie Tidhar Rating: 3* of five The Book Report: Why have I been trying to do these myself? The book description from Amazon 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 on losing his beloved Lucy, and his only parent-equivalent Gilgamesh 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 it...you know your onions...now 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.