May 1, 2012

Reread: Merchant Princes

The Merchant Prince Series
Charles Stross
Science Fiction/Series
To Buy (Book One) Amazon - Barnes & Noble

I hate to continue writing posts few and far between, about books that really aren't that great.....but I just finished the first two books in The Merchant Prince Series by Charles Stross, and I'm just jumping back into a reading-all-the-time phase (so look for some more reviews coming up soon).

This is the second time I have started this series: once about five years ago (on a recommendation from my mother, who was recommended by a friend), and I got through book three, The Clan Corporate; and started them again last week, reading through books one and two, The Family Trade and The Hidden Family, respectively. 

The books have an interesting premise - a family who is genetically exclusive to a world walking ability that our main character happens to stumble upon early in the first book: The Family Trade. I admit, the first book captivated me, but finished with too many loose ends (as they do when it's part of a series eh?). The second book, however, tied up nearly every plot point that interested me from book one, so I feel no real desire to continue reading (in fact, I don't even remember what the third book is about from my first reading...everything I remembered about the books was from books one and two). 

The story starts in crisis, as many thrillers do, where Miriam Beckstein stumbles onto a corporate money laundering mess that gets her fired and on the run. Her mother then chooses this critical moment to pass down relics from her 'real' mother (Miriam was adopted), including a strange locket that she will soon find out is a passport to another world. What she doesn't know, is that there is a sophisticated mob of her own blood family members in that world, who end up kidnapping her and introducing her to the family. 

Miriam realizes that this new world is medieval in much of the politics and technologies, and she hopes to wean her aggressive family members off the drug circuit in her world, and onto pursuits of making a profit from advancing the new world into modern civilization. I assume this is what the rest of the six book series is about (book two adds many juicy details a plot twists, adding a convenient intermediate third world), though the writing didn't urge me to keep reading. 

To me, the story started to get dry with the backdrop of Miriam having to convince her drug cartel family members to drop the drug trade and invest in something more worthwhile. Though the conversation was varied, it seemed like getting their approval was all  Miriam thought about and talked about with all of the characters. She is a very driven person, and always seemed to know exactly what to do - this means either she was much more clear headed and logically thinking that I am, or that this woman was created in the mind of a man. Also, the politics and genetics of the family was explained to death, which I mostly skipped a reader, all I cared about was which characters were able to world walk and which weren't, not particularly why

Basically, these are good books if you are looking for something to entertain you and make your mind work around inter-galactic phenomena. We all, at some point, hope to find a good long series of books we can really latch onto, because lets face it, it can be very difficult to find a good book these days. This series may be that for you, it just wasn't for me. Then again, as I said - I read them once and they were always in the back of my mind, had to read them again to scratch the itch of half-memories. 

Have any of you read this series? Am I missing much by stopping at two? Please let me know!

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