Go Back   Alternate History Discussion Board > Discussion > Alternate History Books and Media

Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
  #1  
Old February 27th, 2004, 06:18 AM
fortyseven fortyseven is offline
Mastermind
 
Join Date: Jan 2004
Location: Empire of the True North
Posts: 1000 or more
The Light Ages

The Light Ages
by Ian R. MacLeod

From amazon.com:

Editorial Reviews
From Publishers Weekly
Several hundred years ago a magical substance known as aether was discovered in England, and it changed the world in this beautifully written, complex fantasy novel, British author MacLeod's second (after the underrated The Great Wheel). Kings were overthrown. Aether-based industries flourished. Now, near the end of the Third Age of Industry (roughly the equivalent of our Victorian Age), great Guilds run the nation. Powerful captains of industry live like nobility, while the impoverished masses risk their lives mining, refining and working with the dangerous substance that supports the economy. Cracks are beginning to show in society, however. The poor are getting poorer. Quality workmanship is hard to find. Those who come into too much contact with aether often mutate into sometimes monstrous creatures called changelings. Worse still, there are dark rumors that the aether may be running out. The narrator, Robert Borrows, who rises from near-poverty as the son of a humble guildsman, falls in love with a changeling, participates in the revolution that brings the Third Age to its end and winds up among the masters of the new world that rises out of its ruins. With its strong character development and gritty, alternate London, this book won't attract fans of Robert Jordan or Terry Goodkind, but should hold great appeal to readers who love the more sophisticated fantasy of Michael Swanwick, John Crowley or even China Mieville.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Anyone read it? Liked it?
Reply With Quote
  #2  
Old February 27th, 2004, 06:23 AM
Prunesquallor Prunesquallor is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2004
Posts: 841
Read it, believe I finished it, have forgotten all else. This is not hopeful. I think there's a sequel coming out- but I won't bother.
Reply With Quote
  #3  
Old July 22nd, 2005, 07:33 AM
fortyseven fortyseven is offline
Mastermind
 
Join Date: Jan 2004
Location: Empire of the True North
Posts: 1000 or more
Reading it. Enjoying it.
__________________
Populus consociatus numquam exardescetur.

The City of a Thousand and One Names
Reply With Quote
  #4  
Old July 22nd, 2005, 10:24 AM
Justin Pickard Justin Pickard is offline
Schweitzer/Sebelius 2016
 
Join Date: Jul 2004
Location: Euroregion Arc-Manche
Posts: 1000 or more
Read it, enjoyed it a lot. Thought that the world was well thought through, although the setting was probably better than the plot.
__________________
Currently planning "Hussites win pyrrhic victory, consolidate support, and form proto-CRZ in C15th Europe" TL.
Reply With Quote
  #5  
Old July 22nd, 2005, 12:32 PM
Nik Nik is offline
Speaker To Cats
 
Join Date: Jan 2005
Location: UK
Posts: 1000 or more
This aether sounds like coal & oil...

Coal mining problems, coal-tar refining problems, town gas manufacture, poisonings & explosions, tar cancers, smog...

Petrol ditto, plus lead poisoning...
Reply With Quote
  #6  
Old August 11th, 2005, 06:34 AM
fortyseven fortyseven is offline
Mastermind
 
Join Date: Jan 2004
Location: Empire of the True North
Posts: 1000 or more
Finished it. Enjoyed it. I like the epilogue. I did lose interest a few times tho. I'm going to read the sequel.
__________________
Populus consociatus numquam exardescetur.

The City of a Thousand and One Names
Reply With Quote
  #7  
Old August 11th, 2005, 01:48 PM
eschaton eschaton is offline
Muckraker & Rabblerouser
 
Join Date: Aug 2004
Location: Pittsburgh
Posts: 1000 or more
Why bother with Ian MacLeod when you can read Ken MacLeod instead?
Reply With Quote
  #8  
Old May 28th, 2007, 08:42 PM
Ivan Druzhkov Ivan Druzhkov is offline
Aspiring Apparatchik
 
Join Date: Dec 2004
Posts: 1000 or more
I found a copy of this in a second-hand bookstore a few weeks ago, and I've been enjoying it quite a bit. I do find some of the explanations hard to follow, but it's a pretty cool piece of industrial-themed realistic fantasy. It should also deal nicely with Howery's complaint that fantasy settings are always static. In this book, England's been in an eternal magic-fueled Industrial Age for about 300 years, and people are starting to get a little tired of it. It's also nice to see that magic doesn't always have positive effects on a young civilization.

Gonna have to find the sequel, assuming all copies of it haven't disappeared off the face of the earth.
__________________
Constitutions should be short and vague.
-Napoleon Bonaparte
Reply With Quote
  #9  
Old May 29th, 2007, 08:00 PM
Ivan Druzhkov Ivan Druzhkov is offline
Aspiring Apparatchik
 
Join Date: Dec 2004
Posts: 1000 or more
Quote:
Originally Posted by fortyseven View Post
Finished it. Enjoyed it. I like the epilogue. I did lose interest a few times tho. I'm going to read the sequel.
A rather bittersweet piece of writing, if I do say so myself. With any luck, I'll start on The House of Storms by next week (God, how I love used bookstores!)
__________________
Constitutions should be short and vague.
-Napoleon Bonaparte
Reply With Quote
  #10  
Old May 31st, 2007, 08:41 PM
Ivan Druzhkov Ivan Druzhkov is offline
Aspiring Apparatchik
 
Join Date: Dec 2004
Posts: 1000 or more
Quote:
Originally Posted by Nik View Post
Coal mining problems, coal-tar refining problems, town gas manufacture, poisonings & explosions, tar cancers, smog...

Petrol ditto, plus lead poisoning...
Of course, the major difference between aether and coal is the fact that aether has mutagenic properties that radioactive fallout can only dream of...

One of the things that I really liked about this book was that the magical aether, while the source of all of England's peace and prosperity, became something of a crutch for society in general. There are factories, gaslights, indoor plumbing, and steam locomotives, but the science of engineering in this book is a lot more primitive than in our 19th century. After all, why spend years experimenting with alloys and welding techniques to build a better boiler, when you can just cast one alloyed with aether that has a spell on it that keeps it intact? In fact, one of the characters mentions that wars have pretty much ceased ever since aether was discovered, and colonization seems to have all but stopped.
__________________
Constitutions should be short and vague.
-Napoleon Bonaparte
Reply With Quote
  #11  
Old June 5th, 2007, 08:01 PM
Ivan Druzhkov Ivan Druzhkov is offline
Aspiring Apparatchik
 
Join Date: Dec 2004
Posts: 1000 or more
Damn, I am posting in this thread a lot.

I just finished reading The House of Storms, and I found it a real departure from The Light Ages. This books seems to borrow a lot more from the traditions of gothic fiction (big country house, scheming woman, sickly son who falls in love), and it bounces around between a number of characters, including one of the Chosen, a person who has been mutated by aetheric exposure. There are only a few mentions of the events of the first book, which took place about a century before this one, but the basic themes of revolution and transition are still there. Of course, history doesn't go the same way twice, so this new Age ends, not in a revolt, but in a civil war that pits the guildmasters in London against the merchants of Bristol (!) in a conflict that really looks more like WWI than the ECW (in a rather cute touch, the events that start the war occur on an unseasonably hot August day in year 114 of the current Age). It's a good book, but it's certainly not The Light Ages.
__________________
Constitutions should be short and vague.
-Napoleon Bonaparte
Reply With Quote
  #12  
Old June 5th, 2007, 09:54 PM
tantric tantric is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2006
Posts: 214
i loved this book. it's not really fantasy - it's about social revolution and change, and how it works on the people involved. the fact that there are changlings and magic is secondary.
Reply With Quote
  #13  
Old June 6th, 2007, 04:23 AM
Timmy811 Timmy811 is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2005
Posts: 1000 or more
Quote:
Originally Posted by fortyseven View Post
With its strong character development and gritty, alternate London, this book won't attract fans of Robert Jordan or Terry Goodkind, but should hold great appeal to readers who love the more sophisticated fantasy of Michael Swanwick, John Crowley or even China Mieville.
I'm quite insulted by that. Just because I enjoy those authors, I can't enjoy more sophisticated works of literature?
Reply With Quote
  #14  
Old June 6th, 2007, 05:51 AM
fortyseven fortyseven is offline
Mastermind
 
Join Date: Jan 2004
Location: Empire of the True North
Posts: 1000 or more
Quote:
Originally Posted by Timmy811 View Post
I'm quite insulted by that. Just because I enjoy those authors, I can't enjoy more sophisticated works of literature?
tell it to amazon.com
__________________
Populus consociatus numquam exardescetur.

The City of a Thousand and One Names
Reply With Quote
  #15  
Old June 11th, 2007, 06:55 PM
Ivan Druzhkov Ivan Druzhkov is offline
Aspiring Apparatchik
 
Join Date: Dec 2004
Posts: 1000 or more
Quote:
Originally Posted by tantric View Post
i loved this book. it's not really fantasy - it's about social revolution and change, and how it works on the people involved. the fact that there are changlings and magic is secondary.
Yeah, I thought that MacLeod had designed aether quite nicely to create that effect. It responds to the human will, it's otherworldly, and you can put it in anything to improve it, but it can't create something from nothing, and it needs to be mined and refined like anything else.
__________________
Constitutions should be short and vague.
-Napoleon Bonaparte
Reply With Quote
Reply

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


All times are GMT. The time now is 10:16 PM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.4
Copyright ©2000 - 2014, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.