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Things are going badly for the Clan in this new SF novel of the Merchant Princes, the immensely popular series by Charles Stross. Locked in a vicious civil war for control over the kingdom of Niejwein, their army is bottled up inside a fortress under siege in two parallel universes at once. Duke Angbard, the Clan's leader, has been laid low by a stroke: plotters are alread Things are going badly for the Clan in this new SF novel of the Merchant Princes, the immensely popular series by Charles Stross. Locked in a vicious civil war for control over the kingdom of Niejwein, their army is bottled up inside a fortress under siege in two parallel universes at once. Duke Angbard, the Clan's leader, has been laid low by a stroke: plotters are already conspiring in readiness for the deadly dance to come. Miriam, rescued from a tight spot in New Britain, finds the hopes of the young, progressive faction focused on her. But do they want her as a leader or a figurehead? She soon finds herself thrown into a desperate struggle for power. Meanwhile, unbeknownst to the Clan, researchers working for the US government have achieved a technological breakthrough. The War on Terror is about to go transdimensional.


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Things are going badly for the Clan in this new SF novel of the Merchant Princes, the immensely popular series by Charles Stross. Locked in a vicious civil war for control over the kingdom of Niejwein, their army is bottled up inside a fortress under siege in two parallel universes at once. Duke Angbard, the Clan's leader, has been laid low by a stroke: plotters are alread Things are going badly for the Clan in this new SF novel of the Merchant Princes, the immensely popular series by Charles Stross. Locked in a vicious civil war for control over the kingdom of Niejwein, their army is bottled up inside a fortress under siege in two parallel universes at once. Duke Angbard, the Clan's leader, has been laid low by a stroke: plotters are already conspiring in readiness for the deadly dance to come. Miriam, rescued from a tight spot in New Britain, finds the hopes of the young, progressive faction focused on her. But do they want her as a leader or a figurehead? She soon finds herself thrown into a desperate struggle for power. Meanwhile, unbeknownst to the Clan, researchers working for the US government have achieved a technological breakthrough. The War on Terror is about to go transdimensional.

30 review for The Revolution Business

  1. 5 out of 5

    Richard Derus

    Rating: 4.5* of five The latest of "The Merchant Princes" series, book five in fact, is a wonderful deepening of a chain of alternate worlds that resemble the mundane one you and I live in more, or less, depending on which strand of his story Stross is highlighting at any given moment. The basic premise of all alternate history is to take off from the world the reader knows at a point he or she can get revved up about. In the US, that most often means alternate outcomes of the American Civil War, Rating: 4.5* of five The latest of "The Merchant Princes" series, book five in fact, is a wonderful deepening of a chain of alternate worlds that resemble the mundane one you and I live in more, or less, depending on which strand of his story Stross is highlighting at any given moment. The basic premise of all alternate history is to take off from the world the reader knows at a point he or she can get revved up about. In the US, that most often means alternate outcomes of the American Civil War, 1861-1865; I'd hesitate to speculate about other countries, but I've seen a LOT of Bonaparte-wins stuff in French. In a way, this area of fiction allows readers to fulfill fantasies of what the world Could and Should be like. What I most like about this series of books is that Stross takes off from multiple departure points, and some so subtly that most all readers will slide right past the references that let you know you're down the rabbit hole until sucker-punched with the difference. Stross does that in this book, and he does it well, if a sucker-punch can be done well. A nagging not-quite-rightness from previous books gets brought up full force, and it's a game-changer for the series. Well done, Sir Charles. Now, there is a downside to every artistic choice...since there are multiple alternate worlds, each with its own issues and problems to work out on these pages, the focus tends to be a bit blurry. The constraints of having the series POV character physically move among the alternate realities limits Stross's forward momentum in her story, and can feel as though the alternates are getting short shrift. I'd have to say, though, that the sensation of wanting more of all the threads is a good sign that Stross is a capable storyteller operating at full throttle. This entry in the series will repay your time spent reading it. Don't start here, though...start with book one, The Family Trade. It's high-quality thinking, and reading. Oh, and George Bush gets blown up by a nuke. (That's the extra half-star!)

  2. 4 out of 5

    Susan

    About as subtle as my preschooler's _Blue's Clues_ shows. The fifth book in (hopefully only) a six book series, I'm sadly hooked enough on the storyline to want to know what happens. I've read some of Stross' technology-based and futuristic stories, and they are wonderful. I have no idea what went wrong with these books, but I strongly encourage you not to start the _Merchant Princes_ series. About as subtle as my preschooler's _Blue's Clues_ shows. The fifth book in (hopefully only) a six book series, I'm sadly hooked enough on the storyline to want to know what happens. I've read some of Stross' technology-based and futuristic stories, and they are wonderful. I have no idea what went wrong with these books, but I strongly encourage you not to start the _Merchant Princes_ series.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Baal Of

    200 hundred pages into this book, I was just about ready to give it 2 stars and be done, but then I kept plugging away, and found just enough to keep my interest up. I'm sill not happy with how the next character, Miriam, has been manipulated, and also, I hate stories that revolve around pregnancy. This one doesn't commit that sin, but it does represent a major continuing plot point. However, by the time Stross got around to talking about how knot theory wove into the idea of travel into other w 200 hundred pages into this book, I was just about ready to give it 2 stars and be done, but then I kept plugging away, and found just enough to keep my interest up. I'm sill not happy with how the next character, Miriam, has been manipulated, and also, I hate stories that revolve around pregnancy. This one doesn't commit that sin, but it does represent a major continuing plot point. However, by the time Stross got around to talking about how knot theory wove into the idea of travel into other worlds, he had my attention again. More of that please. I also liked the powerpoint presentation/recap of how screwed the family is that was given by Miriam, excuse me, Helge, because it really helped me straighten out the factions in my mind again. Ironic that, since powerpoint presentations can be so loathsome in the real world. For this series, my enjoyment is sharply curtailed since I don't really like political thrillers. I appreciate a well done backdrop of politics in a story, that provides gravitas, but not when it because the primary or major focus. To Stross's credit, he's writing a style of story that isn't generally to my taste, and yet he manages to throw in just enough to keep going.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Nick

    This was an enjoyable continuation of Stross's 'Family' series, recommended if you have read the previous novels in the series, but he is not at the top of his game with this novel. It could be tighter, some of the dialog drifts, for me it became difficult to keep all the character associations clear (Stross should post a 'dramatis persone' at the front of his next in the series). Finally a well-intended warning to Stross that he is showing the initial symptoms of 'Turtledoveitis', i.e. Turtledo This was an enjoyable continuation of Stross's 'Family' series, recommended if you have read the previous novels in the series, but he is not at the top of his game with this novel. It could be tighter, some of the dialog drifts, for me it became difficult to keep all the character associations clear (Stross should post a 'dramatis persone' at the front of his next in the series). Finally a well-intended warning to Stross that he is showing the initial symptoms of 'Turtledoveitis', i.e. Turtledove at his best (e.g. Guns of the South) does not serialize his concepts as a marketing event, at his worse he does and the result are some series that are ever more ponderous, searching for the light at the end of the serialization tunnel...

  5. 5 out of 5

    Chris

    How can the intensity just continue to build like this?! Anyway, yeah, another cliffhanger, so make sure you have the next book on hand.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Helen

    Never mind that; I want a copy of book 6. Now! Those back packable nukes we heard about? They're still around and there are factions in the Clan and that Family Trade Organisation the US government (well, a department of the US government) set up to deal with the Clan is really wanting to deal with the Clan and Mike Fleming, the agent who got caught in a man trap outside the Summer Palace, suffers with a broken leg all through this book and Miriam has discovered what happened to herself back in B Never mind that; I want a copy of book 6. Now! Those back packable nukes we heard about? They're still around and there are factions in the Clan and that Family Trade Organisation the US government (well, a department of the US government) set up to deal with the Clan is really wanting to deal with the Clan and Mike Fleming, the agent who got caught in a man trap outside the Summer Palace, suffers with a broken leg all through this book and Miriam has discovered what happened to herself back in Book 3 and is trying to regain some control over her life and the whole thing just gallops along like a panicked horse. This is economic science fiction? I had never met the word "quorate" before, as in a meeting with a quorum attending, but it is perfectly logical, and apparently British usage, so alright, I guess. While the terminology with the medievalists sounds right in these books (although once someone is crowned then they stop being duke or prince and are king from then on I thought) the majority voice is USian so a definite British usage is comforting. I've never been comfortable with secret knowledge, especially knowledge in the hands of people who are able to do something physical with it. This series just confirms me in that feeling. The characters are vivid and I find myself caring about Mike Fleming, Duke Angbard, Ladies Brilliana and Olga and others we only meet briefly. This is a wonderful series and I'm going to be sorry when I get to the end. I missed Book 3 but they're holding a copy at the library for me. I thought it wouldn't matter because the essentials are referred to in this one but no, I want to read the details. My husband won't read Book 4 until he's read #3 so you can see it's becoming obsessive around here.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Jerry

    I was very disappointed by this book. It did very little to further develop any of the characters. It was so fragmented and lacking details that it didn't seem much really happened. My biggest disappointment was that it tied the series to the past executive administration in the US making the book tied to the present. I think that this was a really bad idea since it destroys the believability of the fantasy. I was very disappointed by this book. It did very little to further develop any of the characters. It was so fragmented and lacking details that it didn't seem much really happened. My biggest disappointment was that it tied the series to the past executive administration in the US making the book tied to the present. I think that this was a really bad idea since it destroys the believability of the fantasy.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Bruce

    Stross' Merchant Prince saga continues to go off the rails. Too many characters and a confusing story prevented me from really enjoying this. Stross' Merchant Prince saga continues to go off the rails. Too many characters and a confusing story prevented me from really enjoying this.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Scott

    Surprisingly dull and uneventful compared to Stross's other works. Plus, it's clearly intended to have a least one more sequel, allowing Stross to spread too little material over too many pages. Surprisingly dull and uneventful compared to Stross's other works. Plus, it's clearly intended to have a least one more sequel, allowing Stross to spread too little material over too many pages.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Leonardo Etcheto

    Now the nukes show up. They confirm there are six missing. One is found in Boston and sent back to Medieval world where it zaps the bad guy from the previous book. So the new bad guy is of course the government of the united states who basically stop at nothing for oil. Ho hum, pretty tired trope, but book was written when W was president and so it goes. I am always amused when people imagine these huge secret conspiracies in the government. They can't keep anything secret, and the theft is not Now the nukes show up. They confirm there are six missing. One is found in Boston and sent back to Medieval world where it zaps the bad guy from the previous book. So the new bad guy is of course the government of the united states who basically stop at nothing for oil. Ho hum, pretty tired trope, but book was written when W was president and so it goes. I am always amused when people imagine these huge secret conspiracies in the government. They can't keep anything secret, and the theft is not some clever and secretive plan, it is basic crony capitalism where you write the rules to help your friends and then they give you a nice cushy job. Or to your kid or your wife. There is only one solution - small goverment. That lesson is shown throughout this series of books where all the goverments are basically all powerful and as result mistreat their citizens. The other bad guy is the venal doctor whose status has been degraded so he sells everyone out. The world walker breeding program is pretty clever actually, but the US goverment fixes the problem the old fashioned way IQ and money and you have a world walker machine. Lots of cheating, backstabbing, self justifying and craziness. The thin duke is killed by a clever bit of forcing him to worldwalk which gives him a stroke, then suffocating him with a pillow then pretend to try to revive him. Good fun as the crazy train keeps rolling. It ends with a carbomb incredibly enough.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Cale

    I may have given this an extra half star just because it finally gets Miriam back to be at least somewhat proactive. She's still the center of a maelstrom of activity as a couple major plot threads get resolved (one that made a large part of the previous book kind of pointless, but oh well) and all the other plot threads start tying themselves together. A couple of the plot pieces get short shrift (poor Paulette gets one brief scene, and the entire New Britain storyline has major ramifications b I may have given this an extra half star just because it finally gets Miriam back to be at least somewhat proactive. She's still the center of a maelstrom of activity as a couple major plot threads get resolved (one that made a large part of the previous book kind of pointless, but oh well) and all the other plot threads start tying themselves together. A couple of the plot pieces get short shrift (poor Paulette gets one brief scene, and the entire New Britain storyline has major ramifications but minor coverage), but the main plot threads have more than enough to keep the book busy. The conflict between the Hochsprache and Federal Government heats up (in some ways literally). The last dozen pages have several major surprises, such that I want to pick up the next book as soon as possible. On its own, I can't say I'll remember the events of this book on their own, but as part of the overarching story, it is a fundamental and interesting piece.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Thomas

    Stross, Charles. The Revolution Business. Merchant Princes No. 5. Tor, 2009. As readers of this series know, and I would not recommend starting your reading of it with this volume, a family called the Clan has a recessive gene that allows them to walk between alternate timelines under certain conditions. The family straddles the middle ages and the atomic age, which turns out to be a very dangerous thing for all concerned. Stross uses the storyline of this novel to comment in a sly way on our var Stross, Charles. The Revolution Business. Merchant Princes No. 5. Tor, 2009. As readers of this series know, and I would not recommend starting your reading of it with this volume, a family called the Clan has a recessive gene that allows them to walk between alternate timelines under certain conditions. The family straddles the middle ages and the atomic age, which turns out to be a very dangerous thing for all concerned. Stross uses the storyline of this novel to comment in a sly way on our various wars on drugs and terror and suggests that in a nuclear age, even little wars can lead to cataclysm. Merchant princes continues, on rereading, to be one of my favorite science fiction series of all time.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Woolstar

    While our hero tries to figure out how to rescue her sanity, chart a new course for her life, and deal with the future that's been set in motion; the US takes action, but not with the outcome they're going for. Lots of trial and error around how world walking really works, and the principle that 2 is a very strange number is applied (see the The Gods Themselves). While our hero tries to figure out how to rescue her sanity, chart a new course for her life, and deal with the future that's been set in motion; the US takes action, but not with the outcome they're going for. Lots of trial and error around how world walking really works, and the principle that 2 is a very strange number is applied (see the The Gods Themselves).

  14. 4 out of 5

    Tom Rowe

    Wow! Charles Stross really hates Dick Cheney. This book continues the Merchant Princes story. It's a page turner, and while many reviews I saw call this series predictable, I didn't find it to be. It's fun. It's a page turner. I'm burning through each of these books in 2-3 days. Good times. Now on to the last one to see how this thing ends. It' feels like he has a lot of balls in the air. I'm curious if he will catch them all. Wow! Charles Stross really hates Dick Cheney. This book continues the Merchant Princes story. It's a page turner, and while many reviews I saw call this series predictable, I didn't find it to be. It's fun. It's a page turner. I'm burning through each of these books in 2-3 days. Good times. Now on to the last one to see how this thing ends. It' feels like he has a lot of balls in the air. I'm curious if he will catch them all.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Tracy Leigh

    These cliffhangers are killing me. Seriously. I’ve never read a serious that so obviously just leaves you hanging. It’s terrible when you don’t have the next one to just plow into. Frustrating, really. But I love this series very much and haven’t gotten tired of it at all. I’ve kept reading this series even though David Lynch ❤️❤️❤️ released a new book and we got a new puppy. That says quite a lot, even if I only rated this one a 3. Sometimes I’m just not into the New Britain storyline.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Shhhhh Ahhhhh

    Enjoyable. Especially the revelations regarding the other worlds and the necessary implications (perfect dentistry was a GREAT universe artifact). I'm excited for reading the last book that bridges this series with Dark State/ Empire Games BUT, given what I already know after having read those books, I'm supremely disappointed that we haven't even seen a hint of the 'big bad' yet, despite having something like 4 books worth of evidence of their existence. It's unnerving. Enjoyable. Especially the revelations regarding the other worlds and the necessary implications (perfect dentistry was a GREAT universe artifact). I'm excited for reading the last book that bridges this series with Dark State/ Empire Games BUT, given what I already know after having read those books, I'm supremely disappointed that we haven't even seen a hint of the 'big bad' yet, despite having something like 4 books worth of evidence of their existence. It's unnerving.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Alan Norrie

    This book is hard going at times. The politics of the early 2000s seems out of place in a fantasy novel. Most of it seems to be the author's own fantasies and this dates very fast. It would be good if the book had concentrated on Huw, Hulius and Elena because these characters seemed fresh and interesting. Erasmus's storyline in New Britain was really boring and the other characters are getting very tired. Miriam/Helge's battle learning hochsprache is really annoying. Even peasant maids can learn This book is hard going at times. The politics of the early 2000s seems out of place in a fantasy novel. Most of it seems to be the author's own fantasies and this dates very fast. It would be good if the book had concentrated on Huw, Hulius and Elena because these characters seemed fresh and interesting. Erasmus's storyline in New Britain was really boring and the other characters are getting very tired. Miriam/Helge's battle learning hochsprache is really annoying. Even peasant maids can learn English but she whinges constantly. Too many bossy knowall women and not enough story. I keep hoping Helge will be assassinated. Maybe Mike can do that. I have started the next book. Sigh!

  18. 5 out of 5

    Shiftless McKenney

    Thankfully short but this felt like one huge stalling point in the story. One discovery is made which is then explained then explained again then explained again while the rest is redundant politics. Overall building up the story but that was the entire book. Still, looking forward to diving into the next book as so far this series has been fairly good.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Mark Edlund

    Economic science fiction - Stross continues his Merchant Princes series with a book that really accelerates the hostilities between our Earth and the parallel Gruenmarkt. Miriam gets an very unexpected and unwanted promotion. The ending is sobering. No pharmacy references. Canadian references - brief mention of Ontario and Quebec; character talks about escaping to Canada.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Jenny Trick

    I found this book to be a little easier to follow along now that I’m pretty familiar with the different parties and characters. There were still a lot of things that didn’t really make sense to me though and I found that the most interesting things tended to be glossed over/rushed. This book also ended in the middle of action which I find annoying.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Charles

    Like the others in the series, it continues to set up and expand an interesting universe. But also like the others in the series, not much actually happens. There are a couple of events that have major effects on the universe, but the book doesn't actually spend that much TIME on those events. Like the others in the series, it continues to set up and expand an interesting universe. But also like the others in the series, not much actually happens. There are a couple of events that have major effects on the universe, but the book doesn't actually spend that much TIME on those events.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Karl Schaeffer

    Miriam becomes parts of the revolution in New Britain in Timeline 3. The Clan is factionalizing in Timeline 1 as well as being pursued by their nonworldwalking brethern in Timeline 1. meanwhile in Timeline 2, researchers for the US Gov't have figured out how to worldwalk. Shite's gettin' realz! Miriam becomes parts of the revolution in New Britain in Timeline 3. The Clan is factionalizing in Timeline 1 as well as being pursued by their nonworldwalking brethern in Timeline 1. meanwhile in Timeline 2, researchers for the US Gov't have figured out how to worldwalk. Shite's gettin' realz!

  23. 4 out of 5

    Gabe

    Series isn't continuing well.. I feel like I have to finish it though because of the investment. Series isn't continuing well.. I feel like I have to finish it though because of the investment.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Paul

    Review reserved for The Trade of Queens (listening as a pair). Review reserved for The Trade of Queens (listening as a pair).

  25. 4 out of 5

    JT

    Damnit, Charlie! Two cliffhangers in a row? Really? That said, quite a good book - a corking good tale, and a wild ride and all that.

  26. 4 out of 5

    David Shlingbaum

    Nice cont' for the story a bit slower then the previous books but still good Nice cont' for the story a bit slower then the previous books but still good

  27. 5 out of 5

    Carla

    Another huge cliffhanger! Really enjoying the character development though

  28. 5 out of 5

    Michael Tedin

    Ramps up the tension The series gets more and more tense. Stross fully believes the dictum “Get your Character Up a Tree, then throw rocks at her”.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Joe Jungers

    Interdimensional politics? Those never end well.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Debra Scott

    A lot of pages with not much happening.

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