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Book Review: The Bookman

In The Bookman, Lavie Tidhar masterfully weaves fictional characters and a steam punk rewritten history into a complex mystery. Readers follow the perils of Orphan, a man of unknown origin who has lost everything through the death of his beloved Lucy. Through his search for answers and the hope of regaining Lucy, Orphan must confront the Bookman.

I loved the way Tidhar weaves classic literature throughout the plot. Fictional characters mingle beside the authors who spawned them. Exotic locations give the story a sweeping scope on par with any action movie. Subtle mentions and slight references to key inventors, authors of classic literature and slightly obscure technology inventors solidify the story into a fanciful steam punk world of possibility.

It took a couple chapters for me to grasp the role of Lizard monarchs but eventually their presence is explained. Perhaps as a Whovian, I can willingly allow fantastic alien creatures to mingle with humanity, though the enigmatic Doctor does not appear to rescue Orphan. Overall I enjoyed the book, but don't expect a tidy ending with all the answers. As the book emphasizes, there are choices and possible outcomes - we may speculate on alternatives but have to live with the results.

There were a half dozen expletives that could have been left out. The violence and romantic content was mildly presented, enough to know that Orphan is driven by his passion for Lucy and that dangers are real. If the book were made into a movie, it would probably be rated PG-13. Anyone who loves classic literature, history or steam punk adventure will find something to like about The Bookman.

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