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The Fractal Prince (Jean le Flambeur #2)

4.02 of 5 stars 4.02  ·  rating details  ·  3,476 ratings  ·  344 reviews
“The good thing is, no one will ever die again. The bad thing is, everyone will want to.”
A physicist receives a mysterious paper. The ideas in it are far, far ahead of current thinking and quite, quite terrifying. In a city of “fast ones,” shadow players, and jinni, two sisters contemplate a revolution.
And on the edges of reality a thief, helped by a sardonic ship, is tryi
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Kindle Edition, 320 pages
Published September 27th 2012 by Tor Books (first published September 1st 2012)
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Adult Fantasy & Sci-Fi 2012
50th out of 421 books — 838 voters
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Andrea
Oh... my.....god.....
Reading this diamond hard sci-fi novel is certainly not for space opera virgins. My mind is bleeding from the attempt. But then again nothing previously written in the genre (except volume one) could prepare one adequately for this frenetically paced, incredibly complex, fractally dense, relentlessly overwhelming work. It is post human, post singularity and post current imagination.
Sui generis indeed, and the gentle reader is not provided with a easy roadmap. Or a lifebelt.
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Lightreads
More post singularity thief nonsense in a wildly inventive future solar system.

Look, the thing is. I like a story that skips infodumps as much as the next girl. The prequel had that great setup where you could actually steal time off of someone's life, and this book does the same trick of plopping you down into a culture and never actually explaining the rules so it takes a few hundred pages to figure shit out. He makes it worthwhile, because these settings really are great. But at a certain poi
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Mark
Nothing pleases me more than when a novel refuses the reader exposition. Instead, they immerse you in the world and let you sink or swim. And let me tell you, that first gulp of air is so sweet. I read 'The Quantum Thief,' to which this book is the sequel. I was worried that, having already swam in that ocean of post-human lives, sentient machines, and cultures based solely on MMORPGs, that navigating these waters would be too easy. I was delightfully wrong. I had many gasps of sweet sweet air, ...more
Alexander Popov
(The review was originally posted in the blog Random's 23 Cents: http://mybiochemicalsky.wordpress.com...)

Step into the Palace of Stories, taste their body of fractals…

I gobbled The Fractal Prince up in just a few days, hungry to devour as many pages as possible during my daily commute between tube stations. Or maybe trying to slow down and savor them, sorry to see the book come to an end. Anything inducing such paradoxical states of mind must be more than just good. The follow-up to The Quantum
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Miki Habryn
I loved the previous book, but I read it too long ago to remember if I found it as hard to grasp as this one. There's several story-lines that play out simultaneously in very different worlds, and on top of that there's what feels like a very deliberate tribute to 1001 Nights in the use of nested stories and many of the universe's elements. Once everything is revealed, the layering and plot manipulations are simply grand, but I was well past the halfway point of the book before I felt like I had ...more
Jason
4 Stars


The Fractal Prince is a bit of a letdown to me after having reread book one tQT by Hannu Rajaniemi. It is like the first piece an incredibly ambitious and complex piece of hard science fiction that will challenge you as a reader to keep things straight or even to simply understand what he is talking about. As I mentioned in my review of book one, there is a Wiki page that goes into great detail on the vocabulary, the world, the creatures, and of course the science behind the story of The
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Daniel (Attack of the Books!) Burton
One of the reasons I read non-fiction and classics is that they tend to challenge me more than the books I enjoy reading the most. I'll pick up science-fiction or fantasy because I want to escape, relax, and take a break. But too much, and I get bored.

I did not have that problem when I read this book. Not one bit.

Hannu Rajaniemi, though, has found a way to both escape and challenge my mind at the same time. The challenge is such that, as I have seen one reviewer note, I would not recommend Raja
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Milo (Bane of Kings)
“An awesome, epic hard-sci-fi follow up to The Quantum Thief makes sure that The Fractal Prince was one of my favourite books of 2012.” ~The Founding Fields


The Fractal Prince was the last book that I finished in 2012, and it was a great year to end my reading on. As The Quantum Thief was one of my favourite novels of 2011, I seized the chance to read a copy of The Fractal Prince and I am grateful for Tor for sending me a copy to review – I just couldn’t put this book down, making it two out of t
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Tudor Ciocarlie
Hannu Rajaniemi had managed to do something unique in SF: to write a hard-SF novel in a far-future, post-human, post-singularity world. No other SF writer has had the courage to immerse the science, the narrative and the prose, so deep in the far future. Adam Roberts was right in saying that "there's nothing quite like it in contemporary SF". It's not an easy book, but this is science-fiction at its best and an incredible piece of literature in general.
Ira Nayman
The science fiction book club I attend looked at Karl Schroeder’s Lady of Mazes one month. One of the members stated that he didn’t much care for post-Singularity novels because there really wasn’t any way of predicting what would happen after all matter in the solar system or galaxy became computation. That, on the other hand, is exactly why I love those stories, as I was reminded by reading Hannu Rajaniemi’s The Fractal Prince, the awesome sequel to his awesome The Quantum Thief.

When I experie
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Adam
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Ben Thurley
I think Rajaniemi's two novels, this and his earlier, The Quantum Thief teeter on the edge of greatness, almost but not quite living up to their promise. They are full of big ideas, a richly imagined future where new ways of being human play out across the solar system. He is uncompromising in chiselling exposition away, and his language often achieves an elliptical kind of lyricism, even when describing the sharp edges of some technological horror. Although, to my mind, it equally often seemed ...more
Estelle
So glad I reread this. There are still many things I couldn't quite understand, but this time I really enjoyed the ride and, as in The Quantum Thief, some concepts and the level of creativity really took my breath away.
This time, I'm ready for the final book!
Clay
According to the blurb on the book jacket, Hannu Rajaniemi is a Finn transplanted to Scotland who directs a think tank that helps businesses by using higher math.

If you think that’s a little confusing, try reading his two books, “The Quantum Thief” and “The Fractal Prince” (Tor, $25.99, 297 pages). Set a few hundred years down the road, the connected books (absolutely read “The Quantum Thief” first) take place in a world where virtual realities are pretty much indistinguishable from the real thi
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Jacqie
This is one of those books that I had a hard time putting down when inconvenient things like work, food and sleep got in the way.

The Fractal Prince takes place mostly either on Earth or on the ship Perhonen. On Earth, a woman named Tawwadud is drawn into her family's political machinations in a small outpost town that is constantly being assaulted by wildcode. Tech functions a lot like magic in this place, and knowing the right word triggers and thoughtforms can protect a person from wild nanot
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Mary Catelli
Continuing onward from The Quantum Thief, set in the same future of nanotechnology and AIs and a full occupied solar system.

The thief and Mieli are still traveling on her ship, this time to Earth, to steal something for Mieli's goddess and the thief's old acquittance Josephine Pellegrini.

Meanwhile, on Earth, Tawaddad is interrupted while entertaining a jinn by her sister -- she has to get busy, doing actual work for the family. A politically powerful ally had died last night, and she is needed.

I
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Jason
They say absence makes the heart grow fonder. Well, exposition is so scarce in Hannu Rajaniemi's Jean le Flambeur series that I found myself getting excited and highlighting passages whenever a modicum of the stuff ever did finally come around. Though while there's something challenging about being dropped into a strange world with no explanation, it can also be incredibly satisfying to stretch one’s mental muscles in the way that only such a sink-or-swim lack of background can provide.

The Fract
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Shantnu Tiwari
This sequel to the Quantum Thief follows the same style as the 1st. New words are thrown about, and their meaning only explained much later. But we know a bit more about the characters and events mentioned in the 1st book.

The story starts from the last book's end. The thief is going to Earth. While Mars was like ancient Greece, Earth is like the Arab stories. There are jinns in the desert that take over human minds. Adventurous men go out into the desert to steal these jinns (really just bodyles
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Eric
THE FRACTAL PRINCE is the follow-up to Hannu Rajaniemi’s THE QUANTUM THIEF, and, like its predecessor, is a complex, fast-paced tale of gentleman thief Jean le Flambeur battling gods in a post-singularity world that only a mathematician or physicist will feel completely comfortable. But this time, Rajaniemi adds a layer of Arabian Nights and the power of stories to this hard-SF tale.

As you can probably guess from that first paragraph, THE FRACTAL PRINCE is not the easiest read. There is a reason
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Niklaus
Admittedly even more confusing than the Quantum Thief, but even better in its ability to resurrect an old genre in a vivid and bizarre hard-SF transhumanist future. The ideas are awesome but they notably don't get in the way of the character-driven plot, as we learn much more about Flambeur, Miele and the Founders of Sobornost.

It leaves a whole lot unresolved, which is to be expected of the second part of the trilogy. But consider yourself warned; the ending is not as abrupt as Quantum Thief's b
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kari
Now, that's often an unfair thing to say, but: this book could easily be so much better - if Rajaniemi tried. Just a little.
His greatest forte is dazzling, rich, Byzantine imagery. The setting he creates is complex and innovative, drawing from known inspirations in an unexpected way. There's a huge promise of a great, enticing plot. And that's where my list of compliments regarding this book ends.
Many people praise Rajaniemi for his ability to throw the reader into his world without bothering
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Mitchell
Ugh. I'm sorry I read this book. I went back and looked at my review for the first book and the big difference is that the second half of that book was readable. The conceit of this book is that we are inside some form of upload singularity with simulations and secret words and weird terminology. And some times characters become generic words and characters become other characters and its all freaking stupid and pointless.
Larou
The Fractal Prince by Finnish-born author Hannu Rajaniemi (who according to his author biography now lives in Scotland and has a Ph.D. in string theory, whatever that is (I can’t help but imagine a guy in an academic gown and wearing a mortarboard playing Cat’s Cradle, but I suppose that this is probably slightly off the mark)) is the second part of a trilogy; the first part, The Quantum Thief, received a huge amount of attention (almost all of it positive, most critics were positively ecstatic ...more
Joe Frazier
Jean le Flambeur is on a mission whilst being hunted – of course, this calls for deft timing and brilliant distraction all while trying to get in a Schrödinger box to borrow a powerful jewel… or not. So begins The Fractal Prince, the second book the Jean le Flambeur series. (Go here for a review of the first book, The Quantum Thief. Also, read them in order.) The Oubliette is replaced with Sirr, a city on Earth ravaged by wildcode. The European steampunk culture is supplanted by an Arabian cultu ...more
Matt Fimbulwinter
Best post-human societies ever. Also a ripping good yarn that examines the nature of stories with stories in a way that reminds me of Sandman. Passes the Bechdel test effortlessly. And Jean Le Flambeur deserves a seat on the Great Thieves of Fiction up with the Stainless Steel Rat and Lock Lamora.
Jon Knight
I haven't given this a star rating because I'm really not sure how I feel about it. Either I was less with it today than I was when I read the first book or this one is harder to follow. And I say that as someone who's been reading Stress/Gibson/Sterling for 10-15 years. This series is many things, a gentle starting point in post-singularity SF it certainly isn't.

I described it on twitter as both a headf*ck and molecular gastronomy in book form. It blends traditional & unfamiliar ingredient
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Kristin
A book probably best not started at 5am in the morning, or right before bed. Absolutely fascinating concepts and world/universe setting, but some of the language and sentence structure is enough to give an un-caffeinated or sleep deprived system brain skids. I read the Husband one paragraph over breakfast and his eyes glazed over.

This one was a bit slow to start as the author bounces from point of view to point of view, much like fractals do mathematically. But then there is a point in the stor
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Andreas Enderlin
Fractal Prince is very complex. It stands out as 'The most exciting new voice in Science Fiction'. Hannu Rajaniemi's sequel to Quantum Thief continues the journey of Gentleman Burglar Jean Le Flambeur and Oortian Warrior Mieli. The complexity is sometimes overwhelming. The creations of Rajaniemi are so futuristic and at the same time, they don't seem impossible. There are so many aspects, perspectives, stories, scifi elements; all of them create an astonishing work of literature.
Most of the tim
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Brad
“On the day the Hunter comes for me, I am killing ghost cats from the Schrödinger Box.”

I luuuuurve this opening line. His craft is exquisite, so far.

Update: The imagery is almost better than anything I've read in either sci-fi or fantasy. If you took out the better and deeper images from all thee matrix movies, threw them up against the wall with jinn and fairies and the greatest heist mysteries, heavily spiced it with near-impossible mathematical concepts and theorems that really need some deep
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Gerhard
A character's comment towards the end sums up the experience of this book for me: '... the data stream is a bit of a headfuck. If I go mad or spontaneously transcend in the next five minutes, I'm going to blame you.'

Well, this is certainly a headfuck, and I think Rajanieni is going to have to account for a lot of exploding heads and/or spontaneous transcendence with this one. It is beautifully written and exquisitely crafted, and really has quite a simple by-the-numbers whodunnit plot.

Tacked ont
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audiobook? 1 11 Sep 28, 2012 11:13AM  
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EN: Hannu Rajaniemi is a Finnish author of science fiction and fantasy, who writes in both English and Finnish. He lives in Edinburgh, Scotland, and is a founding director of a technology consultancy company, ThinkTank Maths.

Rajaniemi was born in Ylivieska, Finland. He holds a B.Sc. in Mathematics from the University of Oulu, a Certificate of Advanced Study in Mathematics from the University of Ca
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More about Hannu Rajaniemi...

Other Books in the Series

Jean le Flambeur (3 books)
  • The Quantum Thief (Jean le Flambeur, #1)
  • The Causal Angel (Jean le Flambeur, #3)
The Quantum Thief (Jean le Flambeur, #1) The Causal Angel (Jean le Flambeur, #3) Hannu Rajaniemi: Collected Fiction Words of Birth and Death The Year's Best Science Fiction: Twenty-Third Annual Collection

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