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Newton's Cannon (Age of Unreason #1)

3.73  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,261 Ratings  ·  67 Reviews
A dazzling quest whose outcome will raise humanity to unparalleled heights of glory--or ring down a curtain of endless night . . .

1681: When Sir Isaac Newton turns his restless mind to the ancient art of alchemy, he unleashes Philosopher's Mercury, a primal source of matter and a key to manipulating the four elements of Earth, Air, Fire, and Water. Now, as France and Engla
Paperback, 384 pages
Published March 29th 1999 by Del Rey (first published 1998)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 2,541)
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“A reasonable man … can always find a reason to justify what he wants to do.”

Think: The Three Musketeers meets The Da Vinci Code.

“Living amid corruption was no excuse for becoming corrupted.”

A fun alternate timeline story set in the early eighteenth century, but little like the time we learned in school. Keyes takes us into a world where ancient theories of matter and energy are true, resulting in “modern” contrivances which run on etheric power, looking like magic to us but governed by rules an
Ben Babcock
I have fond memories of this trilogy from my youth. Or, more likely, of parts of this trilogy, both because in my rebellious heyday I read things out of sequence like it was nobody's business (because it wasn't) and because my library is very fond of buying books 2 and 3 but not book 1. So I can't recall if I ever read Newton”s Cannon, but it seemed like a good place to restart my journey through the Age of Unreason. Finding it for 30 p at a library sale was just icing on the cake—it even has th ...more
Jul 19, 2009 Rob rated it really liked it
I'll not say this is the most original novel ever written; after all, the what-if-the-alchemists-were-really-onto-something has been done before, in The Face in the Frost and elsewhere. But to include Benjamin Franklin in their ranks—that makes this stand out. Also, to anyone who's read Franklin's autobiography and knows something of his history, this novel will be interesting, I think.

It's odd, but I never thought of Franklin and Isaac Newton being contemporaries and, as they are of different g
Jul 23, 2014 Olethros rated it liked it
-Un Siglo de las Luces steampunk-fantástico.-

Género. Narrativa fantástica.

Lo que nos cuenta. Tras una breve introducción que nos presenta diferentes situaciones de la vida de los tres personajes principales en la trama, Newton, Luis XIV y Benjamin Franklin, que no estrictamente los tres protagonistas de la historia, el libro nos lleva a la segunda década del siglo XVII en un mundo muy parecido al nuestro pero en el que la “alquimia racional” es la ciencia que está transformando el mundo y que pu
Apr 27, 2014 Spotsalots added it
Shelves: fiction, fantasy
I have no recollection of how this book came into my house, but it proved to be a fairly entertaining alternate-reality sort of fiction with Ben Franklin (as a child and teen) and Louis XIV (in old age) as two of the main characters. It's quite imaginative and uses actual history to create a completely different world. On the other hand, the narrative style made me wonder if it was written for bright 14-year-olds (like Ben in the book) rather than for adults. If it was really aimed at that age g ...more
Mar 09, 2011 Greg rated it did not like it
I got about 3/4 of the way through this one and just ran out of patience with this book. all the elements are here. alternate history, magic in a semi modern era, American history. but that was not enough for me. The story just kind of fell flat and I was just bored after a while. even after the big calamity I was just wondering why I was here and I was 3/4 of the way through, at 3/4 I should know whats up and I didn't so I had to step away or I was just gonna get angry.

A real interesting start
Robin Wiley
Apr 16, 2010 Robin Wiley rated it really liked it
Greg Keyes is one of my favorite fantasy authors. I love his style. Nearly every chapter ends in a cliff hanger of some sort. It forces you to read like a machine, which is very sad when you reach the end, but very fun while you're reading.

Keyes magic is based on physical harmonies. Tune into the right frequency, and channel the powers of the Divine. Oooh! Did I mention there's a war in Heaven? (I know!!!)

This fantasy world is earth, placed in the 18th century, and follows some historical as wel
M. Ihsan Tatari
Jan 26, 2016 M. Ihsan Tatari rated it really liked it
Oldukça farklı bir romandı. Alternatif tarih, steampunk ve fantastik edebiyat türlerini oldukça iyi bir şekilde karıştırıyor. İşin içine bir de hem tarihi hem de kurgusal karakterlerin bir arada yaşadığı bir dünya katılınca aldığınız keyif kat sayısı otomatikman yükseliyor.

Kitap 18. yüzyılda geçiyor. Simya alanında büyük gelişmeler kaydedilmiş ve pek çok mucize hayat bulmuştur. Bununla birlikte insanoğlunun her buluşu gibi bu küçük mucizeler de savaşlarda üstünlük etmek için kullanılıyor. Fransa
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Deale Hutton
Nov 11, 2013 Deale Hutton rated it really liked it
Hard to rate this one. I like the alternative universe where people like Louis XIV and Ben Franklin exist. Very cleverly done including known and fictitious characters. I thought the character development was pretty good, and the science interlaced with alchemy and magic was fun. This is a series, and while I will read book 2, I do not like that the book does not really stand alone.
Gregor Xane
Jun 28, 2009 Gregor Xane rated it liked it
Shelves: 2009
This one started a bit slow but got better and better as it went along. About a quarter of the way through it suddenly became a real page-turner. I've read a number of reviews complaining about the ending. I didn't have a problem with it, as I knew this was the first in a series. And I'll now be on the look out for volume two.
Joel Flank
Jul 13, 2015 Joel Flank rated it it was amazing
What happens to the world if Isaac Newton discovers an alchemical/scientific element that allows him and future scientists to interact with the ether, and if many of the early renaissance/occult scientific beliefs are true? Newton's Cannon starts a highly imaginative series that sets out to address that question. Set in the early 1700s, the world is in the process of being transformed by all sorts of scientific devices and weaponry, from communications, to lighting, to lightning guns, heat rays, ...more
Chris Stanley
Dec 05, 2007 Chris Stanley rated it it was amazing
Outstanding; first book in a (4-book!) trilogy. Don't ask, read them all.
Scott Marlowe
Mar 14, 2016 Scott Marlowe rated it it was ok
Confusing and slow.
Apr 14, 2013 Adysnewbox rated it liked it
I am hard-pressed to write an in-depth review of this book...I read it during a particularly busy patch of my life, and I worry I was so distracted I missed a lot of texture and detail. If I could use one word to describe this book, it is WEIRD.

If you enjoy either alternate history or steampunk, then I definitely recommend trying out this series. I kind of love it that Benjamin Franklin (a true "renaissance man" and early scientific genius) is the protagonist's fun to imagine all his e
Althea Ann
Apr 07, 2012 Althea Ann rated it liked it
I just read "Dark Matter," which puts the character of Isaac Newton in a Sherlock Holmes-type role, so when I realized I had another book featuring Mr. Newton, I decided to compare and contrast.

Well, this book isn't so much about Isaac Newton. It's actually more about Ben Franklin. (!) But then again... it's not really about Ben Franklin. I tend, in general, to dislike books that name-check famous historical characters to the extent that this one does, but it didn't bother me in this book. It to
L’uchronie est, au sein de la science-fiction, une espèce particulière de roman, donnant toute sa force à cette phrase d’Alexandre Dumas : "on peut violer l’Histoire, à condition de lui faire de beaux enfants.". Et ce roman en est l’un des exemples enthousiasmants : sur une hypothèse historique assez osée (que se serait-il passé si Newton avait poussé plus avant ses études alchimiques) l’auteur nous dépeint un siècle des lumières où la technologie fait déja une apparition très remarquée, quoique ...more
Mistydawn Thrash
Aug 14, 2013 Mistydawn Thrash rated it liked it
Follow along with Benjamin Franklin, John Collins, Sir Issac Newton, kings, dukes, armies, tzars, and common folk as they unravel the mysteries of the physics, cosmos, and human greed. For love of country, for love of heart, for love of this book to find out which wins.

I was truly surprised that I like this book. Reading the title and the insert I rolled my eyes in anticipating a cheesy sci-fi novel with ridiculousness. It was a sci-fi novel, there was some ridiculousness, a lit
Aug 07, 2014 John added it
It was an excellent read, first of a four-part series called "The Age of Unreason", Keyes manages to combine Angelic magic with Steam-punk science in "historical" science-fiction! The premise which starts the series off is "What if Sir Isaac Newton writes the Philosophiæ Naturalis Principia Alchemica instead of Philosophiæ Naturalis Principia Mathematica" as he rediscovers the philosopher's mercury.
Read all four and enjoy!
Aug 24, 2015 Stephen rated it it was amazing
A quick, fun read I first ran across about ten-or-so years ago. How can you not love a young Ben Franklin fighting demonic forces trying to destroy London? The French parts seemed to drag a little compared to the a American/English parts, but I was more interested in those characters so your mileage may vary.
Jun 29, 2011 Derek rated it really liked it
Setting an alternate history in the Age of Enlightenment is an intriguing concept: human understanding of the universe was in its infancy. Putting an alternate system of physics into the hands of Enlightenment thinkers, tinkerers, and builders would result in some interesting developments, both for industry and society as well as the turbulent politics of the age.

After reading, the thing that bothers me is the character of Trevor Bracewell, the pursuer of Benjamin Franklin. Early in the story hi
Jul 26, 2010 Kathi rated it really liked it
Shelves: science-fiction
This alternate history is chock-full of unusual ideas and interesting characters, from a pre-teen Ben Franklin to King Louis XIV of France. The mix of science and alchemy, natural and supernatural, knowledge and instinct is what kept my mind occupied and the pages turning.

One of the things I really liked is that no one is blameless. The characters, even when acting in good faith, do dangerous things with unseen consequences. There are agents and spies playing both sides of the game, especially i
Lucy Gray
Apr 13, 2015 Lucy Gray rated it really liked it
Quite enjoyed this book as it takes a time in history which I don't know much about and gives it a bit of a twist. Even though I am not great at science it was not necessary to be a nuclear physicist to understand the plot. Pleasantly surprised that there is a strong female character. Planning to read the sequel shortly.
Ben Morch
Dec 08, 2015 Ben Morch rated it it was amazing
Very good series. I enjoyed the alt history story line and how magic and alchemy all kind of joined together to make this an exciting read.
Becky Churchman
Mar 05, 2016 Becky Churchman rated it really liked it
Love the alternate history theme. This book does bring up questions about how our mathematics and physics might be different if alchemy had become an actual science. Interesting with great character development.
Feb 17, 2014 Sailledolfijn marked it as to-read
Set in alternate history of america where magic works. Very unique according to
Jan 03, 2015 Carole-Ann rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An interesting concept: making Isaac Newton an enemy of Benjamin Franklin. Fun and games.
Shauna Scheets
Jun 07, 2014 Shauna Scheets rated it it was amazing
Fun story that makes you want to re-visit history of the period.
Ashley D--
Feb 18, 2012 Ashley D-- rated it it was amazing
Shelves: adults, steampunk
If you liked His Dark Materials trilogy by Pullman, this one has similar magic/daemon elements in it, but is a bit more steampunky. Loved all of the cool ideas in this series and the characters were awesome. Not being American, I didn't think I'd give a crap about Ben Franklin, but I liked him and found all of the historical details really interesting. Wasn't sure about the "mystical American Indian" stuff that comes up later in the series, but considering that the mysticism isn't unique to him, ...more
Feb 10, 2016 Jcledezma rated it did not like it
Nah, gave up
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Gregory Keyes is a writer of science fiction and fantasy who has written both original and media-related novels under both the names J. Gregory Keyes and "Greg Keyes".

Greg Keyes was born in to a large, diverse, storytelling family. He received degrees in anthropology from Mississippi State and the University of George before becoming a fulltime writer.
He lives in Savannah, Georgia.
More about Greg Keyes...

Other Books in the Series

Age of Unreason (4 books)
  • A Calculus of Angels (Age of Unreason, #2)
  • Empire of Unreason (Age of Unreason, #3)
  • The Shadows of God (Age of Unreason, #4)

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