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The Bookman (The Bookman Histories #1)

3.32 of 5 stars 3.32  ·  rating details  ·  1,071 ratings  ·  195 reviews
A masked terrorist has brought London to its knees - there are bombs inside books, and nobody knows which ones. On the day of the launch of the first expedition to Mars, by giant cannon, he outdoes himself with an audacious attack. For young poet Orphan, trapped in the screaming audience, it seems his destiny is entwined with that of the shadowy terrorist, but how? Like a ...more
ebook, 416 pages
Published September 28th 2010 by HarperCollins Publishers
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Dan Schwent
Just minutes before a space cannon launches a probe to Mars, a terrorist called The Bookman kills poet Orphan's love in an explosion. Orphan's quest for the truth about her death takes him below the streets of London, aboard the Nautilus with Jules Verne and Captain Nemo, and to the mysterious island home of Les Lezards, the lizard men who rule the world...

Okay, now this is what all steampunk books should aspire to be! What Lavie Tidhar has done in The Bookman is simply marvelous. Most of the st
Jeffrey Keeten
”Everywhere he looked there were books.

They rose into the air in majestic columns, stacks and stacks of them forming a maze that seemed to stretch to forever; the stacks rose high into the air and disappeared towards the unseen ceiling. The air had the overwhelming smell of old books, of polished leather and yellowing leaves, like the smell of a bookshop or a public library magnified a thousand-fold.”

 photo SteampunkBook_zps1598a8fd.jpg

Orphan is a poet, not just a poet in desire, but actually a published poet. He is in love with
♍ichael Ƒierce
Apr 02, 2015 ♍ichael Ƒierce rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans of steampunk, Jules Verne, Sherlock Holmes, Blade Runner, and nearly everyone else

When I first caught sight of this book cover, I was immediately taken in.


I wanted to read the synopsis but felt that if I did, there was a good chance it would spoil some of the surprises for me best left for later down the road.

So, I didn't.

It was enough for me that it was steampunk, obviously influenced by Jules Verne, had airships in it, and I'd accidentally caught wind that there were lizard men in it. *Drool*.

I did my research and from the reviews + info I found, Lavie Tidhar, sounded lik
And so, not worrying about selling, not worrying about markets-- all the things I was doing with my aborted trilogy-- I began writing The Bookman.

For fun.

It would have all the things I love, I decided. Automatons and airships, poetry and magic, the underworld, and the London sewers. It would have chases and escapes! And a quest, of sort, done for love.

And so I wrote it. Like my hero, Orphan, I did it for love. And I had fun doing it…

It was the sort of book I could research by drinking in pubs. O
Richard Reviles Censorship Always in All Ways
Rating: 3* of five

The Publisher Says: A masked terrorist has brought London to its knees -- there are bombs inside books, and nobody knows which ones. On the day of the launch of the first expedition to Mars, by giant cannon, he outdoes himself with an audacious attack.

For young poet Orphan, trapped in the screaming audience, it seems his destiny is entwined with that of the shadowy terrorist, but how? His quest to uncover the truth takes him from the hidden catacombs of London on the brink of
Apr 13, 2012 Terry rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Easter egg hunters, Alan Moore, Jess Nevins
Shelves: fantasy, steampunk
2.5 – 3 stars

I’m a bit torn about _The Bookman_. On the one hand it exemplifies a lot of the key elements of steampunk. One the other hand it exemplifies a lot of the key elements of steampunk. Maybe I should explain.

I’m not quite sure where I stand in regards to steampunk as a genre. In many ways it seems to me less a genre than an excuse for cosplay on the one hand and fan fiction on the other. I mean once you get rid of the goggles and corsets, the airships and gears what have you really got?
May 06, 2014 Brandon rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommended to Brandon by: Dan Schwent
When I was a kid, there was this TV special that combined a lot of the more famous cartoon characters at the time. The special was used as a deterrent for kids to avoid drug and alcohol use. You had the likes of Alf, the Muppets and the Ninja Turtles teaming up with Bugs Bunny and others to stop a child from going down the wrong path. Seeing this "dream team" of characters all combined on one program blew my fragile little mind.

The reason I bring this up is because Lavie Tidhar does something a
colleen the fabulous fabulaphile
There are a lot of good ideas in this book, but, in a way, I think that's part of its problem. There are too many ideas, and it felt like the author just had to include them all.

Set in an alt-reality Victorian England, where Victoria, and all the royalty, are Lizards from another planet (yes, boys and girls - meet the Reptilian Overlords), we enter this Steampunkish world which has, in a way, simply too much tech. Babbage Engines and Edison recorders and Tesla wires (radios) and submarines and r
Jun 04, 2011 Natalie rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: steampunk fans, holmes fans, literature lovers with a sense of humour and adventure
An adventurous yet literary steampunkish tale.
Here's what other goodreads reviewers who've fallen for this book have said

. . . and I, for one,agree with 'em (mostly) Why? Because literary and historical references and persons abound, and the intricate plot continually surprises, fun stuff!

But you are going to need to take along a few things to enjoy the journey. Here's what I recommend:

An undergraduate or graduate degree in English literature or maybe just the The Oxford Companion to English L
Take authentic details from the Victorian and Edwardian Eras such as “The Turk,” the famous automaton chess player, activists like Isabella Beeton, the infamous (and apparently ubiquitous in this style of literature) Jack the Ripper, Tom Thumb of circus fame, and the works of literature by Wilde and Wordsworth, mix in ingredients as varied as Neil Gaiman’s tale of British royalty involved with Cthulhu, H. G. Wells’ Island of Doctor Moreau, Jules Vernes’ Nautilus and Mysterious Island, Stevenson’ ...more
Set in an alternative version of 19th century earth, with a point of divergence to our timeline sometime in the early 16th century, The Bookman is without a doubt the most enjoyable, fascinating and captivating book I have read in a long time. It has managed to claim the throne as my favorite steampunk novel from Moorcock’s A Nomad of the Time Streams.

The Bookman is steampunk on multiple levels. Not only because of the plot and the world with its automatons, simulacra and the giant space cannon,
This book I picked up (along with the other two in the Bookman series) was a gamble - partly because the cover looked interesting and partly from the sheer scope and audacity of the preface of the story.

Well what did I think - okay I can say that there are a lot of comments and opinions about this books and the series in general and so far I can see reasons for most of them. yes the story does shift gears from fast to slow in stages to the point where you find yourself dragging through pages of
Ben Babcock
I’m hesitant about proclaiming love for historical fiction. To me it’s just a genre that can be so hard to get right. Take too many liberties, and it’s not really historical any more, is it? But don’t take enough liberties, try to follow the actual course of history (as best we know it) too slavishly, and then it’s not really fiction…. The best historical fiction is the kind that follows the main narrative but tries to give the reader a glimpse at the people behind the dates and events, makes th ...more
Milena Benini
I should have been crazy about this book. It's a steampunk book set in Victorian London in which queen Victoria is a lizard, Moriarty is the Prime Minister, lord Byron is an automaton giving readings, and the main character -- Orphan -- is friends with an old guy called Gilgamesh. There are also whales in the Thames, and Jules Verne makes an appearance later on. Also, the London in question is a grimy place where machines produce grit and pollute the air, and a bunch of weirdoes plotting an upri ...more
Stephen Winterflood

Steampunk is a genre tag that is very popular with publishers, and also apparently readers, so they love to slap it on any fantasy that is set around the Victorian period. Most of these books don’t fit the title as they don’t feature any punk aspects to them. The Bookman is a Steampunk novel in the true sense of the word as it literally features punks within its story, although this might be we suspect a wink towards said genre title.

The other aspect of punk, the underclass rebellious society is
Not sure what to make of this. It reminds me of a lot of other steampunk I've read, it's fun enough as a diversion, it was an easy and a quick read... it just didn't work for me, somehow. The patchwork quilt of literary and historical references, the rather perfunctory love story, heck, the rather perfunctory main character...

There's a lot of fun to be had here, in the adventure plot and the wild sequence of ideas, but it's not something I could really take seriously, somehow. I was reminded a l
Gregor Xane
Although there were plenty of cool things going on in this book (a lot of things I liked quite a bit), and plenty of action scenes, I was never truly swept up in the adventure. I'm not sure why. Perhaps it's because the protagonist was more of a puppet than a character with any real agency. I do understand this fit thematically (chess, pawns, etc.), but it still may have contributed to my lack of investment. Will I read the next book in the series? Perhaps.
3.5 stars. I went in prepared to give it the benefit of the doubt because I'd read a bit of the author's short fiction and knew he was both very creative and also capable of writing things that could be very touching. And I'd read some really stellar reviews of his books, this one included. Which was good that I was prepared to give it some time because it started off really weird. Alice in Wonderland weird, with all kinds of historical and literary references and talking lizards ruling England ...more
Jul 14, 2011 Tony rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: steampnk fans
This is yet another great release from Angry Robot Books. It was purchased for the price of 99p from Amazon UK. That is less that a cup of coffee, less even than a vote for Britain’s got “talent”. This book is so cheap I almost feel guilty.

Lavie Tidhar is an interesting person to follow on Twitter, or to read short stories by. I don’t always agree with what he says, but he is nearly always thought provoking.

This book is different from all the other Angry Robot books I have read so far. Normally
To put it plainly, this novel offers a smorgasbord of steampunk goodness. Zeppelins, automatons, floating islands, cannon-fired space flight, lizard people, and a countless array of literary cameos from the Victorian and Edwardian eras. Oh, and somewhere in all that there is a sweeping adventure.

Orphan is a young poet, hopelessly in love with Lucy, who is set to take part in the launching ceremony of the first venture in unmanned spaceflight. But, a notorious terrorist known only as the Bookman
Barry Huddleston
Need a taste of some steampunk goodness? Try "The Bookman" by Lavie Tidhar.

Imagine a Victorian England with blimps dotting the sky, Automatons roaming the streets, and brushing elbows with legends from historical fact and fiction. That, and reptilian royalty, is the background for "The Bookman." The story is very much what you will find in classical heroic fiction.

Our Arthurian-like protagonist, by the name of Orphan, is propelled into the mystery while seeking revenge for the murder of his gir
Just finished this novel and it's superb; a cross of steampunk/lizard invasion a la Turtledove/Victoriana with a London cca 1890-1900 where Professor Moriarty (that one) is Prime Minister at the court of the Calibanic Kings - Queen Victoria is now from the lizard race - who were discovered/revived by Amerigo Vespucci on his return voyage from "Vespucciana" (ie America) which "today" is still a land of the indigenous people with some colonists, and whom took power in England aka The Everlasting E ...more
I read the 2nd book in the Bookman Histories, Camera Obscura, last year and really enjoyed it. I was excited to go back and read the book that started it all. Unfortunately this book was just okay for me; I had trouble engaging with the characters and the story just seemed to drag on and on.

I listened to this on audiobook which I do not recommend. The narrator distinguished between voices of different characters well, but his choices for voices were often shrill and obnoxious. There were charact
Jul 18, 2011 Woodge rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: lizards from space
This was such an odd tale, by turns strange, chock-full of literary references, and compelling. The setting is an alternative Victorian London in which sentient lizards from a mysterious island have taken over the crown, automatons are commonplace, and the title character is a terrorist using books as bombs. The protagonist is the oddly named Orphan who loses his lover to one of the Bookman's bombs and sets off to find the elusive character. It's a strange trip filled with characters borrowed fr ...more
Megan Baxter
For all the steampunk fantasy I've been recently, as well as traditional Western medieval fantasy, this was one that stood out as having its own voice, something to say about that genre, and that incorporated literature and intrigue in interesting ways. It's not a perfect book, but the voice of the author is strong, and I forgive the small faults because the overall ideas and characters are so interesting.

Note: The rest of this review has been withdrawn due to the changes in Goodreads policy an
"I think a lot about the might-have-beens, the what-ifs. About the little places in history where one tiny, minute change can lead to a new and unimaginable future. It's like chess, so many permutations, probabilities, choices, cross-roads...I think a lot about the future, our future. And I see uncertainty.”
This quote quite captures Tidhar's approach to creating his stories (the ones I've read and the ones I've heard about). There is some major twist that takes an otherwise historical piece into
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Melissa McShane
The Bookman is a steampunk/alternate history chock-full of literary characters--so full that it's surprising the book isn't overwhelmed by them. The premise: sometime in the very early 16th century, lizard-like aliens were discovered on a remote Caribbean island, and proceeded to conquer most of the western world. As the story opens, they've been ruling Great Britain for a couple of centuries, long enough that most people just accept Les Lezards as their masters. All this is background, though, ...more
Review Brought to you by OBS Staff member Erin

Beware of spoilers

I thought the book sounded good when I read the description online. By page 14 I knew I was in love. Oscar Wilde is working on “The Importance of Being Something”, Moriarty (yes, THAT Moriarty) is Prime Minister and sending a space probe to Mars, complete with an Edison recording of whale songs. I love alternate history, and this is alternate history at its best. Combining real people with mythical characters, Lavie Tidhar picks and
Beth Cato
I've been trying to read lots of steampunk books; it seems that I either love them or can't stand them. This one is rare because it falls in the middle: a well-written book that's a bit too weird for my tastes, but still enjoyable.

In this alternative Victorian England, Amerigo Vespucci discovered an Island of Caliban in the Caribbean. Intelligent lizard people there then took over, working their way into high British society and taking over the throne itself. There are many steampunk elements br
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Lavie Tidhar was raised on a kibbutz in Israel. He has travelled extensively since he was a teenager, living in South Africa, the UK, Laos, and the small island nation of Vanuatu.

Tidhar began publishing with a poetry collection in Hebrew in 1998, but soon moved to fiction, becoming a prolific author of short stories early in the 21st century.

Temporal Spiders, Spatial Webs won the 2003 Clarke-Bradb
More about Lavie Tidhar...

Other Books in the Series

The Bookman Histories (3 books)
  • Camera Obscura (The Bookman Histories, #2)
  • The Great Game (The Bookman Histories, #3)
Osama The Violent Century Camera Obscura (The Bookman Histories, #2) A Man Lies Dreaming The Great Game (The Bookman Histories, #3)

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“For one crazy moment he had the notion of a vanished tribe of librarians, lost in the deep underground caverns of the Bodleian, a wild and savage tribe that fed on unwary travellers.” 8 likes
“Pawns are such fascinating pieces, too...So small, almost insignificant, and yet--they can depose kings. Don't you find that interesting?” 7 likes
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