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Phoenix Rising (Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences #1)

3.72 of 5 stars 3.72  ·  rating details  ·  4,626 ratings  ·  688 reviews
In Victorian England, Londoners wash up dead on Thames, drained of blood and bone. Clandestine Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences is forbidden to investigate. But Eliza Braun, with bulletproof corset, fondness for dynamite, remarkable devices, drags along timorous new partner Wellington Books, of encyclopedic brain, against Phoenix intent on enslaving Britons.
Paperback, 402 pages
Published April 26th 2011 by Harper Voyager
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Soulless by Gail CarrigerLeviathan by Scott WesterfeldBoneshaker by Cherie PriestPerdido Street Station by China MiévilleThe Time Machine by H.G. Wells
Best Steampunk Books
22nd out of 695 books — 3,297 voters
Soulless by Gail CarrigerPhoenix Rising by Philippa BallantineChangeless by Gail CarrigerBlameless by Gail CarrigerThe Last Adventure of Dr. Yngve Hogalum by D.L. Mackenzie
2nd out of 330 books — 554 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Okay, Steampunk, here's the deal...the freshness has worn off, the splash has dried up and you have become as ubiquitous as Starbucks in the world of science fiction and fantasy.

Remember when Starbucks & Steampunk were both the bright-eyed, hipster, upstart new kid on the block basking in their novelty and unique approach and nose-thumbing at the old guard of the status quo? Well, like Starbucks, Steampunk has grown fat and happy and become the status quo. Everywhere you turn, you can see i
Steampunk is an odd mesh of history, fantasy and technology that frequently suffers from inconsistent blending. Perhaps I will have to agree with Kerry's review and declare "genre incompatibility." Like the loud drunk guy at a party, it is at times mildly funny, then unintelligibly serious, but always focused on getting some action and ultimately annoying. Undoubtedly, if you stand by him too long, there will be beer spilled on your shoes.

Phoenix made a pass and missed me. First, there is the t
It’s not often that I read a book with quite this dynamic. The heroine is the daring, dynamic one in the investigating duo. The hero is the adorably proper and nerdy Archivist who finds his combustible new partner a trial to him. Eliza and Wellington have both become rather set in their roles. When they find themselves partnered and forced to work together it’s a learning experience for them both.

All poor Wellington wants to do is work behind the scenes and rule his little domain in the Archives
Soo I am a fan of Philippa's other series, Geist, but I didn't actually see that she wrote THIS book until after, haha.

I enjoyed this book a lot. The main character's voice, like in Geist, was definitely one of the biggest strengths, and the other characters were well-drawn. This is a cool steampunk world that actually worked for me, I enjoyed the idea of a secret bureau, and the tech and description of the world and items in it was enjoyable.

I guess the only things I could say negative were tha
Isa Lavinia
Poor writing (too much tell, not enough show), poor editing, poor pacing, lazy characterizations, and a plot that managed, somehow, to be both absurd and boring. The dialogue desperately tried to be witty but always fell short.

Also, Books and Braun? Come on, now.

The actual steampunk bits (the gadgets and the like) were interesting, hence the 2 stars rating (because I can't give it a 1.5).

And I still can't forgive this:

“It was believed that Ferdinand Magellan was one of its members.”
Eliza blinked
(3.5 stars) Wellington Books and Eliza Braun are agents in the Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences, taking on the uncanny in the name of Queen and country. Agent Books is a straitlaced archivist — don’t call him a librarian — who enjoys mechanical tinkering and his peaceful job among the Ministry’s old files. Agent Braun is an outspoken New Zealand transplant who loves to blow things up. At the beginning of Phoenix Rising, the two agents land themselves in the doghouse with the Ministry and are ass ...more
Kerry Allen
Quit on page 22.

My last shot at steampunk. It always seems more interested in exploring the minute details of incomprehensible gadgets than the inner workings of the characters. Since engaging characters are a reading priority of mine, I declare genre incompatibility.

In the two chapters I read of this particular offering: Profuse character self-description (sometimes I feel like the only person who doesn't believe it's natural to pepper my internal dialogue with remarks about my own appearance)
After the first pages of Pip Ballantine’s and Tee Morris’ Phoenix Rising: A Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences Novel I was under the impression of heading into a hilarious and almost slapsticky Steampunk adventure. Eliza Brown and Wellington Books, the central protagonists, were simply too much of a missmatch and their initial “conversations” too comical. I had several good laughs.
Gradually, the lightheartedness leaves the novel, though. Keeping pace with the developments, the comical nature of th
Rashika (is tired)
Actual Rating 3.5

This was ridiculously fun and my only issue is that I wish there had been a little more mystery and perhaps a little more spark. Either way, HERE I COME SEQUELS.

This is the fun new start to a steampunk series. It was a slow-starter for me, but I liked the world building a lot, and I loved the main characters. It was fun seeing the usual dynamic turned on it's head: Eliza Braun was the ass-kicker, and Wellington Books was the brain (I am sure you could guess that from the names *laugh*). It was a lot of fun watching them banter.

I only wish that we'd gotten a little better groundwork laid, in terms of who the players are in this series. The bad
Jessie  (Ageless Pages Reviews)
Read This Review & More Like It On My Blog!

4.5 out of 5

This was just great fun for me to read once it hit its stride - Phoenix Rising has nice mix of the best elements: a finely tuned use of steampunk and its gadgets, two vastly different but strangely compatible, rounded main characters, amusing banter, and a plethora of smart antagonists against which to pit their brains and Braun. The first hundred pages are used quite effectively to establish each of the individual characters and the wor
Aug 09, 2011 Chris rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Downy Jr or Cumberpatch Sherlock Holmes lovers
Don't judge a book by its cover. Yeah, but readers do it all the time. It's sad, but we have too - there so many books out there. In some ways, the covers become the short-cuts - romantic covers look one way, fantasy covers another.

But then you have books like this one. I really wasn't sure if I should pick this up. But I figured what the h*ll, Borders is leaving.
But just take a look at that cover. Honestly, what woman, outside of Lady Gaga, would go out in Victorian London, even a steampunk ver
Out of perhaps misplaced loyalty to a fellow New Zealander, I try hard to like Philippa Ballantine's stuff. Chasing the Bard I enjoyed, but up until now I've never been able to finish anything else of hers, or Tee Morris's.

I read this one all the way to the end, though, and although I nearly gave up in the middle, I'm glad I stayed for the big boom.

Major publishing houses no longer seem to give decent editing to first novels, and Phoenix Rising is no exception. It's full of small errors of wor
Ben Babcock
Why did no one tell me this book existed until now????!!!!111

Seriously, it took a careful browsing of the library’s New Paperbacks section to discover the second and third books in this series. A quick hop to the nearby computer (which I think is running some kind of locked-down Ubuntu if the font anti-aliasing is anything to go by) to check the library’s catalogue, and sure enough, Phoenix Rising was in the stacks of that branch. Have I mentioned how much I love my library?

A quick glance at the
Mike (the Paladin)
Well...I may need to add a new shelf. This is a fantasy and fits (depending on your personal definition of the term) into the Urban Fantasy milieu (as it takes place largely in Victorian London. But it's not "our" Victorian London. This is (I believe) the first Steampunk I've ever really liked. This could change things big time for me...I was never a Steampunk fan.

Okay, back to business. Good book, maybe not great, maybe total brain brain candy, but fun. We start with the requisite kick-butt hot
colleen the contrarian  ± (... never stop fighting) ±

The first chapter starts with a bang (see, I can do puns, too), and we're thrust into the world of Books and Braun.

Yes - Books (the Archivist/librarian/stuffy one) and Braun (the muscle/spunky/fighter). (There is also a character named Bruce Campbell, which may or may not be a nod to the man with the chin, and a couple named Barnabas and Angelique Collins - though they are of little consequence to the story.)


One thing I often expect from books set in Victorian England, and which I o
Lindsay Stares
I had forgotten the premise of this book between the time I requested the galley and the time I read it. This did not improve the experience, as I was not mentally prepared for steampunk. Bear that in mind.

Premise: Archivist Wellington Books and Agent Eliza Braun are thrown together by their jobs at the Ministry, but must learn to work together and trust each other in order to track down and foil the secret society endangering steampunk Victorian England.

Is it me? I would think steampunk should
Angela James
Note: I got this book as an ARC from HarperCollins via NetGalley. I hope they don't decide to never give me another book again!

Straight up: I only read the first 1/3 of this book and then the last 3 chapters, so I didn't read the whole thing. I'm going to tell you why. I wanted to like this book (kind of desperately wanted to like it because I'm eager for a new steampunk series) and I thought the book started off really well. Unfortunately, as I went on, I found myself feeling disconnected from
Kathy (Kindle-aholic)
Jun 03, 2011 Kathy (Kindle-aholic) rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: anyone who loves steampunk, gadgets and adventure
Shelves: steampunk
4.5 Stars

I grew up watching Wild Wild West, The Avengers, and Sherlock Holmes re-runs, and this book felt like coming home.

This one was so much fun to read. I really loved it. Lots of adventure, gadgets, the brassy Eliza Braun with her love of explosives and weaponry, the dapper Wellington Books with his love of order and gadgetry. They are completely mismatched, which means of course that they make absolutely perfect partners. They just don't know it yet.

As a punishment for their respective sc
Amanda Makepeace
What can I say about Phoenix Rising… Could there be a more awesome and deliciously fun steampunk novel? I think not! The first book in the Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences series is full of mystery, diabolic secret societies, fantastic steampunk devices and enough Victorian mayhem to make the Brontë sisters blush.

But let’s be practical for a moment. A book can have all the inner workings, but for me the characters are what seal the deal. The chemistry between Eliza D. Braun and Wellington Books
I’m having a bit of a bad run. REAMDE was obnoxiously long and mostly not good so I went after a bit of steampunk book candy in Phoenix Rising, which turned out to be mostly not good. I wrote in my review of The Wise Man’s Fear that a good book can capture your attention and power you through exhaustion. Conversely, a bad book will put you right to sleep. I feel asleep six times trying to finish Phoenix Rising, and two of those times were in the middle of the day. It could be that I’ve read enou ...more
Phoenix Rising

Fast, entertaining, gripping, and humorous. Phoenix Rising features a dynamic duo with great chemistry and a lot of enjoyable banter. Great world-building and characterisation. Also: depiction of sexual debauchery including the drugging of unwilling participants and hunting humans. There’s some discussion of the feeling of superiority and subsequent entitlement. We get books, and gadgets, and seriously villainous villains, and kick-ass heroes.

Gender roles are tweaked in this steam
Shelley aka Gizmo's Reviews
*Genre* Steampunk
*Rating* 4


Phoenix Rising is set in the late 1890’s London where Queen Victoria rules. Yet, there are those who don’t much care for her, or her policies and want to see her rule end and replaced by something else entirely. The villains don’t much care for those from the colonies and want them returned to their home countries immediately. It’s a city that has dirigibles, and mechanical men. Even Books has created a new technology that can actually locate a certain person l
This one is really hard to rate. I loved how it started, just like I loved a lot of the individual chapters. Unfortunately, sometimes the chapters seemed a little too individual, in the sense that it was sometimes hard to transition from one chapter to the next. I think if you were reading each chapter as a separate installment of the story (instead of reading it in one sitting) it would be less noticeable.

The publisher compared this to Carriger's Soulless series, which in some ways makes sense
A solid first outing for this series. While hearkening to the fun of The Avengers (The British secret agents), it also brings a Victorian National Treasure vibe. The steampunk is there, but while the story features a healthy dose of gadgets, it feels like the steampunk is more flavor than anything critical to the plot.

This can be a good thing though, as the writing never strays from plot for the sake of "ooh, shiny!" I will echo previous sentiment by saying there was a bit too much exposition fo
Probably 3.5 stars, I was expecting a little more action but it was a pretty even split between mystery and action.

So we have a steampunk novel set in the mid 1800's. Our main characters are agents in The Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences, an underfunded and sometimes scorned department of the Crown. We have Wellington Books(ha,ha) archivist and Eliza Braun(ha,ha) field agent. It's a nice little twist considering the time period, she's the brash one while he's more staid and mysterious. There are
Lis Carey
It's sometime in the late 1890s--late Victorian London, and Wellington Thornhill Books, Archivist for the Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences is kidnapped, whisked away to an Antarctic stronghold for, ahem, questioning, and is rescued by Ministry field agent Eliza D. Braun. (Yes, Books and Braun, but really, you have to forgive the authors for it, or at least I do!) Alas, Eliza is a bit free with her use of explosives in the process, and blowing up the headquarters of the House of Usher without act ...more
CJ - let me hold both your hands in the holes of my sweater

I believe there must be a rule that says all knew Steampunk novels must start off slow, involve automatons serving food and then trying to kill you and explosions with large scale destruction.

On that note, this story follows Eliza Braun and Wellington Brooks, both agents of the crown with opposite personalities and interests. Wellington is safe and seemingly tamping down on some wicked past psychological issues while Eliza is ignoring her past and living life with the veneer of living it to t
Kristin  (MyBookishWays Reviews)
You may also read my review here:

Phoenix Rising is the first in what I hope will be a long-lived Steampunk series by Pip Ballantine and Tee Morris. They make such a wonderful writing duo and I could certainly see Pip’s touch in this book (she also writes great fantasy as Philippa Ballantine), and although I don’t have experience (yet) with Tee’s previous work, I have no doubt he’s just as talented!

The novel opens with the lovely Eliza Braun saving the li
Seriously? One of the most amazing steampunk books I've ever read. So funny, sharp and brilliant.

The partnership between Wellington and Eliza works to a tee. She is like a female version of Robert Downey Jr. - cocky, slightly reckless, crazily entertaining and very wordly.

Welly on the other hand is a bit of an enigma. Bookish, prudish and very boring when you just meet him, and yet our gentleman is full of surprises which we uncover only slightly in his acting at the end of the book.

So, wha
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Born and raised in Wellington, New Zealand, Philippa is a writer and podcaster of fantasy fiction.
Immersed in books from an early age, she moved onto to become a librarian. She'd been dreaming of being a writer since a teenager, but in the last ten years she's devoted herself to it.
She's the author of the Books of the Order series from Ace Books. Geist, Spectyr, Wrayth (2012) and Harbinger (2013)
More about Philippa Ballantine...
Geist (Book of the Order, #1) Spectyr (Book of the Order, #2) Wrayth (Book of the Order, #3) Chasing the Bard (Fey #1) Harbinger (Book of the Order, #4)

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“She groaned as her face turned to press against the rosewood floor. "Welly, remind me to order a better mattress for my bed. This one is far too firm."

"Oh, Eliza," Wellington gasped, now remembering why he was in these lush surroundings. "No broken nose, I hope."

"S'all right," Braun slurred. Her voiced dropped to a whisper. "My ample bosom broke my fall.”
“I always think better when I am being shot at.” 4 likes
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