"So we are in the curious position with William Shakespeare of having three likenesses from which all others are derived: two that aren't very good by...more
"So we are in the curious position with William Shakespeare of having three likenesses from which all others are derived: two that aren't very good by artists working years after his death, and one that is rather more compelling as a portrait but that may well be of someone else altogether. The paradoxical consequence is that we all recognize a likeness of Shakespeare the instant we wee one, and yet we don't really know what he looked like. It is like this with nearly every aspect of his life and character: he is at once the best known and least known of figures."(less)
The story continues in the wonderful alternate universe created in the first book, with many of the same characters and plenty of new ones as well. Richard Burton is assigned another case to investigate: that of the Tichborne Claimant. This is an interesting bit of history even in our universe, but it becomes more exciting in the Albertian England where technology is advancing faster than even the tech-savvy can keep up with it and the supernatural is actually possible. Always entertaining, at times hilarious, and with multiple intriguing mysteries going at once, this book is a fantastic read. There are ingenious inventions and innovations, fascinating differences between this universe and ours, and wonderful characters anyone would love to read about. And since the story is full of actual historical figures and events, this book might possibly be even more fun for those who know a lot about the time period.
The writing is just as strong and funny in this second book book as it was in the first, although since the story takes place over a much longer stretch of time, there are periods and events that are skipped over in the telling, which was a bit disconcerting. Even so, I truly enjoyed every page of this book, and desperately hope there will be more in the series. I picked up the first one because the cover looked cool on the front and beautiful on the back--and I ended up with a new favorite author and a new favorite series! I can't say how excited these books make me without sounding like a teenage girl, but I genuinely do love this book and I highly recommend it to anyone who's read the first book.
Here are some of my favorite bits: The zombie rakes very politely trying to eat people (sadly, I didn't copy any of my favorite lines from this part, and I'm moving soon and have already packed the book away). Parakeet message:
"'Message from that dung-squeezer, Detective Inspector Trounce. Message begins. Word has reached me that you're back on your feet, you dirty shunt-knobbler. I'll call round at eight this evening. Message ends.'"
There are of course plenty of Oscar Wilde quotes:
"'Ah, well now, whenever people agree with me I always feel I must be wrong.'"
"'It seems to me that the only way to get rid of a temptation is to yield to it.'"
"'Have you seen the news yourself, sir?' 'Not yet. I've had my nose in books.' 'Then you must be the exception that proves the rule, for I have it in mind that the difference between literature and journalism is that journalism is unreadable and literature is not read!'"
Herbert Spencer's philosophizing:
"There is a principle which is a bar against all information, which is proof against all arguments, and which cannot fail to keep a man in everlasting ignorance--that principle is contempt prior to investigation; contempt carved from the immovable rock of faith."
"'It isn't possible to know if the reality you perceive is all there is. You can only deal with what you are cognizant of.'...'Knowledge is phenomenal?'...'We might only be aware of a small portion of reality, but it is reality nevertheless, so however we apprehend it, that apprehension has validity. Existence is, then, I posit, a continuous adjustment of internal relations to external relations.'"
"Resistance to aggression is not simply justified, but imperative."
"In fact, I contend not only that anyone can do it, but that we all do! Destiny is not fixed. It is the ever-changing consequence of uncountable actions--actions undertaken by every single person of the face of the planet...even the most obscure, uneducated, unimaginative nobody can, and does, make a difference."
And one more parakeet:
"'I think I can safely predict that this attempt will be a great deal less traumatic than the last!' Pox let loose a terrific shriek: 'Bollocks!'"
'Tommy Taylor: "It's--it's just a STORY, man. It's not worth DYING for!" 'Count Ambrosio: "Just a STORY? Tell that to the Greeks who fought at Troy, To...more'Tommy Taylor: "It's--it's just a STORY, man. It's not worth DYING for!" 'Count Ambrosio: "Just a STORY? Tell that to the Greeks who fought at Troy, Tommy." 'Tommy: "Wh- What?" 'Count Ambrosio: "Tell the women BURNED as witches. The ROSENBERGS. Sacco and Vanzetti. Tell the MARTYRS of all the religions and the millions who fell in all the WARS since time began. Stories are the ONLY thing worth dying for!"(less)