The last chapter of the dimension-spanning Daedalus series brings the 19th and 22nd centuries together for an explosive finale in the jungles of Venus!
In the year 2135, dangerous alien life forms freed in the destruction of Saturn's moon Enceladus are making their way towards Earth. A task force spearheaded by Lt. Cmdr. Shaila Jain is scrambling to beat them there while simultaneously trying to save crewmember Stephane Durand, who was infected during the mission to Saturn and is now controlled by a form of life intent on reopening a transdimensional rift and destroying the human race. But Jain doesn’t realize that the possessed Stephane has bigger plans, beaming critical data to other conspirators suspiciously heading not for Earth, but for Venus…
In 1809—a Napoleonic era far different from our own—the French have occupied England with their Corps Eternélle, undead soldiers risen through the darkest Alchemy. Only the actions of Lord Admiral Thomas Weatherby and the Royal Navy have kept the French contained to Earth. But the machinations of old enemies point to a bold and daring gambit: an ancient weapon, presumed lost in the jungles of Venus.
Now, Weatherby must choose whether to stay and fight to retake his homeland or pursue the French to the green planet. And Shaila must decide if it’s possible to save the man she loves, or if he must be sacrificed for the good of two dimensions. In the dark, alien jungles of Venus, humanity's fate in both dimensions hangs in the balance—forcing past and present to once again join forces against an ancient terror.
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There are few places where you can read about a zombie army led by Napoleon that conquers England by walking under the English Channel, but Michael J. Martinez’s The Venusian Gambit is one of them. This is the third and final chapter in the Daedalus series where our heroes from two different parallel timelines must work together to prevent an ancient alien evil from conquering all of the realities. This has been a fun series to read and I enjoyed how it combined swashbuckling adventure of an earlier era with the hard SF thriller of contemporary times. So what did I think about The Venusian Gambit?
We find Lt. Cmdr. Shaila Jain of our (potential) 22nd century in hot pursuit of a hijacked Chinese ship as it rockets toward Earth carrying with it the alien plague it acquired from the remains of Enceladus and Shalia’s lover, Stephane Durand, who is now possessed by the spirit of an ancient Martian warrior (seriously, if you haven’t read The Daedalus Incident and The Enceladus Crisis, stop now because you won’t know what the hell I am talking about). Luckily she and the rest of Project DAEDALUS manage to stop the ship before it reaches Earth, but not before the possessed crew broadcasts a signal to unknown conspirators on Earth. The mystery on what the message contains, plus the clues given by a Durand (who overcame his possession) leads Shalia and her comrades to the hostile planet of Venus.
Meanwhile, in an alternate 18th century where magic exists and planets of the Solar System can support life, Britain is on the ropes, having been driven behind Hadrian’s Wall by Napoleon’s army of alchemy infused revenants. The only thing preventing the French from conquering the Known Worlds is the Royal Navy led by Thomas Weatherby, now an admiral and married to his long-time sweetheart. They have kept the French contained, but Weatherby learns that the French are mounting an expedition to Venus and after the reappearance of an ancient alien artifact, he becomes convinced that the only hope for his homeland lies somewhere on that jungle world. After setting off with his fleet, the two timelines begin to converge again as the final battle for the fate humanity begins.
As I have said before, I really enjoyed reading this series and The Venusian Gambit was a good way to end it. The world-building in the novel was excellent. For example, Weatherby’s timeline has always been more historical fiction than alternate history, as history played out as you would have expext even with the cosmological changes to reality. In The Venusian Gambit, however, we see most of England occupied and the King imprisoned, while the Prince of Wales leads a government-in-exile in Scotland, dependent on the Royal Navy to protect them at all costs. This scenario actually reminds me a lot of Greece circa the Battle of Salamis, which was a nice touch. Meanwhile, Shalia’s 22nd century has been fleshed out more. I especially like the interplanetary ship named after Chris Hadfield and the fact that Afghanistan reinvented itself as a corporate haven for the rich and corrupt. There are still aspects about the future I would have liked to learn more about, but that didn’t detract from the story at all in my opinion.
Martinez characters remain complex and I am happy he kept averting many over-used tropes. I was certain we were going to see some weird romance between Weatherby’s and Anne’s children (who each have a different set of biological parents), but thankfully their relationship remained platonic. Nevertheless, I was a little surprised we didn’t learn that Durand regaining control over his body was just a ruse. We knew the alien was still inside him and Durand did a lot of weird things that made me suspect that the tricky Martian was still in control. For example, at one point when their ship was collapsing around them, Shalia orders Durand to save a bumbling scientists. When she turns around she hears a scream and next thing she knows the scientist is dead and Durand can only apologize for not being able to save them. I’m sorry, maybe I’m just a suspicious person, but it would seem to the reader that Durand (or whomever is possessing him) had just murdered a guy! Perhaps this is just Martinez averting another ago old trope, but I could have sworn up to the very end that Durand could not be trusted.
Since I did read an uncorrected proof, I can’t speak about the spelling and grammar errors, only the story. Luckily, I can recommend The Venusian Gambit, but trust me when I say that you will want to start from the beginning with The Daedalus Incident or else you will be completely lost. The Daedalus series was a fun mash-up of different genres and The Venusian Gambit managed to have a satisfying conclusion while leaving us with just enough uncertainty to keep it realistic. Will Martinez write more books set in his multiverse? I don’t know, perhaps I will ask him when I get the chance, but whatever he writes I am sure to pick up a copy.
I'm not entirely sure I followed the previous two books in the trilogy - I can remember very little of them. However, I did give them both 4-stars, so they must have made an impact at the time. Hopefully I'll remember this one a little better, as it's a massively enjoyable romp of fantasy, science-fiction and time-jumping dimensional rifts - as the future and an alternative past where the Royal Navy flys wooden ships to Venus to try and beat the French, before a Martian warlord from the previous books tries to break out of the prison that the Saturnian Xan imprisoned him in many years prior. Confused? You won't be...
The Venusian Gambit, book three of the Daedalus Series by Michael J. Martinez, is the grand finale of a unique and exciting sci-fi series. Part of the beauty of this series is that it’s not simply sci-fi, it’s also daring exploits, nail-biting espionage, brilliant war tactics, and mortal danger experienced by characters the reader truly cares about. In short, it’s kick-ass action with great human drama.
In 1803, on an Earth of an alternate history, Rear Admiral Thomas Weatherby continues to fight Napoleon’s devastating invasion of England and its settlements with the help of his brilliant wife Anne and good friend Dr. Andrew Finch, both highly powerful alchemists. Tom’s daughter, Elizabeth and Anne’s son, Philip are now of age and also join in the cause. However, Napoleon is not employing ordinary armed forces, as the French utilize their discovery of a dark alchemical secret to create soldiers from corpses; the relentless “Corps Éternelle”.
Meanwhile in 2134, Major General Maria Diaz and Lt. Commander Shaila Jain are trying to stop a chain of events that may lead to another cross-dimensional rift intended to release an ancient evil back into the world. Jain is also preoccupied by the fact that her lover, Dr. Stephane Durand, had been infected during the Enceladus Crisis and a sentient being entered his body and had taken control. She’s determined to do whatever it takes to get him back.
The Venusian Gambit is a pleasure to read. Martinez’s story just keeps getting better and better. He's found the perfect balance between the alternate past, where sailing ships are powered by alchemy through which they can journey to distant planets and the future, where traditional space travel is powered by science, and technology can be used with nefarious intent. It’s always great fun when the two worlds collide; I especially enjoy the battle scenes where cannon fire is pitted against lasers. Once again, I was glad to spend time with my favorite characters Tom Weatherby and Shaila Jain, and looked forward to their interactions. I also enjoyed the further character development of General Maria Diaz, Elizabeth Weatherby and Philip St. Germain.
Another great thing about the book, and the series, is that Martinez’s cast of characters is diverse. Issues such as sexism are touched upon in a matter of fact way that is never in your face but subtly gets the point across. I was amused, for example, when men of the 19th century found themselves taking orders from a female general from the 22nd and make military faux pas trying to get it right.
I cannot recommend the Daedalus series and The Venusian Gambit in particular, highly enough. A well-written adventure over sea and space on a grand scale amongst many cultures and worlds with fascinating characters, the best of whom exhibit exceptional honor. What’s not to love?
The Venusian Gambit brings the Daedalus series to a satisfying, yet bitter-sweet conclusion. Parting is such sweet sorrow particularly from a series of which I’ve been *blush* a raving fan-boy from the beginning. I am, however, heartened by the fact that Michael Martinez will sail on to new writing horizons. Right now, he’s having a little fun with a story built around the Pathfinder Game, about which more here.
Most of what I loved about this book are what I’ve loved about all of the books in the series, so I won’t tread over ground covered in my review of The Daedulus Incident and review of The Enceladus Crisis. In this review, I’ll focus on some new elements to the series The Venusian Gambit brings. (Amazon has a nice description of the plot.) Note: there are spoilers below for the previous two books in this post. Not going into detail over old ground doesn’t lessen or detract from what I’ve previously said, but I’ll simply summarize what I love most about these books. There are plenty of books with cleverly inspired plots and the idea of these two timelines coming together is brilliant. But the proof of the pudding is the eating and the greatness of a book is in the writing. Execution is everything. In this series, the ideas are fleshed out and live in dialog and pacing, story arc and character. It takes that initial plot line and allows us to live it. We have a sense of the duty and honor that pervade the lives on H.M.S Victory (and the Royal Navy) and (most of) those in the JSC. Not that there aren’t disagreements (and even times when one feels betrayed by what another thought honorable), but the willingness to seek out the best for King (and Queen) and country, even for the known worlds, wins out. Not that the books are morality tales, they are drama filled with hopes, loss, sacrifice, greed and love. We have villains and big damn heroes.
A solid conclusion to a workmanlike series that never really gets past its central (very clever) premise. A solid SF adventure series.
So this series started with hard SF set in the 22nd century era of solar system exploration, but then quickly takes a left turn into an alternate world of the Napoleonic Wars but where alchemy works and sailing ships can sail in the space between worlds. And the worlds of this solar system are inhabited by all means of aliens. And then it proceeds to mash them together.
This book follows on from the victory of the martian warlord's forces to restore him to our universe and sees Lt.Cmdr. Jain in hot pursuit of her possessed lover's ship on it way back from Saturn to Earth. Meanwhile a further 10 years have passed in the alchemical universe and Admiral Weatherby now heads up the English Navy, but the French are winning the war with their undead soldiers.
If the above paragraph sounds like the sort of batshittery that you might like then this series is definitely for you.
Now this is the way to end a trilogy! I will miss several of the characters, though. Well-written, very inventive. All three of the books in this trilogy are excellent! I look forward to many more books from Mr. Martinez. Go read these books!
Although the final book in the Daedalus series is as much a delightful mix of sci-fi, history, and fantasy as the first two, I had a hard time getting into it at first. I might have waited too long after the second book and lost touch with the characters. However, this tale of a fight against a common evil across two dimensions and time periods is so intriguing that I remembered why I loved the saucy, creative, magical characters and fell right back in. It was definitely great to see the gang from 1890 and the gang from 2035 together again!
Let's see...this book has space marines, aliens, zombies, mecha, alchemy, possession, a Martian warlord, colliding universes, and Napoleonic French and English navies duking it out in space. Need I say more? Martinez pretty much made a list of everything awesome and threw them all together to see what happens. It was super fun to read and I'm sad it's over.
The Venusian Gambit is the third book in Michael J. Martinez's Daedalus trilogy. As with the previous two books it follows parallel events involving characters in a futuristic Earth ca. 2135 and an alternate universe where alchemy is real, most of the worlds of the solar system are habitable and sailing ships traverse space (kind of like Philip Reeve's Larklight universe, but it takes itself seriously). Following the events of the previous book, two members of the Daedalus project have become possessed by the souls of Martians from the other universe and are working to continue the ancient Martian warlord Altothas's sinister scheme of revenge, ultimately stealing a spaceship and heading for Venus. In the meantime, in the awesome universe in 1805-1809 the damnable French have invaded England by marching an army of the undead under the English channel and Admiral Weatherby (and family) and General Wellesley are hard-pressed to hold them at Hadrian's Wall. When rumors reach some of Weatherby's associates that the chief French alchemists are plotting something on Venus and, fearing that they seek to unlock more of the power of the Book of the Dead, Weatherby must lead a small force to stop the French at all costs and hopefully discover a means of ending the French Corps Eternel. So everybody's headed to Venus and (SURPRISE!) another meeting of universes.
The Venusian Gambit is a decent end to the trilogy, wrapping up most loose ends, but the book's structure works against it. The science fiction side of the story doesn't really work as well as the fantasy side this time around as the latter is just so interesting while the former is frankly rather bland in terms of characters, events, and world-building (a shame because in the first two books, the two stories are very well balanced and complement each other quite effectively). Moreover, as with book 2 in this book the fantasy side goes through a substantial pair of time jumps which impair character development somewhat and give that side of the story a disjointed feel (especially since this is a fairly short book), which is a shame because (again) that's the side of the story I'm most interested in (again, NAPOLEONIC WAR/SAILING SHIPS IN SPACE! HOW COOL IS THAT!?). I ended up giving it only 3 stars because of these flaws (again, Goodreads, we NEED a 10 star system, or a way to give half-stars! This is a solid 3.5 not a lame 3, but I can't justify calling it a fun 4, so it gets 3 stars: sadness), though I would definitely recommend it to someone who enjoyed the first two books in the series.
This was a good ending to the series. The main characters themselves benefited from this book . They were fleshed out and made into real humans, with emotions and frailties. What was fascinating to me was that even though the main characters came from different times and places, they were able to understand each other and work well together. A person with command authority in one universe easily translated into the other.
The major downside to the book was how disjointed story got at times. There were far too many things to keep straight in order to understand the overlapping universes end the intricate interplay between them. Sometimes, I just had to read the passage multiple times and take it on faith that the important point establishing the environment and the science occurred previously. But, if you're simply looking for a good adventure story with honorable characters, this was an excellent series.
I went back and forth on how I felt about the Daedalus trilogy throughout all three books, but in the end, I have to give this book, and really the entire series, a solid four stars. I think part of what rubbed me the wrong way was that some of the things about 19th-century culture make me pretty uncomfortable . . . but that was probably largely the point. And it does certainly make for some hilarious conversations between the two time periods. This final entry is more exciting than the previous one; I'd say on par with the first book in the series. It fires up fast and doesn't slow down until the very end.
Also, I have to say that my hat is off to Michael Martinez for ending the series here. So many authors will create a universe like this—deep, interesting, full of life and characters—and write it forever. This is the final entry in the Daedalus series, and it ends perfectly.
Napoleon's zombie army threatens England while ancient beings seek to overwhelm the known worlds and multiple dimensions. The Venusian Gambit is a fitting conclusion to this series. Martinez maintains the blend of space opera and historical fantasy that he has built throughout the series. The pacing is high throughout the novel and builds to a satisfying climax for the novel and the story as a whole.
A very satisfying conclusion to a very satisfying series. It's been a long time since since I've read a series which doesn't crumble after the first book (yes, I'm looking at you Maze Runner and Hunger Games...) and this one stayed the course for the whole thing. It's original and a blast to read.
Finally wrapped up this series. Ended on a good note though, sadly, there were casualties. Definitely the end of the series, as I cannot see anywhere else this could go (or go back to either.) I look forward to whatever Martinez brings us next.