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The Custodian of Marvels

(Fall of the Gas-Lit Empire #3)

3.96  ·  Rating details ·  1,016 ratings  ·  143 reviews
You’d have to be mad to steal from the feared International Patent Office. But that’s what Elizabeth Barnabus is about to try. A one-time enemy from the circus has persuaded her to attempt a heist that will be the ultimate conjuring trick.
Hidden in the vaults of the Patent Court in London lie secrets that could shake the very pillars of the Gas-Lit Empire. All that stands
Paperback, 368 pages
Published February 2nd 2016 by Angry Robot
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Rod Duncan Hi there.

I originally planned for 9 books, with Elizabeth featuring in all of them. She will not narrate all the books though.

Hi there.

I originally planned for 9 books, with Elizabeth featuring in all of them. She will not narrate all the books though.

Josiah John Definitely agree with both. There are events referenced in previous books that you won't know about if you just read The Custodian of Marvels first. S…moreDefinitely agree with both. There are events referenced in previous books that you won't know about if you just read The Custodian of Marvels first. Specifically, there are interactions between characters that are developed throughout the previous books that will make more sense if you read as they develop rather than just joining the story late.(less)

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Start your review of The Custodian of Marvels (Fall of the Gas-Lit Empire, #3)
Jan 08, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
~4.5 *

TL;DR: The Custodian of Marvels is alternate history--and steampunk--done right.

The basic setup: after the Napoleonic War, it was decided that technology, unleashed and unconstrained, had too much potential for destruction. The International Patent Office was constructed to perform the
"Separation of seemly science from that which is unseemly, through the granting or withholding of licenses to produce and sell technology."
Almost two centuries on, the Patent Office still has a stranglehol
Richard Derus
Mar 17, 2016 rated it really liked it
2017 UPDATE The first book in the new series featuring Elizabeth Barnabus, titled The Queen of All Crows, arrives at Author Duncan's home! Watch the Big Moment here!


This is a fine, 4-plus star end to Rod Duncan's trilogy, the Fall of the Gas-Lit Empire. Angry Robot, cruel cruel people, tantalize the readers with news of more books to come!

Review over on the blog for a week or so.
David Firmage
Jan 05, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
My favourite of the trilogy, enjoyed the story even though I am still not into most of the characters.
Frank Errington
Feb 22, 2016 rated it really liked it
Review copy

The first book in this trilogy, The Bullet-Catcher's Daughter (The Fall of the Gas-Lit Empire #1), came out in August of 2014. At the time, I called it "a beautiful tale of mystery and intrigue.wildly imaginative, and entertaining,"

Unseemly Science (The Fall of the Gas-Lit Empire #2) was released in April of 2015. Not quite as much fun as book one, but still a solid read.

Now comes The Custodian of Marvels: (The Fall of the Gas-Lit Empire, #3), a near perfect end to the trilogy. All of
Sachin Dev
Feb 16, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2016-good-reads
Originally reviewed here:

The Custodian of Marvels marks the end of the amazing series that was Rod Duncan's successful foray into fantasy - with the Bullet Catcher's Daughter - bringing things to a satisfactory finish, tying up most threads introduced over the course of the last couple of books.

In the Gas-Lit Empire, Rod has built one of the most fascinating alternate historical settings, a world teetering on the edge of technological innovations, running on steam-punk somew
M. Jones
Feb 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing
The third and final part of the first Elizabeth Barnabus [sic] trilogy (thankfully there is more: The Queen of All Crows) is a departure from the previous two - no Edwin, and a heist plot which culminates in a confrontation with the Custodian of Marvels at the centre of the International Patent Office's power.
It is written with just as much tight plotting as the others, with a gripping finale which ties up all the loose ends.
My quibbles, because I'm a glass half-empty kinda guy: (view spoiler)
Jan 19, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
Not going into details here.

Why would anybody plan and carry out a heist in a location, of which nothing you can steal is of any use to you? You can't sell it. Not even the information. Isn't a heist basically about getting fabulously rich. We know, the Patent Offices only has documents and objects, that don't carry their stamp. Which is exactly, why you can't sell them.

"Next time we meet, it shall be as enemies". Such drama. Needless to say, it's not happening. What is happening, is romance.

Emily Randolph-Epstein
Jun 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
The perfect conclusion to one of my favorite trilogies. Elizabeth Barnabus is easily one of my favorite fictional characters.
Dec 22, 2017 rated it really liked it
3.75 out of 5 stars

In this third and final book of the series, Elizabeth Barnabus gets swept up in a plot to conduct a daring robbery of the most protected location on earth. While the preceding two books were mysteries, The Custodian of Marvels is a heist novel at its heart. I appreciate that this book is trying to do something different and it ramps up to a conclusion that is satisfying, surprising, and left me wanting more. Luckily, Elizabeth returns in early 2018 to kick off a new series in
Linda Robinson
Feb 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Would be great if there were more books in this series. I like Elizabeth Barnabas. She's a regular everyday shero, on the run through no fault of her own, just hanging out female and good-lookng. John Farthing is less interesting, but every book has to have a romantic interest. I liked Yan better. And Fabulo has some interesting traits. We get to visit with Julia in this book, busy studying law in London, unlike the other women in her class who are after a lawyer husband. Tinker is excellent as ...more
Wing Kee
Dec 16, 2018 rated it liked it
Once again, great world building and meh pretty much everything else.

World: I love me some lost world and ancient technology stuff and this has been the case for this book. The turn that this book takes in the world building is exactly what I like and the depth and the design of the world is something I really truly enjoy. There is less mad scientist stuff here and more steampunk and I really liked that. This world is great, I just wish the story and the characters in this world did it justice.
Dec 15, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: scifi-fantasy
This review originally published in Looking For a Good Book. Rated 5.0 of 5

Rod Duncan is a genius and his Fall of the Gas-Lit Empire series will be much read and discussed for years to come.

In this third volume in the series, The Custodian of Marvels, Duncan builds a tremendous crescendo to the adventure of Elizabeth Barnabus and her fight against the agents of the Patent Office and the iron rule of the Gas-Lit Empire. Helping her along the way this time is the circus dwarf Fabulo, whom we haven
Oct 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing
In a way, this novel is the follow-up to The Bullet-Catcher’s Daughter that I expected Unseemly Science to be: back are the circus folks and the magical machine that may transmute minerals. However, there was no way to expect this novel to turn into an Ocean's 11-esque heist novel! Elizabeth Barnabus's life has settled into a pattern of being on the run, hiding from a police force, having her boat ransacked from time to time, and being a maternal figure for Tinker, the boy she had befriended ...more
Sep 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: series, have, audio, fantasy
Cracking finish to the Fall of The Gas-Lit Empire series. Mr Duncan achieves that rare delight - a series that just gets better and better with each book. Steampunk and alternative history done right, an absolute joy.

The crossover points in history are handled beautifully throughout the series but I have to say the alternate history of Waterloo is a masterclass in how it should be done. All pretence of working whilst listening was abandoned at that point in the book. There are so many nuances a
Talitha (Victorian Soul)
Marvelous! Full review to come.
If you haven't read the first book in The Fall of the Gas-Lit Empire series, there may be spoilers in this review for you. My review of The Bullet-Catcher's Daughter is here.

You know the weird sense of satisfaction that comes with putting the final piece in a puzzle? Or when you finally polish off a crossword, without once resorting to frantic Googling? That's the only way to describe the feeling I had when I finished this b
Online Eccentric Librarian
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More reviews (and no fluff) on the blog

The Custodian of Marvels is the third and final book in the Gas-Lit Empire series. In this volume, author Duncan does an excellent job of answering questions about the world and Elizabeth while neatly avoiding overwriting the denouement. The action is fast and furious throughout and this is much more a thriller than an urban fantasy. Admittedly, as much as I loved the other two books, I am not a fan of "Ocean's 11" ty
Judy Lesley
I don't read many steampunk novels, but this series got me hooked because I enjoyed the main character so much. This is the third of the three books and yet the ending leaves the characters in such an unresolved position that I wouldn't be surprised to see this continue. It might take a stretch for it to happen, but this author is definitely talented enough to accomplish it.

The year is 2009, the country is the Kingdom of England and Southern Wales, and the Gas-Lit Empire is run by the Internatio
Apr 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: science-fiction
The Custodian of Marvels, the final book of The Fall of the Gas-Lit Empire, was - as always - amazing! I very much liked how this book resolved most issues that have run through the series since the first book and allowed us to see more of supporting characters like Fabulo (I loved the reveal regarding his relationship with Harry Timpson), Tinker (I adore the parentification that Elizabeth has undergone for him), and John Farthing (especially as the romance between he and Elizabeth was allowed t ...more
Oct 25, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Every time! Every bloody time it happened to me with this bloody series, ladies and gents. First I'm not sure but keep reading, then it gets more and more interesting, and bam! There is this huge, exciting race to the end. Which finishes really quickly. Which is why I don't rate the books very high. The consistency is too choppy, but overall this is solid 4 star material.

Every book is very different. This time Elizabeth realizes that she is tired of running from the Duke and decides to confron
Mar 17, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Sometimes a story just goes this way

I've read some of the other reviews both good and bad. None of them captured for me the reason this story "captured" me. First, The Duke's obsession follows a certain historical accuracy about the abuse of the lower classes in Europe--and what exactly the oppressed's options were during that time. Second, it doesn't gloss over human frailty or try to make everything turn out all right exactly.

Elizabeth is human, which means as much as the author knows how to d
Harini Padmanabhan
Feb 20, 2016 rated it liked it
Elizabeth Barnabas stole my heart in the bullet catchers daughter. I couldn't get enough of her. The second book in the series was not as good as the first and to me personally, the third was the worst.
Don't get me wrong- this is still significantly better than a lot of books out there, but in terms of my comparison with the first book, it does not live up to it.

I expected a lot more and perhaps that's just why I didn't enjoy it so much.
Jun 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fantasy
The third Elizabeth Barnabus book set in the gas-lit Empire, following on from The Bullet Catcher's Daughter and Unseemly Science. Elizabeth is on the run from the authorities as both halves of Britain – independent and suspicious of each other – prepare to sign an extradition treaty that could send Elizabeth and all the Kingdom refugees back home against their will. If that happens the slimy Duke of Northampton will be waiting to snatch her into sexual slavery. Even before the treaty is signed ...more
Katherine Hetzel
Jan 05, 2018 rated it really liked it
Just when you think Elizabeth holds her future in her own hands, it's ripped away in pursuit of the Custodian of Marvels.

Read again in two sittings - there's something about the way Rod writes that simply keeps you turning the pages.

Apparently this might also be the review that allows the author to add 'cat scarer' to his CV; when the Custodian of Marvels was revealed, I yelled aloud and made my moggy leap off the settee where he'd been happily curled up next to me while I was reading.

This one
Steph H
Mar 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: audio-books
This was an excellent finale to this series.

It didn't feel rushed in any way, I'm pretty sure all the loose ends were tied up and the ending was perfect.

I thoroughly enjoyed this series. I wasn't sure at first but once I got into it I thought it was excellent.

The idea is really interesting and I get the feeling there could be a much bigger 'universe' to discover.

Really liked the characters, I thought Elizabeth was bit cold at first and didn't really like her much. However as her character was fi
Jun 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I was worried this was the last in the series, but it looked like at least 3 more are planned. I loved this story too. If the first book was a good mystery, the second social commentary on refugees and an good mystery, the third throws everything out the window and takes you along on a heist. I love heists, books or movies, so I was here for this story.
Good for Duncan! So few authors are willing to distance themselves from the set paradigms of their books that's it refreshing and exciting to re
Jan 20, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I would rate the series as a whole 3,5 stars. It is interesting, but hardly captivating (had I not bought it as boxed set, I doubt I would have goten around to buying the second and third book), the pacing can best be described as leisurely (not necessarily a bad thing, but these are steampunk adventure novels) and the characters can feel thinly drawn, it took me the whole three books to get a clear image of the protagonist.

I won't rush to get the sequel trilogy, but I might return to it in the
Sidsel Pedersen
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Nov 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: library-books
Exactly as much fun as I'd hoped it would be based on the first two. And this one's a heist story! Great twists and some really nice payoffs for things we've been wondering about through the series. Basically, if you liked the first two, as I did, you must read this one.

One complaint: (view spoiler) oh, well, who cares, it's a great book.
Simon Gosden
Feb 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Elizabeth Barnabus's third adventure in the strange alternate history steampunk adventure series brings her face to face with the dreaded International Patent Office. Hidden in their well protected vaults are secrets that could destroy the Gas-Lit Empire but she and her companions face many perils and dangers on the way. A great adventure story ...more
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Rod Duncan worked in scientific research and computing before settling in Leicester to be a writer. His first novel, Backlash, was short-listed for the John Creasey Memorial Award (now the CWA Debut Dagger).

After four crime novels he switched to fantasy. The Bullet Catcher's Daughter was nominated for the Philip K. Dick Award. He is currently writing a series of alternate history books, called ‘Th

Other books in the series

Fall of the Gas-Lit Empire (3 books)
  • The Bullet-Catcher's Daughter (Fall of the Gas-Lit Empire, #1)
  • Unseemly Science (The Fall of the Gas-Lit Empire #2)

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