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The Outlaw and the Upstart King

(The Map of Unknown Things #2)

3.91  ·  Rating details ·  161 ratings  ·  31 reviews
Elizabeth Barnabus returns, to uncover the secrets and mysteries of the Gas-Lit Empire, in the startling sequel to The Queen of All Crows.

"As it is inked, so shall your oaths and bindings be."

Tattoos are the only law on the Island of the Free, and there can never be a king. Every clan agrees on that. But a returning exile has smuggled something across the water that could
Paperback, 377 pages
Published January 8th 2019 by Angry Robot
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Average rating 3.91  · 
Rating details
 ·  161 ratings  ·  31 reviews

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Feb 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is by far the best book in either Elizabeth Barnabas series, just absolutely blows the others out of the water.

Without spoiling anything the novel starts, not with Elizabeth but instead with a bitter and broken man named Elias as the protagonist, a man who has returned to the land of his birth in reluctant pursuit of a mysterious goal.

From here the author goes on to build a world based not around the technology that dominated the series prior 4 books but instead around a group of clans and
Online Eccentric Librarian
Nov 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: urban-fantasy, arc
More reviews at the Online Eccentric Librarian

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Once again, Rod Duncan proves he is one of the best contemporary sci fi/urban fantasy authors out there with a follow up just as good yet distinctly different than his previous book. Rather than regurgitating the same tale of action and adventure, we have a very moody, slow burn, psychological piece that manages to maintain high tension and energy in stark contrast to the swashbuckling adventure of The Queen of all Cr
Rex Roberts
Jan 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Up to Expectations

In all honesty, while I liked the last book, there was some 'oomph' missing ( I know, great descriptive term). It was interesting, but I got lost in certain implausabilities. But Rod has kept me enthralled in his writings so I had to stick with him. 'Upstart' did not disappoint. This was a creative venture with a story, characters and location that had me going from the start. At times part 'Game of Thrones', at others 'Outlander', and I do hate to draw such comparisons because
Jess (Iorelyn)
Just when I thought I couldn't get more enthralled with Elizabeth's story, Mr Duncan goes and does it again.

It's rare that I enjoy a series that has the same main character, but does multiple trilogies with them in it. The Fall of the Gas-Lit Empire was phenomenal, and I worried over The Map of Unknown Things. Of course Queen of All Crows sucked me out of that thought and into the mode of loving this new saga for our heroine.

Then, I got hooked. While Queen of All Crows made it feel like a small
Jun 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I love this series and this book was an excellent addition. Rod Duncan's world building is intricate and compelling. As much as I enjoyed visiting the Gas Lit Empire of the first three books, I am enjoying the land of New Foundland just as much. Though Elizabeth Barnabas plays a supporting role in this novel, the journey with Elias here was just as enjoyable for me and I look forward to the next where we should be picking up with Elizabeth again. I find myself racing through these books to find ...more
Sara Codair
Dec 11, 2018 rated it really liked it
With the Outlaw and the Upstart King, Rod Duncan veered away from steampunk style plot and setting. The feudal, political coup plot that seemed like it belonged in a fantasy novel, only it had no magic. It was a great story in a very well-developed land with a fascinating political system. It just wasn’t what I expected when I started reading.

The story more or less picked up where the previous book, The Queen of All Crows, left off, but Outlaw and the Upstart King hardly felt like part of the se
Nov 20, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: galley
3.75 out of 5 stars

After leaving the Gas-Lit Empire behind and surviving a run-in with a floating city of pirates, Elizabeth Barnabus has landed on the inhospitable island of Newfoundland in less than ideal circumstances. While seeking a seemingly impossible escape to the Free States of America she runs across Elias, a thumbless outlaw who hungers for revenge against those who wronged him.

I appreciate that each book in this series does something markedly different while remaining true to the spi
Realms & Robots
Feb 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing
The Outlaw & the Upstart King reunites readers with Elizabeth Barnaby and the world of the Gas-Lit Empire. Gone are the trappings of England and a sea-bound nation of women, replaced by the wilds of Newfoundland and a society more reminiscent of King Arthur than modern day. Duncan is a grade-A storyteller, taking us deeper into this fascinating world with strong characters, a darker villain, and twists at every turn. It’s a fitting sequel to The Queen of All Crows, and will leave you eager to di ...more
Elias is an exile and an outlaw. He has been cut off from his clan and forced to live as an oathless exile. He wants revenge however and will sign up with anyone to achieve this. Elizabeth has been forced to hide who she is as she tries to find a way off Newfoundland. Elizabeth eventually meets up with Elias, the only man she knows who has ever made it off the island.

The plot was intense with a great blend of action, world building and suspense. I liked how the author didn’t reveal the true his
Jul 12, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Duncan delivers fabulous, steampunky, alternative history as always. And, amazingly, a sort of happy ending. Opening with Elizabeth, Julia, and Tinker are stranded at the edge of the known world, plots thicken, and a clue is delivered that another Barnabas with a gun lives in the wilderness. Once again Elizabeth upends society, lots of people meet bitter ends, and yet there's a glimmer of hope that things will indeed improve for those dwelling on the edges of the Empire's map. Can the next stop ...more
Feb 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed being taken through this new world Rod. I loved the slow, walking pace, which gave me time to take it all in. My imagination filled in any gaps, akin to making a set of clothes my own. I delayed starting to read it and then tried to limit myself to a chapter a night - not always easy. This is a meal I didn’t want to rush!
Ashley Armstrong
Mar 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Alternative-reality world-building of a compelling kind. Elizabeth Barnabus as a character continues to grow in this fifth installment in Rod Duncan's Gas-Lit Empire series. Very different from its predecessors, with a rawness of setting and tone that keeps the series interesting and this reader entertained. ...more
Mar 09, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Great book. Elizabeth Barnabus is within the story but not the main character this time. I didn’t mind this so much as it was such a good story with Elias, Patrons and Newfoundland...however Elizabeth, Tinker and Julia are in the periphery and this I think will set us on the next and final journey. See you there!
Mar 31, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2020
Rod Duncan’s books are awesome! For me, this one was quite bleak and so a bit less enjoyable than the others. Maybe I would have a different perspective if I had read it at a time when the Corona virus wasn’t darkening our world.
Jan 15, 2020 rated it really liked it
4.5 / 5 ✪

I was somewhat divided on my intro to Elizabeth Barnabus after coming late to the party in The Queen of All Crows, Book 1 of the Map of Unknown Things but #4 of her combined journey.

I joined the adventures of Elizabeth Barnabus late—reading the Queen of All Crows last year without making my way through the Fall of the Gas-Lit Empire trilogy first. I’m guessing that this was an important factor in my divided opinion of the book; it felt like there
Sep 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: scifi-fantasy
This review originally published in Looking For a Good Book. Rated 4.5 of 5

I'll begin by saying that I think Rod Duncan is one of the freshest voices currently writing in science fantasy. If I see Duncan's name on a book, I'm probably going to buy it (and there aren't many authors about whom I would say that).

The Outlaw and the Upstart King is the second volume in Duncan's The Map of Unknown Things series, and is the fifth book in the Elizabeth Barnabus series. But this is also the first book in
Melissa Polk
Jan 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing
GAH! I have so many questions! First and foremost is HOW AM I GOING TO SURVIVE UNTIL THE NEXT BOOK?!

Rod Duncan writes the most amazingly complex characters and I am here for it. I spent the better part of the book unsure of how I felt about Elias and in the end, I rather like him. He's a flawed human who goes through a lot of growth and change but still has a ways to go come the end of the book. The world that is described is so clear in my mind despite being unfamiliar with the actual place in
Oct 25, 2018 added it
Nov 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jan 09, 2019 rated it really liked it
3.5 stars

I still prefer Elizabeth's first-person narration from the first trilogy to the third-person limited employed here (and I am normally not a huge fan of first-person narration) but I still love Elizabeth to bits. While it's not the strongest book in the series, it is definitely still a fun read.

Looking forward to seeing more Julia next book, and hopefully a return to the cross-dressing and more overt steampunk of previous novels - this one at felt much more like a traditional fantasy tha
Nov 16, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy
This is the second book of the second Elizabeth Barnabus Trilogy (the first trilogy being the Gas-Lit Empire), but you could be forgiven for thinking it isn't about her to begin with because Elizabeth doesn't appear until well into the story. It's partly narrated by the outlaw, Elias No-Thumbs, a man in search of a certain kind of revenge, or maybe justice, and it's set in a dangerously feudal version of Newfoundland where people are bound by tattooed oaths. Warlords, known as Patron Protectors, ...more
Mar 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is the kind of steampunk I show up for every time someone is smart enough to publish it. Creative, new, and character driven. This series doesn't fall over itself to be inclusive of descriptions of gears and bargain bin 3-CPOs to add meat to the setting. Can I just say, I love this world setting so much. Conceptually we started in a very traditional Victorian-esque feel within the Gas-lit Empire but as the books have developed the true variety of locations and ways of life have just been de ...more
Apr 12, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Audio. A different approach in that the story is initially told from the POV of Elias, not Elizabeth - her version comes later. It is nicely done and catches your interest well as Elias is a complex and interesting character.

As ever with Mr Duncan, the story moves along at a rollicking pace, with some wonderful -albeit none to pleasant - characters coming into the mix. It is difficult to say much without spoilers, suffice it to say the story touches on some interesting themes which are also rele
Apr 06, 2019 rated it liked it
This was a tough one to rate. On one hand, in seems a worthy sequel to book #1 in the series, but on the other hand, this book came across as brutal, and almost unforgivingly depressing. There were so many instances of cruelty, beatings, and torture that I was tempted to perform a DNF (Did Not Finish). I did stick it out to the end, but honestly I think the world building dialog left the advancement of the plot lines hanging out to dry.
Aydan Scott
Mar 14, 2019 rated it liked it
Overall, the plot was alright - no particularly huge twists or turns, but entertaining nonetheless. It didn’t feel like Elizabeth had too much to contribute to the story, and I hope the next book in this trilogy gives her the main role she deserved in this one.
Jon Chaisson
May 08, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: dnf
DNF. I was really hoping for another exciting story for Elizabeth Barnabus, but she's relegated to Special Guest Star status here, and I just could not maintain interest with its dire gloom and brutality. I might try it again later as I truly enjoy this universe, but for now it kind of lost me. ...more
Rachel Chiapparine
I love the author as a person(he is very kind to me on Twitter) however after picking up this book/putting down this book so many times over the past few months I personally couldn't get into the story at all. ...more
Mar 09, 2019 rated it did not like it
This is the 2nd book in the “Map of Unknown Things” trilogy and the 5th book overall focusing on Elizabeth Barnabus. The original trilogy, “The Fall of the Gas-Lit Empire”, including the first book “The Bullet-catcher’s Daughter”, has been one of my favorite book series that I have discovered in a very long time. The characters were well developed and dynamic. The world, a world in which technology is stuck in the 1800s, where people fly in dirigibles and women aren’t allowed to do pretty much a ...more
Nov 15, 2018 rated it really liked it
The Outlaw and the Upstart King was a good story that kept me engaged and wanting to know what was going to happen. The story is told from two point of views and starts with the outlaw, Elias’s, point of view. When the story starts Elias just seems like a guy who has been wronged and is looking for revenge, but as the story progresses he really turns into someone unlikeable. He allowed himself to be disrespected so much it was almost unbelievable. I understand it was all in pursuit of his goal, ...more
Star Bookworm
Dec 14, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: steampunk
An entire review can be found at In Pursuit of My Own Library.

The Outlaw and the Upstart King made me glad that I gave Duncan another shot.

Duncan refreshes the series with an entirely new character. Heck, we don't even see Elizabeth until Part Two. Once Elizabeth introduces herself to Elias, we finish the novel switching between perspectives.

The new leading gent Elias No-Thumbs has a name you just have to get the story behind. The small blurb showing him as a leading character on Netgalley is t
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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

The Map of Unknown Things (3 books)
  • The Queen of All Crows (The Map of Unknown Things, #1)
  • The Fugitive and the Vanishing Man (The Map of Unknown Things, #3)

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