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Phoenix Rising

(Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences #1)

3.70  ·  Rating details ·  7,465 ratings  ·  951 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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Steve Scott I would really have to say no to either.
Except for allusions and a couple of mild anatomical references.
I agree with Inna that some of the nastiness i…more
I would really have to say no to either.
Except for allusions and a couple of mild anatomical references.
I agree with Inna that some of the nastiness is inappropriate for youth.(less)
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Start your review of Phoenix Rising (Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences, #1)
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 its g
Oct 01, 2011 rated it it was ok

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
Sarah Mac
Don't look now, but Sarah just tried to read another steampunk novel.

Seriously, though. Why do I keep attempting this genre? Is it the visual allure? Possibly. But the fact remains: despite whatever drives me to pick up these books, I don't like steampunk. There's something about it that rubs me the wrong way. Perhaps it's the gizmos. Perhaps it's the muddled and/or taken-on-faith world-building. In any case, steampunk inevitably leaves me feeling as if I've been left out of an exclusive club &
May 27, 2011 rated it really liked it
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
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 candy, but fun. We start with the requisite kick-butt "hottie"
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
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
✘✘ Sarah ✘✘ (former Nefarious Breeder of Murderous Crustaceans)
What a fun read! A great duo, an entertaining plot, funny dialogues and a great steampunk setting without too many gadgets. I can't wait to read the rest of the series!

· Book 2: The Janus Affair ★★★★
· Book 3: Dawn's Early Light ★★★★
· Book 4: The Diamond Conspiracy ★★★
· Book 5: The Ghost Rebellion ★★★★
· Book 6: Operation: Endgame ★★★★
Mar 10, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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
Aug 07, 2011 rated it liked it
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
Dec 05, 2012 added it
Shelves: fantasy, steampunk
Normally I wait to finish to review a novel but for this novel I want to write my feelings while reading. For a long time I was planning to read Steam-Punk novels, and last year I’ve bought two steam-punk themed novels. The first one was Soulless, the first book of Parasol Protectorate. But I could not find what I’ve expected from a steam-punk, because it is more like a paranormal-urban fantasy and it has few steam-punk elements. Then I started reading Phoenix Rising, the first book of Ministry ...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)
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
May 05, 2011 rated it really liked it
(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
Kara 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
May 17, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to AH by: Catherine
Great fun! Automatons, bullet-proof corsets, explosions, and more!

Eliza Braun loves her weapons and her dynamite. Wellington Books prefers to hide away in his basement offices at the Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences. When these two characters are forced to work together, sparks fly – literally.

Phoenix rising is the first book in Philippa Ballantine’s and Tee Morris’ Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences series. This is steampunk done right, down to every last detail. Set in Victorian London, Phoenix
Jun 20, 2012 rated it did not like it
Shelves: cbr4
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
There was chemistry between the two lead characters - a strong kickass female agent and a bookish male with hints of repressed skills. The banter was humorous and laced with sexual tension. But the steampunk gadgets seemed gimmicky. There were some loose ends which presumably lead you into the next book in the series. I'm not sure I'll all that interested to see where they lead. The first book was enough for me. ...more
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.
Apr 08, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone!
This was really really fun!

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 world i
Mar 04, 2013 rated it did not like it
It is really, really rare for me not to finish reading a book. Like, I think I've done it once in the past few years? And yet, I just can't force myself to finish this one. I am so disappointed. I had heard good things about this steampunk book.

So, basically I just can't take how badly written this book is. Not just badly edited, as I've read other reviewers say. Yes, it IS badly edited, and if there was someone with the title editor who worked on this book, they deserve to be fired. But beyond
One of the books I have since downgraded since I read it, because when I recall it, I cant only think of the characters flaws that made me angry.

This was my first steam punk book. I was not purposely avoiding the genre, kind of like urban fantasy (until Dresden), I just had not come across any that looked particularly appealing. Quite honestly, I may have passed over this but it was on sale on Kindle, and I thought “why not?”

I’m glad I did. It was certainly entertaining, and a decent read. I h
Lindsay Stares
Apr 23, 2011 rated it it was ok
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

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
Apr 27, 2017 rated it really liked it

This is the first book in the Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences series. Right now there are five books released in this series. I really enjoyed this start to this steampunk series. There is a lot of action, a secret society, automatons and many crazy devices. Additionally I really enjoyed the characters; they have complex pasts and are intriguing and fun to read about.

I listened to this on audiobook and the audiobook was very well done. Langton was a joy to listen to and did a great job on char
colleen the convivial curmudgeon

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
Cupcakes & Machetes
Jul 29, 2018 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: steampunk fans
A proper steampunk caper.

Agent Eliza D. Braun is pushing her boss to the limits. She’s an extraordinarily good agent for Queen and country but her methods tend to involve a good deal of dynamite and a scattering of dead bodies. Despite several warnings, her missions continue to end in explosions and newspaper features that bring to forefront the secret agency of the crown that she works for, The Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences. Luckily, few people even know of it’s existence, hence secret agenc
Dec 01, 2019 rated it really liked it
This book was a whole lot of fun to read!

A Victorian Era steampunk adventure story with a strong and saucy female lead paired with a shy bookish hero who has his hidden depths working together to take down a secret society?
Yes please

Both Books and Eliza make such a fun pair, and I really enjoyed their banter as much as the shenanigans they got up to.
Also, when I was reading both of their conversations/rundowns with Doctor Sound I just kept seeing this in my head...


Don't ask my why. Cant wait
Mar 12, 2011 rated it really liked it
*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
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A good one 1 6 Apr 05, 2015 09:05PM  
Mystery at the Minstry: Or The Secrets of Agent Wellington Books 3 76 Sep 19, 2013 06:42PM  
Urban Fantasy Afi...: August's BOM Phoenix Rising 36 38 Sep 10, 2013 01:52PM  

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See also works published as Philippa Ballantine. ...more

Other books in the series

Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences (6 books)
  • The Janus Affair (Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences, #2)
  • Dawn's Early Light (Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences, #3)
  • The Diamond Conspiracy (Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences, #4)
  • The Ghost Rebellion (Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences, #5)
  • Operation: Endgame (Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences, #6)

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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.”
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