Chronicles of a Gentlewoman is an action-packed thriller series following Aldora Fiske's adventures in an alternate history Victorian steampunk world. This collection of three novelletes takes her all the way from London, to the jungles of Mexico, to the Ottoman Empire.
This collection includes:
"SKY PIRATES OVER LONDON"
London has been besieged by strange powerful airships targeting the city's shipping. The poor starve and the rich must ration their luxuries, while the blockaders have made no demands. Parliament and the Home Office have done nothing to rectify the situation, and though it's hardly proper, sometimes a gentlewoman must act while the men debate.
"THE TOWER OF BABBAGE"
A motion-picture crew has gone missing in the mysterious jungles of Southern Mexico while filming ancient Mayan ruins. Desperate to learn the fate of an old friend, gentlewoman Aldora Fiske sponsors an expedition into the heart of the rain forest. Little does she realize that the filmmakers were not the only ones interested in the clockwork secrets that Charles Babbage left behind.
"FINE YOUNG TURKS"
Her loveless wedding of convenience approaching, gentlewoman Aldora Fiske is among the influential Europeans to accept a handsome nobleman's invitation to show off the Ottoman Empire and its secularist reforms. After she alone escapes the devious plot to kidnap the foreign guests, she's confronted with an Empire where women are given all the rights of men, and a man who treats her like an equal.
Who Is Aldora Fiske?
Aldora Fiske is nothing if not proper, but the further she gets from London's social season the more daring she gets. Ever the gentlewoman, she takes pride in her ability to set things right.
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Aldora Fiske is an awesome character
This book contains 3 novellas from the Galvanic Century series: Sky Pirates Over London, The Tower of Babbage, and Fine Young Turks.
You can see, I have previously listened to and reviewed Sky Pirates Over London. It was nice to revisit it here. I enjoyed it once again. Aldora Fiske is a great character, a woman who knows what she wants in life but is still trying to figure out how to hold on to her independence without pissing off too many people. After all, this is Victorian steampunk England and manners and station must be considered in all that Aldora does.
Eccentric scientist Charles Babbage is at the heart of The Tower of Babbage. He and a film crew were exploring some ancient Mayan ruins in Mexico when they went missing. Aldora, never being one to leave a friend lost and unaccounted for if she can help it, heads into the heart of Mexico to find him. This was a fun jaunt into a culture and place that I find fascinating. I really enjoyed this story and found Aldora to be at her best because she was out of her native culture and place.
Fine Young Turks was also good. Aldora has a marriage of convenience drawing nigh (which was hinted at in Sky Pirates Over London) but before she takes up the ball and chain, she travels to the Ottoman Empire. Since this is alternate history, Coorlim was able to do something very interesting with the Ottoman Empire: he gave men and women equal rights. Of course this gets Aldora thinking about all the rights she lacks back home in high London society. A mass kidnapping is at the heart of a mystery and Aldora settles in to figure it out.
All in all, Aldora is awesome. I like her internal monologue, that has some cutting humor, and the practical way she takes to weapons of any sort. However, she is often the only female in the story, surrounded by men of all sorts. So I would have liked the genders a little more balanced. Still, with that mild criticism, this is an excellent way to dive into The Galvanic Century.
Narration: Dawn Hyde was an excellent choice for the voice of Aldora. I really enjoyed her high London accent and the emotions the narrator imbued the character with. She had clear, distinct voices for both men and women. She also pulled off foreign accents as needed.