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Summary

The complete set of The Fall of the Gas-Lit Empire trilogy, featuring The Bullet Catcher's Daughter, Unseemly Science and The Custodian of Marvels.

Elizabeth Barnabus lives a double life - as herself and as her brother, the private detective. She is trying to solve the mystery of a disappearing aristocrat and a hoard of arcane machines. In her way stand the rogues, freaks and self-proclaimed alchemists of a travelling circus. But when she comes up against an agent of the all-powerful Patent Office, her life and the course of history will begin to change. And not necessarily for the better....

Witnessing the brutal hanging of someone very close to her, Elizabeth resolves to throw the Bullet Catcher's Handbook into the fire and forget her past. If only it were that easy! There is a new charitable organisation in town, run by some highly respectable women. But something doesn't feel right to Elizabeth. Perhaps it is time for her fictional brother to come out of retirement for one last case? Her unstoppable curiosity leads her to a dark world of body snatching, unseemly experimentation, politics and scandal. Never was it harder for a woman in a man's world....

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 onetime 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 in Elizabeth's way are the agents of the Patent Office, a Duke's private army and the mysterious Custodian of Marvels.

©2018 Rod Duncan (P)2018 Audible, Ltd

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  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Steampunk Adventuress rights wrongs

An alternate world/steam punk trilogy where the luddite revolt suceeded in putting measures in place to limit technology.

The story follows a determined female protagonist/adventurist as she seeks to earn a living as an investigator while avoiding her creditors and sleazy aristocrats.
The mysteries at the heart of the stores are more pulp than Sherlockian, but well written for all that. The world presented is interesting , the characters likeable in the main, and the story moves along in a nice style.

The books do use a few well-used tropes, but in the main these do not overwhelm the enjoyment.
While taking some predictable swipes at the old-fashioned male dominated society, they're not insightful (nor are they meant to be) and are used to support the story.
The balance lends itself to a enjoyable story that works well, and while not looking to ask any deep questions this is fine as this is clearly intended to be an entertaining adventure yarn rather than challenging or groundbreaking scifi...and in the main it succeeds in this.
Despite the tropes, it is never stodgy and holds the interest to the end.

Gemma Whelans performance is good. Her voice suits the range of characters and story, and never becomes dull. Your attention is kept throughout and characters are (in the main) clearly distinguishable.

Overall, this is a decent trilogy, and particularly good value if you're getting all 3 books for a single credit.

61 of 64 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Andrew
  • Chinnor, United Kingdom
  • 02-04-18

Enjoyable steam punk world - a bit repetitive

I liked the premise of these stories. The steam punk world was well illustrated; the somewhat sinister and all powerful Patent Office always lurking darkly in the background, the circus and travelling world, life on the water, the contrasting royalists and the republicans.

The back story and world building that Rod Duncan puts into these stories really is excellent - it all feels very real and believable. Familiar yet also alien.

However - I did find it tiresome that despite the lack of CCTV and modern communications - our heroine, Elizabeth was ALWAYS being recognised and spotted by either the law (or what passes for the law) or unsavoury types. Constantly and repeatedly - it makes up too much of the the theme of the stories for me. Additionally I guess these books are what are usually described as "young adult" as they also seem a little prissy (or maybe that's just Elizabeth). That said, the Republic (which is where Elizabeth lives) is a somewhat prissy place in terms of culture and the demeanour of it's residents.

Gemma Whelan's narration was top notch and adds greatly to some enjoyable listening.

17 of 18 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

A good adventure yarn, told well

I enjoyed this a lot and there's a lot to like about it. Good characters with accomplished dialogue, some nice ideas and a generally consistent approach throughout.
I guess it stands as steampunk - one of few with a reason for the old tech still being used into the 21st century; a reason that is core to the story rather than just a contrivance to explain the background.
There are a couple of minor niggles but not enough to spoil enjoyment.
Generally very well read indeed (the London habit of using a 'w' sound instead of the 'l' at the end of words began to intrude a little towards the end but it's a very minor thing and possibly personal to me).
Worth a listen.

7 of 7 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Original story, singular performance

I’m a bit so-so on the subject of steampunk.

But these series of novels are more than “just steampunk” they’re a wonder. Rod Duncan has created a wonderful female protagonist, utterly original, credible and with her own voice.

Elizabeth Barnabus is force of nature. You can’t help but root for her. Good as the story is and as great a justice that Rod Duncan does for his lead character, what adds an extra X factor here is Gemma Whelans performance.

She NAILS it. Her voice for Elizabeth is utterly believable and her voices for the other character just right for a convincing and consistent tone. I can’t rate the combination of her and Duncan’s story high enough.

I started the audio book a little bit sceptical and even disinterested, after one hour I was hooked and then galloping through the balance of the audiobook. I’ll be recommending this to all my friends.

You can’t go far wrong with this for a great audiobook experience!!!

14 of 15 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

For Audible get the Glossary first

Really hard to get into the mind set of this book but after a couple of attempts I preserved. Once I got into it I loved it but may have missed it as I want sure if it was Victorian or ............ At the end of Book 1 there was a glossary. FOR HEAVENS SAKE PUT THIS FIRST!

36 of 40 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
  • KSL
  • Lancre
  • 29-08-18

Good things come in threes...

An interesting steampunk adventure series, with a strong female protagonist and a colourful cast of supporting characters. The third book proved to be a satisfying, if predictable, end to the Gas-Lit Empire trilogy, tying up all the loose ends from Elizabeth Barnabus' previous adventures.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Great series of books and superbly narrated

Where does The Fall of the Gas-Lit Empire rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

Well up there in the top five, along with The Hitchhiker's Guide and Sherlock Holmes (as read by Stephen Fry)

Who was your favorite character and why?

The Bullet Catchers Handbook without doubt.

Which character – as performed by Gemma Whelan – was your favourite?

All of them, she does a great job of giving each one a 'personality'.

Did you have an emotional reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

No, a few chuckles here and there certainly, and it did keep me engrossed.

8 of 9 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Fantastic Series

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 filled out more I grew to understand her and was really rooting for her by the end.

Great Steampunk influences throughout and I would really love to read more in this vein.

Would highly recommend.

7 of 8 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars

Ultimately unsatisfactory.

Admittedly my first venture into this genre.

There seemed an awful lot of duplication of text. I felt that a strong editing hand was lacking.

Overall it is an adventure story, but with characters who never caught my imagination. The ending was weak, almost as if the author were as glad as I to finally get to the end.

Narration by Gemma Whelan was good and clear. Might be improved with some change of pace.


As for recommendation, if this type of book is your thing then go for it. I do not think I am the right one to comment.

6 of 7 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

compelling

Although on first appearance an historical novel this is in fact an interesting study on the effect of technology on a society or rather the suppression of technological progress.

6 of 7 people found this review helpful