Please help me figure out the name/author of a fantasy book.
August 31, 2011 9:03 AM   Subscribe

I read this book for the first time a few years ago and really enjoyed it, and have been itching to reread it. I read a lot of fantasy and sci-fi but the title isn't coming to me, and my books are in storage so a cursory riffling of assorted tomes isn't possible.

Here's what I (kind of) recall about the story:

- The setting is an alternate 1700-1800s London (?)
- The protagonist escapes a monastery or religious school
- Protag starts running with a gang of kids in new city, pickpockets and petty thieves who live in an abandoned warehouse (?)
- Protag and co. spend a lot of time on rooftops (transportation, escape routes, relaxation)
- There's something about the arrival of huge, mythical birds the townspeople anticipate (a festival?)
- A great source of evil is concentrated in a scummy river near a bridge, or near the entrance to a sewer catacomb or tunnel. I think the protag once tries to drown himself.
- Time- or dimension-shifting plays a huge part in the story, and eventually the protag begins learning how to use it
- There's a character who might call himself "Doctor" something, but he's a salesman of 'hardcore' magic, mostly kept in small, transparent boxes (?). He is not a nice man.

Sound familiar to anyone?
posted by judomadonna to Media & Arts (10 answers total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
Except for your first point, this sounds like Steph Swainston's The Modern World. Her setting is pseudo-industrial revolution though. If so, it's the third in the trilogy starting with The Year of Our War and followed by No Present Like Time.
posted by bonehead at 9:10 AM on August 31, 2011

Your description kind of sounds like a mishmash of Perdido Street Station and The Name of the Wind. Is it possible you're mixing more than one book together?
posted by something something at 9:56 AM on August 31, 2011

Response by poster: @something something

I own The Name of the Wind, and, happily, that Wikipedia description rings a few bells. It's almost there.

And I haven't yet had the pleasure of reading Perdido Street Station.
posted by judomadonna at 10:06 AM on August 31, 2011

Your description reminds me of a book I'm reading right now - The Anubis Gates by Tim Powers. 1800s London, dark magician Doctor Romany/Romanelli, pickpockets, time travel, evil sewer tunnel. But the rest doesn't match.
posted by mskyle at 10:11 AM on August 31, 2011

Response by poster: @mskyle

Are you enjoying The Anubis Gates? It's one of my all-time favorites. Tim Powers is unparalleled. :)
posted by judomadonna at 10:22 AM on August 31, 2011

Best answer: The book you're describing is Felix Gilman's Thunderer. Excellent book.
posted by col_pogo at 10:24 AM on August 31, 2011 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: @col_pogo

That's it! Aaah! Thanks so much.
posted by judomadonna at 10:27 AM on August 31, 2011

Incidentally, that's the second time I've brought up Thunderer on the AskMe. The first was in this thread about good Peake/Mieville-style pulp sf/fantasy. You might enjoy the suggestions over there, too. (And if you like Gilman I think you really should check out Mieville.)
posted by col_pogo at 10:29 AM on August 31, 2011

Response by poster: @ col_pogo

I read Un Lun Dun eariler this year and liked it very much. I think Kraken will be the second Mieville book I read.
posted by judomadonna at 10:31 AM on August 31, 2011

Not to completely derail the thread but I'm only kind of "meh" on it, though there's a lot of stuff in it I like. I may have to check out some of the other stuff in this thread!
posted by mskyle at 12:31 PM on August 31, 2011

« Older Canadian Seeks DirecTV HD DVR   |   Resolving a Tricky SSL Issue. Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.