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Saturdays in Books

Reviews of speculative fiction, YA, middle grade, and graphic novels, along with stray thoughts, links, and pictures.

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The SFWA European Hall of Fame: Sixteen Contemporary Masterpieces of Science Fiction from the Continent
Kathryn Morrow, James K. Morrow

Review: Magnificent Devices (4 book bundle)

Magnificent Devices 4-Book Bundle - Shelley Adina

I complained in the first one that it didn't feel like a book. The end wasn't even a cliffhanger. It was more like a scene before a commercial break. To some extent, this is how the rest of the series works. But at some point I started seeing the serial nature of the narrative as a feature instead of a bug.


The individual books represent character arcs for Claire more than story arcs for the series. Plots are rarely simply resolved, and more likely to generate a new series of options than really end. (There is one notable exception at the end of book 3. I don't want to get too spoilery, but, you treat the Lady like an object and fail to heed her words enough times, and I'm kind of out of sympathy for you. She's always on to something, even when she isn't exactly right.)


There's a love triangle that isn't really a love triangle. There are really interesting characters and interpersonal relationships. There are fun devices (though, for the love of all that is decent and holy DO NOT THINK ABOUT the science), adventures, airships, pirates, dinner parties, and intrigues. Best of all, there are a ton of wonderful female supporting characters. Stubborn, smart, independent women are bursting out of the pages (after the first book). And they're frequently found supporting each other rather than mean girling. 


I loved reading this. Claire is smart, but impulsive and head strong. She is well aware of the societal expectations of her as a woman of a certain level and the difficulty in balancing them against her desire to pursue engineering (or education at all!). She fights assumptions head on, demands credit for her contributions, and will not stand by and wait for a rescue. 


The most stressful part of any of this otherwise wonderful escapist story was the part where one of the characters threatened to not include her name on a patent and repeatedly used that as leverage to attempt to control her. That struck a cord far more than any of the life threatening situations she faced. 


The weakest part is, sadly, the last act of the last book. So much happens off screen that it is a bit frustrating a finish. There are more books in the series, but they jump ahead a few years. I expect I will pick them up eventually. I can't not, this series is just too much fun.