Red Wheels Turning (英語) ペーパーバック – 2011/7/23
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British secret agent Brian Finch-Malloy (described by one reviewer as "a 1920s James Bond") was introduced in Beneath Gray Skies, set in an alternate history where the American Civil War never happened. Red Wheels Turning takes place in the same historical timeline, and features some of the same characters. With a backdrop of Tsarist Russia prior to the events described in Beneath Gray Skies, Red Wheels Turning once more mixes real historical characters with fictional characters and events in an entertaining adventure featuring two of the most extraordinary weapons ever developed - the massive "Netopyr" and the rail cruiser "Zaamurets." Finch-Malloy battles against the maniacal gangster-turned-Bolshevik revolutionary Kolinski in a contest of wits to determine who will have control of these incredible machines. Described by readers as "a ripping yarn" and a "page-turner," Red Wheels Turning continues the tradition of high adventure, espionage and treachery, mixed with steampunk-like technology in a genre best described as "steampulp." Ashton's writing in Beneath Gray Skies has been characterized as "well-written with a brilliant story," "a delightful romp through what it terms "a past that never happened."" and "a remarkable alternate history novel." From Christopher Belton, author of Isolation and Crime sans FrontiEres: "Red Wheels Turning provides fans of Beneath Gray Skies with another opportunity to meet up with an old favorite; Brian Finch-Malloy. An impeccably crafted tale exuding volumes of World War I's black-and-white atmosphere in vibrant technicolor. Hugh Ashton's careful attention to detail pulls the reader into the story from page one and then steps on the accelerator. A riveting plot wrapped up in a firm coating of history, with good guys to root for and bad guys to despise. A thoroughly enjoyable read from start to finish." --このテキストは、ペーパーバック版に関連付けられています。
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Above all, the novel is a very exciting adventure story set in a fascinating world that is like our own in many ways, and yet fundamentally different in ways the reader is often left to figure out on his own -- some are fairly obvious, such as the existence of the Confederate States of America, while others are subtle, such as the political climate of Russia. The protagonist is Lt Brian Finch-Malloy, a troublemaker plucked from the trenches to work for the hush-hush chappies who inhabit various anonymous offices in Whitehall. He's a admirable cut of Englishman, full of honour and patriotism, and willing to do whatever is necessary to defeat the Boche and root out enemies of the Crown. However, he is just one of a large cast of very strongly delineated characters, and that includes the villains (I should say especially the villains), who are thorough rotters.
Ashton does an excellent job of creating the excitement of the times while avoid the pitfalls attendant in the writing style of the times. Ashton's Finch-Malloy and Sapper's Bulldog Drummond are approximately contemporaneous, and they are cut from rather similar cloth -- adventurous English gentleman, military, somewhat disdainful of authority and title, always putting what's right over what is convenient, and possessor of a personal code of honour that puts others to shame. However, although Sapper's novels are still exciting today, they are difficult reads, infused with the gimcrackery lingo of the times that now seems a parody of itself. Ashton, on the other hand, evokes the period superbly with a very clean sriting style, and while some of the vocabulary is occasionally archaic because of the time period, it is always gentle on the ear.
It is helpful to the reader, of course, to be somewhat familiar with the Great War, Tsarist Russia and the early Communist Party, but so engaging and fascinating is the story that you can enjoy it without any specialized historical knowledge. The action and the characterization will pull you along like a powerful riptide. There is one other (so far) book in the series, "Beneath Gray Skies," but you don't need to read it first to enjoy this book, And enjoy this book you will.
As well as the human characters, the novel is dominated by the bizarre weapons that drive the plot - the Netopyr and the Zaamurets. It's extraordinary to think that these machines actually existed and Ashton really shines a light into this obscure aspect of world history. My only quibble is that the Zaamurets seemed to get more 'screen time' than the Netopyr, but that's a minor thing. "Steam Punk" and "Diesel Punk" are pigeonholes that people are probably sick of hearing about - the blurb on the back cover coins the term "Steam Pulp" to describe itself - but whatever you call it, this is a damn good read.
Hugh Ashton's Red Wheels Turning is exactly that, providing us a spy story set in the first World War. More than that, it provides us with an alternate world, one in which America's Civil War never happened and there actually is a Confederate States of America. However, that merely serves as the backdrop. It was, apparently, a factor in Ashton's Beneath Gray Skies, which Red Wheels Turning is a prequel to.
Ashton provides a great protagonist with Brian Finch-Malloy, a British agent tasked with preventing two of Tsarist Russia's weapons of war, the Netopyr and the Zaamurets, from falling into the hands of sinister Bolshevik agent Kolinski.
The real treat of the book for me was watching how all the spying and back-stabbing occurred in a classic setting. While in these days, some of the tactics employed by Kolinski probably wouldn't work as well, it is perfectly believable that they'd work flawlessly in a Russia on the verge of revolution.
Ashton is most known for his work on Sherlock Holmes, but he proves with Red Wheels turning that he's capable of building his own imaginative worlds and populating them with fascinating characters.
involved in the book.
I found the book to be interesting and a joy to read. It is an adventure story from the past and one that can hold your interests. Also there is also the possibility that the hero will show up again in future books about this era in history. A very good read.
I really enjoyed this novel, so much so, that I bought a second one by he same author and am reading it now. The author presents a very enjoyable alternate history in which the Confederate States of America successfully secedes, but that is nothing but a dropped reference in this novel. In Red Wheels Turning, the protagonist, Bloody Brian, has to investigate a superweapon (tank-like vehicle) being made in secret by the imperial Russians, in the midst of WWI.
I do not want to drop anymore of the story and ruin your enjoyment of it, suffice to say that it is a cracking good read, and well worth your time, and few dollars. So, go ahead a get it already.