Dec 25, 2012: I’m really glad that I spotted Three of Swords under the new listings, because now I’m hooked. I think you will be too: it conveys a story of magic in the Victorian era in England, and the story is artfully told through the eyes of some very interesting people.
The two main characters, who alternate viewpoints in every other chapter, are Tom MacKenna, a thief, and Lucien Baptiste, a magician who specializes in charming wealthy young ladies. We hear from them in first person, and the way the authors introduce us, inserting us neatly into their lives and the various predicaments they get into, seemed skillfully natural. I got a strong sense of who these people were, and am starting to get a good sense of the third main character, a small girl named Helene who appeared in the last few chapters of the first volume (which is as far as I’ve read at the moment). The writing itself is a joy to read, very polished and playful.
I thought the authors also did a good job of introducing the world of Victorian London, and I was intrigued that the characters they chose weren’t well-to-do or royalty, which is what I’ve seen so often in Victorian-set novels. The plot really drew me in, as well. I found it fast paced but not so quick that I missed out on the details that make things real. It began by introducing Tom and Lucien separately, very different people moving in very different circles, whose lives intersect once, and then again and again as the things they’re involved with begin to merge.
Although for the most part I’m usually only interested in the stories, the website design for this story actually caught my eye. It’s done up to look like an old fashioned advertisement, which I liked, and contained clearly marked links to everything of interest. As far as the appearance of this series, however, the thing I liked the best were the illustrations. There’s at least one in every chapter, almost like some older novels that regularly had that sort of thing, and I really enjoyed getting a better idea of what the characters looked like, as well as seeing what part of the chapter was chosen to be illustrated.
I should probably mention that according to the site that there are apparently thirteen volumes of this story planned (named for the major arcana of the tarot deck), of which four are currently available. The site also says that the authors are currently on hiatus but will return in the spring with the fifth volume. I’d recommend this story to those interested in Victorian England, magic, or high action/adventure tales, and I will definitely be reading more and waiting for the next volumes as they come out.
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