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by Greg Keyes
ISBN 0345433785 / 9780345433787 / 0-345-43378-5
Publisher Del Rey
List price $7.99
› Find signed collectible books: 'Newton's Cannon'
Newton's Cannon is an alternate history set primarily in the court of Louis XIV. This might sound familiar to readers of Vonda McIntyre's Nebula-winning The Moon and the Sun. Keyes, like McIntyre, blends alchemy, history, and fantasy in his novel.
Keyes's characters are expertly drawn: Louis XIV, the aging King of France who seeks a return to international preeminence, young Ben Franklin of Boston, a printer's apprentice who yearns to master alchemy, and Adrienne de Montchevreuil, a lovely, impoverished noblewoman who secretly pursues mathematics, but attracts Louis's lustful attention. The many secondary characters are also believable personalities, and the plot is original and suspenseful. Keyes's writing is precise and witty. "It was, Adrienne reflected, impossible not to be impressed by the Grand Canal. More like a cruciform inland sea with banks of polished marble, it summed up many things about Versailles. It was monumental in proportion, insanely expensive, impossible to overlook, and entirely frivolous."
Though the ending of Newton's Cannon leaves much unresolved--setting up book two of The Age of Unreason, A Calculus of Angels--it's fine entertainment all by itself. --Nona Vero [via]