Narrator: Kate Reading
Series: The Merchant Princes
Published by Tor on May 1st 2005
Genres: Adult, Fantasy, Science Fiction
Length: 11 hours and 53 minutes
Source: Personal Copy
Sexual Content: Non-descriptive sex scene
Miriam Beckstein is happy in her life. She's a successful reporter for a hi-tech magazine in Boston, making good money doing what she loves. When her researcher brings her iron-clad evidence of a money-laundering scheme, Miriam thinks she's found the story of the year. But when she takes it to her editor, she's fired on the spot and gets a death threat from the criminals she has uncovered.
Before the day is over, she's received a locket left by the mother she never knew-the mother who was murdered when she was an infant. Within is a knotwork pattern, which has a hypnotic effect on her. Before she knows it, she's transported herself to a parallel Earth, a world where knights on horseback chase their prey with automatic weapons, and where world-skipping assassins lurk just on the other side of reality - a world where her true family runs things.
The six families of the Clan rule the kingdom of Gruinmarkt from behind the scenes, a mixture of nobility and criminal conspirators whose power to walk between the worlds makes them rich in both. Braids of family loyalty and intermarriage provide a fragile guarantee of peace, but a recently-ended civil war has left the families shaken and suspicious.
Taken in by her mother's people, she becomes the star of the story of the century-as Cinderella without a fairy godmother. As her mother's heir, Miriam is hailed as the prodigal countess Helge Thorold-Hjorth, and feted and feasted. Caught up in schemes and plots centuries in the making, Miriam is surrounded by unlikely allies, forbidden loves, lethal contraband, and, most dangerous of all, her family. Her unexpected return will supercede the claims of other clan members to her mother's fortune and power, and whoever killed her mother will be happy to see her dead, too.
Behind all this lie deeper secrets still, which threaten everyone and everything she has ever known. Patterns of deception and interlocking lies, as intricate as the knotwork between the universes. But Miriam is no one's pawn, and is determined to conquer her new home on her own terms.
Blending the creativity and humor of Roger Zelazny, the adventure of H. Beam Piper and Philip Jose Farmer, and the rigor and scope of a science-fiction writer on the grandest scale, Charles Stross has set a new standard for fantasy epics.
THE FAMILY TRADE isn't Urban Fantasy or Paranormal Romance, and it's hard for me to really classify it other than by using the broader term speculative fiction. But I enjoyed it so much I wanted to write a review about it. THE FAMILY TRADE follows a reporter, Miriam Beckstein, who quickly finds herself caught up in another dimension when she discovers that she has the very rare ability to "world walk." Court intrigue, assassinations, and hidden romance fill THE FAMILY TRADE.
The reason I love Urban Fantasy, Fantasy, and Science Fiction are all the new and unique worlds I get to explore in the pages of these books. Charles Stross weaves so many fun worlds into the Merchant Princes series, that I can't help but love seeing them. I mean how many times have you read a book where the characters are in a medieval castle, and then when the servants take away the evening meal, they wheel in a TV so the nobility can watch reruns of TV shows from Earth?
I also loved the characters the filled THE FAMILY TRADE. Charles Stross did an amazing job of creating the culture that revolves around the six families of world walkers. Each character is formed so uniquely through the influences that our Earth has to the medieval world of the Gruinmarkt. And of course the interaction Miriam has with everyone from the medieval world are just hilarious. Though she's thrown into this new world and has to learn about her ability to world walk, she isn't going to take anything lying down, and she immediately dives into changing things and making waves.
If you're interested in exploring fun new worlds even if they aren't filled with werewolves and vampires I suggest you give THE FAMILY TRADE a read.
Notes on the Audiobook: Kate Reading. I think that's really all that needs to be said. Kate Reading is one of the all-stars of narration. She's narrated books by Brandon Sanderson, Jim Butcher, and Mercedes Lackey just to name a few. If she's narrating a book you know it'll be good.Series Titles:
- The Family Trade
- The Hidden Family
- The Clan Corporate
- The Merchants' War
- The Revolution Business
- The Trade of Queens