Source: Tor/Netgalley – I received this book in exchange for an honest review.
Edition: eARC, 352 Pages
Genre: Sci-fi, Alternate History
Purchase: Amazon/ Barnes & Noble / Book Depository*
*I receive a small monetary kickback from Amazon purchases
Lord Scott Oken, a prince of Albion, and Professor-Prince Mikel Mabruke live in a world where the sun never set on the Egyptian Empire. In the year 1877 of Our Lord Julius Caesar, Pharaoh Djoser-George governs a sprawling realm that spans Europe, Africa, and much of Asia. When the European terrorist Otto von Bismarck touches off an international conspiracy, Scott and Mik are charged with exposing the plot against the Empire.
Their adventure takes them from the sands of Memphis to a lush New World, home of the Incan Tawantinsuyu, a rival empire across the glittering Atlantic Ocean. Encompassing Quetzal airships, operas, blood sacrifice and high diplomacy, Three Princes is a richly imagined, cinematic vision of a modern Egyptian Empire.
Three Princes is a quick venture into the question of ‘what if ancient Egypt continued to thrive and grow?’ and Ramona Wheeler paints a very beautiful and decadent picture of that world. If I had to choose three words to describe this book it would be detailed, deliberate, and meandering.
I personally adore ancient Egypt, with it’s incredibly rich history and amazing features of architecture. So I had no doubt in my mind that I would enjoy this one, and I truly did…though with a few issues along the way. The world building is extensive and imaginative, taking up much of the story. I had no trouble picturing the world Wheeler had built and I truly enjoyed most of the description, but there were moments when it felt like sensory overload. I wish the detail had been toned down a notch or two, so I could enjoy the actual plot that seemed to be lost among all the flowery descriptions. The plot itself it’s fairly interesting but it felt thin once it was all laid out and I wish there had been more danger and encounters over the course of the story. However I did really enjoy learning about the interesting inventions and the way everyone views other ‘nations’. The fact that they created a sort of air balloon system to fly and the rather ideal explanation of ‘all beliefs are true’ was really different and it offered a really picturesque scene.
Our main characters Oken and Mik are interesting enough. Oken is a rather happy and precocious memory-man in the service of the Queen of Egypt. He serves as a spy and a valued information keeper. Mik is a professor at the university in Memphis and has been pulled out of retirement to serve his Queen again. Both of these men are extremely likable, but once they get together it’s hard to tell them a part…unless there is a woman in the room, in which case Oken goes out of his way to worship the ground she walks on. Both men are extremely polite and everyone likes them, which was sort of a problem because the only people who didn’t like them were the ‘bad guys’. The other problem I had was the fact that almost every highlighted character in this was a person of privilege which leads to a sort of one-sided view of the world. It was luxury all the time and I would have loved to see more ‘normal’ people in ‘normal’ environments.
With that being said I still think that Three Princes is a incredibly interesting idea and the world was fascinating, if on the slow side.