Thursday, February 23, 2012

Fornax Rising by Nicole Ross

Life in the early twentieth century isn’t easy for women, especially if that woman is an outspoken, intelligent, headstrong, augmented amputee with prosthetic technology that is the envy of armies. Enter Cassandra Leigh Fornax.

Daughter of the shipping magnate John Fornax, Cassandra has had a harder life than most young people of her social standing. After a tragic childhood accident leaves her an amputee, Cassandra’s uncle and engineer, Philip Fornax, builds her a revolutionary prosthesis which replaces the hand she lost. As Cassandra begins to make her own decisions about her future, she finds that her domineering father intends her to live a radically different life. She emancipates herself loudly and publicly at her eighteenth birthday party, scandalising her parents and putting paid to her father’s scheme. When Philip receives an offer to work in an airship factory in Germany, Cassandra follows him so she can put some distance between herself and her father. As the threat of war looms over Europe, the German army has the talented engineer’s most advanced creation firmly in its sights. Cassandra had hoped to leave her troubles behind when she left Britain, but finds they have just begun.

4 stars

Fornax Rising by Nicole Ross is the story of Cassandra Fornax.  Her father is a shipping tycoon and her Uncle Philip is a brilliant engineer and inventor.  When visiting her uncle one summer she is bitten by a poisonous snake and has to have her hand amputated to save her life.  Feeling responsible her uncle designs her an amazing prosthesis to replace what she has lost.  When she returns to her normal life at home she is shunned by the deformity, many people claiming that God was punishing her for a horrible sin.  This causes her become a bit isolated from her peers and get a private tutor.  Luckily her tutor does not judge her and provides her with a top notch education to go with her already brilliant mind.

The story was well done and as the book was described to me as steampunk I was very excited by the engineering possibilities that Philip presented.  Unfortunately after the original creation of the hand there is really not much of the wonderful technology to be found.  There are mentions of some special engines and such, but nothing really concrete and fun.  Towards the end of the book the steampunk aspect does start to make a comeback in a very exciting and entertaining way however.  The middle of the book really goes into the development of the personality of Cassandra.  Even with a little disappointment with the lack of gadgets the story still moved along fairly well.

Overall I will be checking back fairly regularly to see if Nicole has written any other books and especially to see what is coming in this story.

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