Monday, October 30, 2017

Release Day Review: The Jackal’s House (Lancaster’s Luck #2) by Anna Butler

the jackals houseTitle ~ The Jackal’s House

Author ~ Anna Butler

Publisher ~ Dreamspinner Press

Published ~ 30th October 2017

Genre ~ M/M Fantasy, Steampunk

Rating

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Synopsis

Sequel to The Gilded Scarab

Lancaster's Luck: Book II

Something is stalking the Aegyptian night and endangering the archaeologists excavating the mysterious temple ruins in Abydos. But is it a vengeful ancient spirit or a very modern conspiracy….

Rafe Lancaster’s relationship with Gallowglass First Heir, Ned Winter, flourishes over the summer of 1900, and when Rafe’s House encourages him to join Ned’s next archaeological expedition, he sees a chance for it to deepen further. Since all the Houses of the Britannic Imperium, Rafe’s included, view assassination as a convenient solution to most problems, he packs his aether pistol—just in case.

Trouble finds them in Abydos. Rafe and Ned begin to wonder if they’re facing opposition to the Temple of Seti being disturbed. What begins as tricks and pranks escalates to attacks and death, while the figure of the Dog—the jackal-headed god, Anubis, ruler of death—casts a long shadow over the desert sands. Destruction follows in his wake as he returns to reclaim his place in Abydos. Can Rafe and Ned stand against both the god and House plots when the life of Ned’s son is on the line?

 

Sally’s Review

It seems ages since we were first introduced to the amazing and dangerous world described in the first volume of Anna Butler's Lancaster's Luck series.  I've been trying to contain my excitement about book two – quite poorly I admit - because she's been producing more of her excellent Taking Shield sci fi dramas. But finally book two – The Jackal's House – is here and OH there's so much packed into that title!

First a little recap on Book One – The Gilded Scarab – because world building is key with this kind of book. What we have is late Victorian England but with the full panoply of steampunk technology. Discovery of new elements and cold fusion has enabled amazing machines to be built to travel by land, sea and air and new and terrifying weapons to be built. Add to this a few tweaks to the socio-political structure of the country – instead of an elected Parliament there is a Convocation of highly competitive  aristocratic Houses which have taken responsibility for different departments of government - and you have a bellicose culture that would make Machiavelli say "Oh steady on chaps!" Naturally England is at war and naturally younger sons are packed off into the forces to cut down on filial conflict. Luckily this suited Rafe Lancaster, our first person narrator, because he always wanted to fly – unluckily, at the beginning of book one he suffered an injury that left his eyes permanently damaged and left him at odds with his family. Due to his own sheer nerve, some luck and some string pulling behind the scenes, he ends book one in possession of a popular coffee shop opposite the Imperial Museum in Bloomsbury, a high born and archaeologically inclined lover, Ned Winter Aegyptologist and Heir to Gallowglass House, and friends in high places, including Rafe's own ultimate boss, the terrifying Stravaigor. Or is he a friend? He could just be using Rafe for his own ends. Rafe doesn't care as long as he has his lovely Ned and opportunities to appreciate him as he deserves.

This book begins not that long after the first one ends, with Rafe's happy world being overturned as he realises that Ned will soon be leaving him to head an archaeological dig out in Aegypt. There is much angst, more of that filial conflict as Rafe butts heads with anyone who tries to impose a bit of House loyalty on him, an interview with the Stravaigor that must make Rafe feel as though he's being put out to stud, machinations, double dealing and shenanigans – and Rafe goes to Aegypt too. There the machinations continue because their dig site seems to be haunted, there's a series of pranks escalating in danger and at least one murder attempt. Rafe has to try to keep Ned safe, negotiate with Ned's ferocious small son, keep control of said son's dog, while aware that the Stravaigor could call in a favour at any moment and helped and hindered by a memorable cast of secondary characters.

I enjoyed the depiction of early 20th century archaeology enormously – Howard Carter even makes a guest appearance  - and the often very bitchy interactions between the French and English digs and the procrastination of the Aegyptian director all too aware that his country is being looted rang very true. Having Rafe as the narrator made it all the more amusing because he knows very little about the business and so the reader finds out what's going on as he does, thus avoiding info dumps. I thought this worked very well. I also loved the politics of it. First century Rome has got nothing on this bunch, offend the wrong person at a garden party and your family tree could be grubbed up, root to twig. No spoilers, of course, but this book ends with a very interesting situation that promises absolute dynamite in book three.

One caveat – this book has some tender scenes between Rafe and Ned and a few where they grab the opportunity to go at it like stoats but it's more of an adventure with oodles of plot and action AND the continuation of a loving relationship than a category romance.

It's glorious and now I'm going to have to wait for book three. Fingers crossed it's not too long.

Purchase Links

DreamspinnerPress

AMAZON GLOBAL LINK

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gilded scarabThe Gilded Scarab (Lancaster’s Luck #1)

Amazon –> http://bit.ly/1Dy4NwO

When Captain Rafe Lancaster is invalided out of the Britannic Imperium’s Aero Corps after crashing his aerofighter during the Second Boer War, his eyesight is damaged permanently, and his career as a fighter pilot is over. Returning to Londinium in late November 1899, he’s lost the skies he loved, has no place in a society ruled by an elite oligarchy of powerful Houses, and is hard up, homeless, and in desperate need of a new direction in life.
Everything changes when he buys a coffeehouse near the Britannic Imperium Museum in Bloomsbury, the haunt of Aegyptologists. For the first time in years, Rafe is free to be himself. In a city powered by luminiferous aether and phlogiston, and where powerful men use House assassins to target their rivals, Rafe must navigate dangerous politics, deal with a jealous and possessive ex-lover, learn to make the best coffee in Londinium, and fend off murder and kidnap attempts before he can find happiness with the man he loves.

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1 comment:

  1. I too have eagerly awaited the second book in this series! I love the Taking Shield books too, at least in part due to the Egyptian elements. Sci fi and steampunk are my favorite reads any day of the week!

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