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Rivers of London by Ben Aaronovitch

Rivers of London (original 2011; edition 2012)

by Ben Aaronovitch

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
2,0631873,222 (3.91)431
Title:Rivers of London
Authors:Ben Aaronovitch
Info:Gollancz (2012), Paperback
Collections:Your library, Currently borrowed by others

Work details

Rivers of London by Ben Aaronovitch (2011)

  1. 240
    Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman (riverwillow)
    riverwillow: Both 'Neverwhere' and 'Rivers of London' (US title 'Midnight Riot') evoke a magical fairy tale London which sometimes feels more authentic then any real life guide to the city.
  2. 203
    Storm Front by Jim Butcher (majkia)
    majkia: both involve paranormal mystery and smart-ass dialog.
  3. 62
    The Big Over Easy by Jasper Fforde (souloftherose)
    souloftherose: It's difficult to explain this recommendation without giving spoilers to one or other of the books. There were certain plot elements to Rivers of London/Midnight Riots which made me think of The Big Over Easy. And both books have a well-developed sense of humour.… (more)
  4. 51
    A Madness of Angels: Or, the Resurrection of Matthew Swift by Kate Griffin (TheDivineOomba)
    TheDivineOomba: Same Location, similar themes. Both Capture the essence of London.
  5. 30
    Rule 34 by Charles Stross (fhprice)
    fhprice: Besides the urban setting and police procedural genre similarities, both have protagonists with a snarky "we're just cogs making witty observations about the machine" voices. Wicked humor.
  6. 30
    The Rook by Daniel O'Malley (Rubbah)
  7. 20
    Archer's Goon by Diana Wynne Jones (LongDogMom)
    LongDogMom: The way that the river spirits are characterized is similar to the characters in Archer's Goon. Same feel/style.
  8. 20
    Rosemary and Rue by Seanan McGuire (Mav.Weirdo)
  9. 20
    King Rat by China Miéville (mikewilliams64)
    mikewilliams64: London urban fantasy with malevolent magic in the wings. Sharp contemporary horror from the beginning of Mieville's career
  10. 42
    Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency by Douglas Adams (souloftherose)
    souloftherose: Both books have a certain dark British humour to them.
  11. 10
    Stray Souls by Kate Griffin (LongDogMom)
    LongDogMom: Both are a bit quirky, set in London, and deal with the spirits of things, magic and murder.
  12. 10
    The New York Magician by Jacob Zimmerman (LongDogMom)
    LongDogMom: Both books have a similar way of portraying Gods and Powers and both are urban fantasy/mysteries
  13. 00
    Nightfall by Stephen Leather (agneson9)
    agneson9: features supernatural/paranormal side of London
  14. 00
    Bryant & May and the Memory of Blood by Christopher Fowler (hairball)
    hairball: Two books with Punch & Judy-themed murders--must be something in the water in London.
  15. 11
    Never the Bride by Paul Magrs (jonathankws)
  16. 00
    The Severed Streets by Paul Cornell (LongDogMom)
    LongDogMom: Both series feature British police who deal with supernatural crime and both are more creative and well written than the average urban fantasy
  17. 00
    No Hero by Jonathan Wood (Rouge2507)
    Rouge2507: Similar: British policeman fights against the supernatural
  18. 01
    Retribution Falls by Chris Wooding (Alliebadger)
  19. 67
    Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke (jonathankws)
    jonathankws: Both books feature an apparent normal world where magic takes place behind the scenes.
  20. 02
    Embers by Laura Bickle (thewalkinggirl)
    thewalkinggirl: Both series have smart heroes who are more likely to use their brains than their powers to solve problem and both series make good use of mythology.

(see all 20 recommendations)


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English (182)  German (3)  French (2)  Norwegian (1)  Spanish (1)  All languages (189)
Showing 1-5 of 182 (next | show all)
A murder mystery, set in present-day London, with ghosts and magic. It is totally light-hearted and sometimes laugh-out-loud funny. The characters are refreshingly diverse. The magic is well thought-out and the world-building is consistent. This is total fluff, but it's really fun, page-turning fluff, and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

I listened to the audiobook. The narrator sometimes seems to stumble, or hurry through some of the jokes, but all in all he was good. ( )
  Gwendydd | Jul 24, 2015 |
3.5 stars.

The only reason I don't give it any higher is because the plot development wasn't intriguing enough for me. I thought it was quite routine what with all the sequential happenings and apparently no new stuff making it anymore interesting. But the climax was much more stirring because there was a twist I didn't expect. In overall, I'd say it's okay enough for me to give the second book a shot. ( )
  novewong | Jul 8, 2015 |
So disappointed in this book, sad I didn't enjoy it. If it had been different characters, and different side plots, I think it would have been great. It was funny and intriguing, but nowhere near enough. Shame. ( )
  Xleptodactylous | Apr 7, 2015 |
Meet Peter Grant. He had been a probationary constable for 2 years in London and is about to get his first actual assignment - which will determine his future in the force. Being half-black had caused a lot of issues (the timeline is not specified but based on the technology, it seems to be contemporary) and will continue to cause them. But he is hopeful that his dreams will become true and he is called on the site of a grisly murder, he really hopes that this will help his chances. Especially when he seems to find a witness - who turns out to be a ghost.

And just like that, his life changes. Within days he not only learns that there is magic and ghosts but becomes an apprentice to the police inspector that deals with these things - and starts learning magic and the ways of the world. But because he is still a constable after all, London crime keeps intervening and he ends up working on two cases - the series of murders that started with the one at the start of the novel and some disturbances that end up being related to some supernatural phenomena. Because it turns that the rivers of London have avatars (or something similar to it)- half humans that pass for humans and just now are in the middle of a turf war.

In UK the novel was published with the name [The Rivers of London] because this is what makes this world interesting -- but as it is not the main crime in the book, the US publisher apparently decided that people will complain so the book was renamed. Which is... laughable - both titles work out but I like the UK one more - it sets the stage for the coming series and is indeed what makes these books different.

As for the crime at the heart of that particular volume - it all started when a dog named Toby bit a man on the nose. Slowly the relation between this and the next few crimes start emerging and everyone realizes that it is all connected to a well-known English puppet show (which I would have picked up on if I had not watched an episode of Midsomer Murders a few weeks ago that was dealing with the same show). Add to this a trip through time (imaginary only but very nicely done), Molly (who you really do not want to piss off), a bullet and close friends falling victims and things start looking pretty dicey for our young constable and a wizard in training.

The novel is very British, very London-ish (if there is no such word, there should be one). London is palpable and vibrant; it comes alive as one of the main characters of the novel - and when this happens in a novel with a lot of subplots and interesting characters, it shows a lot about the author's abilities. And the novel is full of that very special British humor that does not sound funny when taken at face value but that makes you laugh out loud when used in the proper places - some of it pretty crass but then we are all adults after all.

My only problem with it is that some of the characters remain underdeveloped but then there was not enough space for all of them and introducing them was needed - they can serve as a base for the future novels and allow for the action to happen. Learning about the world step by step, as Peter was learning, was a bit annoying but considering the selected style unavoidable.

It is a great start of a series and I am planning to read the next installments. ( )
  AnnieMod | Mar 23, 2015 |
Being a probationary constable with the Metropolitan Police, Peter Grant is called to the scene of a grisly murder in Covent Garden market one night; while his colleague goes off to get some coffees, Peter makes the acquaintance of one Nicholas Wallpenny, the only eyewitness to the crime, but there's a catch: he's a ghost. Keen to avoid the tediousness of a job at the Case Progression Unit, Peter accepts a request from Chief Inspector Thomas Nightingale to work in his one-man unit; soon Peter learns that his superior is the last wizard in Britain, and that Peter is now officially his apprentice. Now it's up to Peter and Inspector Nightingale to help solve the spate of murders across London, while Peter is being distracted by the personifications of the rivers of London: Mother and Father Thames and their offspring.

This was a refreshingly different take on the urban fantasy genre, with Peter being a knowledgeable and engaging guide to a London that's familiar and strange at the same time. Aaronovitch writes well, with an easy-going and very British style, although I felt the sub-plot with the rivalries between the different London rivers was occasionally distracting from the murders committed by magic at the heart of the story and threatened to take over the story line; I guess that is to be expected seeing that the book is named after them. The characters are interesting and well developed, though a few niggling questions remain unanswered, but I'm already looking forward to Peter's next adventure. ( )
  passion4reading | Mar 11, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 182 (next | show all)
Sometimes There Are Men Who Get It Right This author is proof that men can actually grok the full humanity of le deuxième sexe, and write it into their fictional worlds. without having the female characters come across as either absent, ciphers, stereotypes, or sex-fantasies.

(Rivers of London/Midnight Riot, Moon Over Soho, and Whispers Under Ground) are smart, sharp, fast, witty books with a real sense of place (the place being London, if you hadn’t guessed). They’re told from the point of view of PC Peter Grant, who gets himself mixed up in some deeply Weird Shit in the opening chapters of Rivers of London—and the icing on the cake is that Peter is surrounded by a variety of women who are more competent than he is in any number of ways. And he’s okay with that.

Don’t get me wrong. Peter is still a guy, and occasionally a right arse. But the women in these books are real and human—even when they’re not. Human, that is.
added by feeling.is.first | editTor.com, Liz Bourke (Sep 11, 2012)

» Add other authors (5 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Ben Aaronovitchprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Dürr, KarlheinzÜbersetzersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Holdbrook-Smith, KobnaNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Quadrelli, SilviaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Walter, StephenCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Yet ah! why should they know their fate?

Since sorrow never comes too late,

And happiness too swiftly flies.

Thought would destroy their paradise.

No more; where ignorance is bliss,

'Tis folly to be wise.

Ode on a Distant Prospect of Eton College by Thomas Gray
In memory of Colin Ravey, because some people are too large to be contained by just the one universe.
First words
It started at one thirty on a cold Tuesday morning in January when Martin Turner, street performer and, in his own words, apprentice gigolo, tripped over a body in front of the West Portico of St Paul's at Covent Garden.
He sliced it in half to show us the interior. It looked like a diseased cauliflower.
”And this ,” said Dr. Walid, “is your brain on magic.”
I returned to the coach house with a packet of marigold gloves and my Uncle Tito’s Numatic vacuum cleaner. Let me tell you – a thousand watts of suckage makes a big difference
The chip that handled RF conversion was superficially intact, but had suffered microscopic pitting across its entire surface. The patterns reminded me of Mr. Coopertown’s brain. This was my phone on magic, I thought.
(Tyburn discounts Peter’s authority over the Folly) - “I am a sworn constable,” I said. “And that makes me an officer of the law. And I am an apprentice, which makes me a keeper of the sacred flame, but most of all I am a free man of London and that makes me a Prince of the City.”
Mr. Punch was running for his afterlife, but I was gaining.
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Wikipedia in English (1)

Book description
Haiku summary
The name's Peter Grant.
I'm a police constable
And trainee wizard.

Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 034552425X, Mass Market Paperback)

Probationary Constable Peter Grant dreams of being a detective in London’s Metropolitan Police. Too bad his superior plans to assign him to the Case Progression Unit, where the biggest threat he’ll face is a paper cut. But Peter’s prospects change in the aftermath of a puzzling murder, when he gains exclusive information from an eyewitness who happens to be a ghost. Peter’s ability to speak with the lingering dead brings him to the attention of Detective Chief Inspector Thomas Nightingale, who investigates crimes involving magic and other manifestations of the uncanny. Now, as a wave of brutal and bizarre murders engulfs the city, Peter is plunged into a world where gods and goddesses mingle with mortals and a long-dead evil is making a comeback on a rising tide of magic.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:19:02 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

"As a wave of brutal and bizarre murders engulfs the city, Peter is plunged into a world where gods and goddesses mingle with mortals and a long-dead evil is making a comeback on a rising tide of magic"-- P. [4] of cover.

(summary from another edition)

» see all 7 descriptions

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