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The Grand Ellipse by Paula Volsky

The Grand Ellipse (2000)

by Paula Volsky

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Adventuress seeks to save her country from invasion. To do this, she needs the secret of Sentient Fire--and to get that, she needs to win the Grand Ellipse. This story is basically Around the World in 80 Days in an alternate WWII-era Europe. ( )
  wealhtheowwylfing | Feb 29, 2016 |
The Grand Ellipse is the tale of a pseudo-19th century international balloon race, which had a strong flavor of Jules Verne, blending strangely with the fantasy elements. It was good… ish. Didn't hate it, but didn’t love it; didn’t love the characters, though they were more interesting than in many VLFN's; thought the attempt at light Regency-esque froth was a little forced. Not her best. ( )
  Stewartry | Oct 22, 2009 |
A contest is announced to travel a steampunk world, the contestants' choice of transport and route, to win a prize and world acclaim. As events unfold, there are political underpinnings, with a prussian-esque expansion, and governments surreptitiously angling for advantage.

Loved the world building, loved the variations on our earth, the way Volsky implied exoticness and cultural contrast via menus and landscapes. Sadly, the heroine was infuriating and was unable to pass an entire novel in her company. Considering she was set up in the initial chapters as a protofeminist and hopeful career woman, she seemed coy, passive, reactive - no planning skills - and inattentive to the scenes around her, although travelling, we were told, was her dream.

A lot of the text was about her indecision between two suitors. ( )
  nessreader | Aug 27, 2008 |
Embarassingly, though I know I have read The White Tribunal, Illusion, The Gates of Twilight and The Wolf of Winter, it has been too many years ago for me to recall any of them in any great detail. However, I must put this one down as worse than both the Wolf of Winter and Illusion, but better than The Gates of Twilight and (especially) The White Tribunal, which I didn't like at all.

Ms. Volsky has a superb imagination when it comes to creating an entertaining alternate universe, which she then proceeds to fill up with some rather two dimensional "stock" characters, beginning with and especially including the heroine of this novel, Luzelle Devaire. And often what seems to be the most important action is taking place elsewhere. As in, we've got an Around the World in Eighty Days analog going on, which is where 90% of the action takes place, while the Prussia-analog (Grewzland) is poised to overrun the world, including the France/Britain-analog of Vonahr. As in, best I can recall, Vonahr was France in Illusion and Britain in India in The Gates of Twilight. There's also a foolish king in what is (possibly) some sort of Dutch analog who has a pet magician who invents a sentient fire, another bit of ingenious plot display from Volsky. There's also a rather silly love triangle that isn't worth mentioning. The book does drag at various points, and the heroine seemingly goes from cynical woman of the world to coy ingenue by the end of the book, but overall a very solid work. Recommended. ( )
  worldsedge | Aug 26, 2006 |
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"Sie ist unvergleichlich, sie ist exquisit, sie ist göttlich", verkündete der König der Nieder-Hetz.
"She is incomparable, she is exquisite, she is divine," proclaimed the King of the Low Hetz.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0553580124, Mass Market Paperback)

Paula Volsky, author of The White Tribunal, returns with a spectacular saga of adventure and intrigue, romance and rebellion — beginning with a wondrous discovery that could forever alter the fate of the free world....

In the modern, civilized republic of Vonahr, the need for magic seems a thing of the past. But soon the Vonahrish will find that magic is their only hope — for an imperialistic race of fanatics, intent on conquering the world, now masses on Vonahr’s borders.

Vonahr’s slim chance for salvation lies in a nearby neutral kingdom, where a brilliant savant has conjured up the ultimate weapon: Sentient Fire, a miraculous flame that responds to the command of its maker.

Low Hetz’s mad, flamboyant king refuses to relinquish the secret — so the desperate government of Vonahr sends the exquisitely beautiful adventurer Luzelle Devaire to turn his head and change his mind. But to gain an audience, Luzelle must win the Grand Ellipse, a test of endurance, ingenuity, and valor....

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:16:17 -0400)

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