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The Family Trade (2004)

by Charles Stross

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Merchant Princes (1)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
1,658608,138 (3.45)55
A bold fantasy in the tradition of Roger Zelazny's Chronicles of Amber, The Merchant Princes is a sweeping new series from the hottest new writer in science fiction! Miriam Beckstein is happy in her life. She's a successful reporter for a hi-tech magazine in Boston, making good money doing what she loves. When her researcher brings her iron-clad evidence of a money-laundering scheme, Miriam thinks she's found the story of the year. But when she takes it to her editor, she's fired on the spot and gets a death threat from the criminals she has uncovered. Before the day is over, she's received a locket left by the mother she never knew-the mother who was murdered when she was an infant. Within is a knotwork pattern, which has a hypnotic effect on her. Before she knows it, she's transported herself to a parallel Earth, a world where knights on horseback chase their prey with automatic weapons, and where world-skipping assassins lurk just on the other side of reality - a world where her true family runs things. The six families of the Clan rule the kingdom of Gruinmarkt from behind the scenes, a mixture of nobility and criminal conspirators whose power to walk between the worlds makes them rich in both. Braids of family loyalty and intermarriage provide a fragile guarantee of peace, but a recently-ended civil war has left the families shaken and suspicious. Taken in by her mother's people, she becomes the star of the story of the century-as Cinderella without a fairy godmother. As her mother's heir, Miriam is hailed as the prodigal countess Helge Thorold-Hjorth, and feted and feasted. Caught up in schemes and plots centuries in the making, Miriam is surrounded by unlikely allies, forbidden loves, lethal contraband, and, most dangerous of all, her family. Her unexpected return will supercede the claims of other clan members to her mother's fortune and power, and whoever killed her mother will be happy to see her dead, too. Behind all this lie deeper secrets still, which threaten everyone and everything she has ever known. Patterns of deception and interlocking lies, as intricate as the knotwork between the universes. But Miriam is no one's pawn, and is determined to conquer her new home on her own terms. Blending the creativity and humor of Roger Zelazny, the adventure of H. Beam Piper and Philip Jose Farmer, and the rigor and scope of a science-fiction writer on the grandest scale, Charles Stross has set a new standard for fantasy epics.… (more)
  1. 00
    Thirteen Orphans by Jane Lindskold (amberwitch)
    amberwitch: Family complications and world travel
  2. 00
    The Wizard Hunters by Martha Wells (amberwitch)
    amberwitch: Fantastic series about war spanning several parallel worlds, with great worldbuilding and believable characters.
  3. 00
    Memory of Fire by Holly Lisle (amberwitch)
  4. 00
    Beyond the Pale by Mark Anthony (amberwitch)
    amberwitch: Modern day protagonists travel to medieval parallel world
  5. 00
    The Soprano Sorceress by L. E. Modesitt, Jr. (infiniteletters)
  6. 00
    The Walls of the Universe by Paul Melko (lordbored)
  7. 01
    Minerva Wakes by Holly Lisle (amberwitch)
    amberwitch: Modern day protagonist travels to parallel world
  8. 01
    Cowboy Angels by Paul McAuley (AlanPoulter)
    AlanPoulter: Both novels explore alternate USA's but the Merchant Princes series is much better.
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» See also 55 mentions

English (58)  French (2)  All languages (60)
Showing 1-5 of 58 (next | show all)
I'm tired of Charles Stross's girls. Here's another one having an attack of the vapors before she can get on with whatever she needs to do. Blech. Save me from men writing about women who are tough in spite of being women. ( )
1 vote KittyCunningham | Apr 26, 2021 |
Slightly confused with names, but really promising!
More economics in fantasy-land! ( )
  Loryndalar | Mar 19, 2020 |
Supposedly brilliant journalist gets fired after failing to be brilliant enough to realize her company is part of the cover-up she's about to expose. Gets locket, travels to alternate dimension and brilliantly goes back and forth to investigate; fails to be brilliant enough to not get caught at it. Continues to go back and forth, brilliantly banging her second cousin but isn't brilliant enough to not get caught at that, either. At grand balls, she brilliantly snarks at her new family, but isn't brilliant enough to not get schooled at that, too. She brilliantly plots about economics, then brilliantly goes into hiding. The end.

Summary: Miriam isn't nearly as brilliant as she thinks she is. ( )
  jjLitke | Sep 21, 2018 |
Dear Mr. Stross: Since political and economic analysis is clearly your main interest, perhaps you should shift into the non-fiction market. If you wish to continue writing fiction, please bear in mind that readers are expecting a story, preferably one in which something happens. Page after page of exposition does not make an interesting novel.
Adult fiction (of a sort). ( )
  JanetNoRules | Sep 17, 2018 |
The Family Trade introduces the Merchant Princess worlds (all three of them) and takes us along with Miriam in discovering the mechanics (mostly economical mechanics) of those worlds. Solid world building, this is probably hard economic science fiction. Not my main area of interest but apart from some passages on trading that became too in-detail for me, I enjoyed the book. ( )
  _rixx_ | Aug 30, 2018 |
Showing 1-5 of 58 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (2 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Charles Strossprimary authorall editionscalculated
Youll, PaulCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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For Steve and Jenny Glover
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The sky was the color of a dead laptop display, silver-grey and full of rain.
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She looked into his eyes. They were wide and appealing: He was a transparently gallant, well-meaning young man -- Young? He's only a couple of years younger than I am -- with a great ass, and she instinctively distrusted that.

"Cinderella 2.0", p.108
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Wikipedia in English (2)

A bold fantasy in the tradition of Roger Zelazny's Chronicles of Amber, The Merchant Princes is a sweeping new series from the hottest new writer in science fiction! Miriam Beckstein is happy in her life. She's a successful reporter for a hi-tech magazine in Boston, making good money doing what she loves. When her researcher brings her iron-clad evidence of a money-laundering scheme, Miriam thinks she's found the story of the year. But when she takes it to her editor, she's fired on the spot and gets a death threat from the criminals she has uncovered. Before the day is over, she's received a locket left by the mother she never knew-the mother who was murdered when she was an infant. Within is a knotwork pattern, which has a hypnotic effect on her. Before she knows it, she's transported herself to a parallel Earth, a world where knights on horseback chase their prey with automatic weapons, and where world-skipping assassins lurk just on the other side of reality - a world where her true family runs things. The six families of the Clan rule the kingdom of Gruinmarkt from behind the scenes, a mixture of nobility and criminal conspirators whose power to walk between the worlds makes them rich in both. Braids of family loyalty and intermarriage provide a fragile guarantee of peace, but a recently-ended civil war has left the families shaken and suspicious. Taken in by her mother's people, she becomes the star of the story of the century-as Cinderella without a fairy godmother. As her mother's heir, Miriam is hailed as the prodigal countess Helge Thorold-Hjorth, and feted and feasted. Caught up in schemes and plots centuries in the making, Miriam is surrounded by unlikely allies, forbidden loves, lethal contraband, and, most dangerous of all, her family. Her unexpected return will supercede the claims of other clan members to her mother's fortune and power, and whoever killed her mother will be happy to see her dead, too. Behind all this lie deeper secrets still, which threaten everyone and everything she has ever known. Patterns of deception and interlocking lies, as intricate as the knotwork between the universes. But Miriam is no one's pawn, and is determined to conquer her new home on her own terms. Blending the creativity and humor of Roger Zelazny, the adventure of H. Beam Piper and Philip Jose Farmer, and the rigor and scope of a science-fiction writer on the grandest scale, Charles Stross has set a new standard for fantasy epics.

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