Title: Triumff, Her Majesty’s Hero
Author: Dan Abnett
Publisher: Angry Robot
Publishing Date: Oct 1 2009
Paperback: 352 pages
Stand alone or series: Stand alone
Summary: Sir Rupert Triumff. Adventurer. Fighter. Drinker.
Pratchett goes swashbuckling in the hotly anticipated original fiction debut of the multi-million selling Warhammer star.
Triumff is a ribald historical fantasy set in a warped clockwork-powered version of our present day … a new Elizabethan age, not of Elizabeth II but in the style of the original Virgin Queen. Throughout its rollicking pages, Sir Rupert Triumff drinks, dines and duels his way into a new Brass Age of Exploration and Adventure.
Why did I read the book: I saw the cover and knew I wanted the book and when I got an ARC from the publisher, I was mucho pleased.
The year is 2010. Queen Elizabeth XXX (Vivat Regina!) is in the throne of England which along with Spain forms the Unity. In this alternate version of the world, Elizabeth I married the heir to the Spanish throne and their descendents, all of them Elizabeths have reigned ever since and the Renaissance saw the rebirth of Magick. More than the Elizabeths, Magick is what holds the Unity together but also what eventually prevented the scientific and industrial revolutions from happening. Thus, England stopped in time and language, fashion, technology are stuck in the Golden Age of Elizabethan England.
But something is afoot in the Kingdom of Elizabeth XXX (Vivat Regina!) . Not only her majesty’s life is being threatened by conspirators, but the entire Unity and Magick are being challenged. Who could help?
Cue to Sir Rupert Triumff, one of her majesty’s favourites, discoverer of the lands of Australia and an altogether dandy fellow. Whilst trying to keep his very own mysterious Ploy, his personal enemies at bay and his girlfriend satisfied, he is caught in this web of political intrigue and is enlisted by The Powers That Be to help thwarting the Unthinkable Plot. Can England be saved? Can Triumff…..triumph?
I am SO conflicted about this book. On one hand, Triumff is a quaint read, a cracking adventurous non-stop romp intercalated with quite a lot of funny moments. I was entertained for most part, I liked the main character, Triumff and I thought the overall plot was rather interesting and deftly dealt with in the end. I thought the premise which upheld that Magick prevented England from progress was intriguing, especially when it was disclosed that the newly Australia was much like the Australia we know today, because they did not rely on Magick.
On the other hand, I had several issues that prevented me from enjoying it completely. I wasn’t a fan of the writing or the narrative choice. I thought the prose, in Old English style was not very accessible and I kept having to re-read paragraphs to be able to understand them. Even though the very use of said style is somewhat amusing:
Water rattled off slopes of broken slates, streamed like horse-piss from split gutters, cascaded from the points of eaves, boiled like oxtail soup in leaf-choked drains, coursed in foamy breakers across flagged walks, and thumped down drainpipes in biblical quantities. For the same measure of time that it had taken the Good Lord God to manufacture Everything In Creation, the entire city was comprehensively rinsed. There was water, as the Poet had it (the Poet, admittedly, was wont to have it mixed with brandy), everywhere, and every drop of it was obeying Newton’s First Law of Apples.
In the rents of Beehive Lane, near Boddy’s Bridge, un-potted chimneys guzzled in the rain and doused more than a score of ailing grates. The steep cobbled rise of Garlick Hill became a new tributary to the Thames, and the run-off that washed down it from the foundations of the spice importers’ hilltop barns had loose cloves floating in it and tasted like consomme. At Leadenhalle, the rapping of the rain upon the metal roof drove several market traders temporarily psychotic, and deprived many more of their usual cheery dispositions, and so the cheap was suspended until the inclement weather subsided (“if sodden London don’t subside first” remarked more than one tired and emotional stall-holder). Many worried that, if the fantastically grim weather persisted, the Great Masque that coming Saturday might itself have to be abandoned. And that didn’t bear thinking about.
As for the narrative choice: the book is narrated by one Wllm Beaver who is at the same time third person narrator (although not an omniscient one, as the story has been relayed to him by the main character) and first person narrator when he happened to be present in the events he narrated. The first time the narrative jumped from third to first person, I admit to being startled and I remain not entirely convinced that it works that well. Although I will also concede that this in fact, can be seen as ingenious – please refer to the part where I mention I was very conflicted about the book.
But I think that in the end, probably the main issue for me was that Triumff is a strictly plot-driven book with the characters existing at the service of the plot. I knew very little about Triumff, the character, and what moved him and there is little alteration to what I could perceive him to be by the end of the novel. Plot-Driven novels are literary equivalents to Macdonald’s Meals for me, I am willing to enjoy them from time to time but generally speaking, it is just not for me.
So, yeah. Conflicted.
Notable quotes/ Parts: Definitely my favourite thing about Triumff were the funny parts. This totally cracked me up : Triumff facing off with a member of the secret service called…Eastwoodho…
Eastwhooho’s words crackled softly like burning leaves.
“This is a Fulke and Seddon all-steel ten-shot pinfire harmonica pistol,” he said, “the most powerful handgun in the Unity. From here, it could take your balls clean off.”
“Is there any way I could get out of this without bleeding profusely?”
“Shhhhh!” rasped Eastwoodho in annoyance. “I haven’t finished. Now, do you feel opportune, punk?”
I then imagined Clint Eastwood dressed in Elizabethan clothes and it was I could do not die laughing. Yeah. I am that easy.
This is the first original fiction novel by Dan Abnett but he is no newbie to writing. He has penned several comics for Marvel and DC (OMG check out his bio in comic book style!) , tie-in novelizations and several novels for Games Workshop. If you are already a fan of the above, I don’t see why you wouldn’t enjoy Triumff.
For the newbies that think that the plot is interesting but you are not sure about the writing style, you can check excerpts from Triumff here.
Verdict: Triumff is a fun read, a plot-driven novel which although not completely knocking my socks off, it kept me entertained for a couple of hours.
Rating: 6 Good. Recommended with reservations
Reading Next: Ash by Malinda Lo