Read The Great Game by Lavie Tidhar Online


The Lizardine Empire is under threat. When Mycroft Holmes is murdered in London it is up to retired shadow executive Smith to track down his killer, and stumble on the greatest conspiracy of his life....

Title : The Great Game
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780857661982
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 416 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

The Great Game Reviews

  • Mpauli
    2019-04-20 08:37

    The Great Game is the third and final installment in Lavie Tidhar's amazing Bookman Chronicles series.As the protagonists change again from the first and second book, this might even be read as a standalone as the events of the first two books are reiterated, but I would strongly suggest to read all three books in the series as the first two are great reads as well.In Lavie Tidhar's version of the Victorian Era, the most notably change to our own history is the rise of Les Lezards, reptillian humanoids who were found on Caliban's Island by the explorer Vespucci. They are rumored to be aliens and with their technology they made themselves the rulers of Great Britain, so Queen Victoria is a walking lizard.One of the fun aspects of Lavie Tidhar's world is the invlovement of a lot of historical persons or characters of historical fiction. It's a bit like the 19th century version of Pokemon, you wanna catch all the references to the mentioned figures.The story is the climax of the events of book 1 and 2, which I won't spoil here, but many secret agencies from different countries are involved.Therefore our 3 main protagonists are also part of the spy world. The most prominent character is Mr. Smith, a retired assassin of the british intelligence agency only know as "The Bureau".When his former boss is killed and he barely survives an attempt on his own life, he realizes that noone really retires from the great game and he sets out to find the people responsible.Another british agent is Lucy Westenra (originally she's a character from Bram Stoker's Dracula), who is tasked with the acquisition of a lost relic.The third and final character is the famous escape artist Harry Houdini, who works for the vespuccian (american) Council of Chiefs and was present at the events of the World Fair in Shikakwa (Chicago), which played a part in book 2.How these 3 characters are involved into the whole story and if we finally understand what the mysterious bookman is up to is for the reader to find out.I have to say that I wasn't that happy with the solution and the final book wasn't as great as the first two were, but it was still an entertaining 4 star read, so overall this is a steampunk trilogy I can wholeheartedly recommend.

  • Nikki
    2019-04-19 05:29

    The number of literary references dizzy and delight me, but somehow don't make up for the fact that I'm still left with so many questions. This trilogy is a lot of fun, quick-paced and full of allusions and minglings of history and fiction and a possible future. There are some great kickass female characters (and I don't just mean Lucy Westenra, Action Heroine, I mean Havisham as well, and Irene Adler, and Queen Victoria). It's hard to take it seriously, though, partly because it's such a mass of allusions and homages. The plots of a dozen other stories swirl up with Lavie Tidhar's plot and I just can't keep them separate -- and I imagine anyone who hasn't read a fair few of the books referenced would be equally confused in the other direction.

  • Gary
    2019-04-19 09:30

    I enjoyed the first two books in the series a great deal but this one gets 3 rather than 4 stars because of the disjointedness to the storyline. There are some good characters and the start is very reminiscent of a cold war thriller - which is good in my books - but the characters don't get developed enough and the pace drops considerably in the Harry Houdini sections, when I had hoped they might pick up. The Steam Punk/Noir feel that the first two books create so well could have continued because by God there are enough characters from literary history to delight anyone but at times It felt that the author was struggling to maintain the narrative thread and several times I found myself thinking that passages of dialogue were unnecessary and repetitive, vague and if it was a real conversation I would have thought that the speaker was trying to gather their thoughts as they struggled to focus on the topic. Overall I still enjoyed it but just not as much as the first two in the series - hey, writers can't pull off terrific books everytime.

  • Andrew Knighton
    2019-03-30 11:39

    The Great Game is a story of spycraft and intrigue set in Tidhar's Bookman world, a 19th century alternate history with lizard monarchs, alien devices and literary characters roaming the streets. That name - the Bookman - draws attention to the sort of characters we're dealing with here - literary borrowings such as Mycroft Holmes and Victor Frankenstein, as well as archetypes such as The Bookman's Orphan and this volume's retired secret agent Smith.Despite their well worn familiarity, those characters are one of the absolute highlights of this book. In particular, the reluctantly re-activated Smith and current agent Lucy are vivid, well depicted characters who I found good company and excellent drivers for their strands of the story. They're clever and determined, pressing on through the confusion and overwhelming odds of their circumstances. Though Camera Obscura's Milady remains my favourite protagonist from this series, these are good.Smith and Lucy's paths, and those of the other characters, take them through a journey that's one part John le Carré tension, one part Bond-style action, and one part crazy. That weird and wonderful world is a big part of the appeal of this series, and it plays off here in spectacular style. The spies are doubly spy-like, the crazy ten times what it was, creating a sense that both the characters and the story could be overwhelmed at any moment.Therein lies both the beauty and the problem of this book. I know others have found this plot chaotic, though I thought it cleverly intertwined rather than rambling like the first book. But it definitely lacks coherence in places, most critically the ending. Without giving the great game away, I felt that the ending lacked the sort of closure a thousand page series left me wanting, while not giving me enough to instead ponder the possibilities of what would come next.Look at the book's cover. Isn't it bold? Isn't it dynamic? Doesn't it fill you with a desire for retro, pulpy, genre-mashing action? That's what I wanted, even expected at first, from these books, and it's an expectation they didn't deliver on. They're fascinating but flawed, far stronger in their ideas than their narrative cohesion, the bit players often more intriguing than the protagonists.I'm glad I read this series, and that I saw it through to the end. These are good books. I'd even go so far as to call Camera Obscura great. But they don't deliver on what they seem to promise, and that, for me, was their downfall.

  • Andrew
    2019-03-24 09:30

    Conclusion of madcap Victoriana alien invasion trilogy. In 1899-ish, Agent Smith has retired to a backwater village -- no points for guessing the number on his door. Then he gets a message: Mycroft is dead. The message is closely followed by a horde of Hapsburgian assassins. The Great Game is afoot, as Mycroft's brother (also retired) might have said.Everyone then spends a satisfying number of pages chasing around after the mysterious murderer. The book's cover shows Martian tripods devastating their way along, so you may presume that aliens are involved. It's good old-fashioned pulp of all flavors -- assassins, assignations, monsters, sewer chases, airships -- circling (as all spy-story pulp should) around the mirror-hall of shadows which is loyalty among spies. The book's epigraph, of course, is from Kipling's _Kim_.I won't even try to list the literary references which I noted in passing (because I only noted them in my head) (because writing them down would have eaten a lot of paper, and would not have been the point anyhow).Do we get a grand explanation of how an alternate history came to be full of Holmeses, Foggs, Jeckylls, Westenras, Frankensteins, and so on? (Not to mention the Stokers, Houdinis, Babbages, and Mrs Beetons flipped into international spies and politicians.) Well -- no. I still think the author has something specific in mind, given the centrality of the Bookman and its copying ways. But it's not a big-reveal book; nor is it a one-grand-scheme sort of trilogy. It's a book (and trilogy) which winds its schtick to the highest pitch and then lets it sail off into the Paris skyline. As it were.

  • Dawn
    2019-03-24 08:46

    Though still enjoyable, this third book in the series dragged along at times. It is a classic espionage plot, which means there's a slow build and not a lot of action until approaching the climax. But there are so many recognizable characters here, some of whom carried over from the earlier novels. But not just characters from the author's imagination - we're talking Houdini, Holmes, Bram Stoker, Dr. Jekyl, Viktor Frankenstein and more. The situations that Tidhar has put these people in throughout the series have been pretty inventive, which is what makes all of these books enjoyable.

  • Leo Knight
    2019-03-24 13:45

    Oh, very well. THIS REVIEW MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS!This is the second novel which led me to adopt the 100 page rule. To try and be fair, this is the third in a series, and perhaps I missed a great deal by not reading the first two, but I don't think so. By rights, I should have loved this book. Consider an alternate Earth, steampunk, Victorian gaslight 'romans scientifique,' name-dropping all sorts of famous literary and historical characters from the period. A brief list of the dramatis personae: Sherlock and Mycroft Holmes, Irene Adler, Fagin, Oliver Twist, Lucy Westenra, Jonathan Harker, Prof. Van Helsing, Viktor Frankenstein, Quasimodo, robot Lord Byron (!), the mad scientist Ivan Pavlov and his dogs, Harry Houdini...and many more. The setting posits an alternative world, where Amerigo Vespucci unleashed reptilian aliens from a Caribbean island. These creatures came to England and founded the dynasty of the Lizard Kings and Queens, or "Les Lezards," as the French call them. Yes, The author took David Icke's conspiracy theory, and made it literal: actual reptilian overlords. The technologies of steam, clockwork, Edison, Tesla, Frankenstein, and Jekyll, not to mention the almost magical alien gadgets, make the world seem strange and dangerous.And yet, I was bored. Most of the characters act as pawns in "The Great Game" of espionage. No one, except perhaps Mycroft Holmes, knows the true scope of the game. Characters are given orders or cryptic clues, sent hither and yon, but to what end? A few are double agents, or some multiple of agents, playing various sides against each other. An early featured character, Smith, an aging spy brought out of retirement, simply doesn't care. He does what he's told, goes where he's told, a very "been there, done that" attitude. I strongly dislike conspiracy fiction, and aimless, blasé characters.The book has a great deal of violence. Knives, guns, fisticuffs, explosives, darts, syringes, all find themselves applied to human flesh. Typically, an agent will find him- or herself in a tight spot. A number of faceless, nameless goons, perhaps Hapsburg agents will burst in. The agent will eliminate about half a dozen mooks with speed, grace and economy, having studied at the Shaolin Temple. At least once per fight, someone will take a knife thrust, and his assailant will lay him almost gently to the ground. Our agent will then find him/herself outnumbered, and some preposterous deus ex machina will save their bacon. Lather, rinse, repeat.Despite all the celebrity characters, I think the novel would have improved by using original characters. Several times, I found myself reading a name, thinking, "Oh boy, Col. Sebastian Moran! What will he do?" and then being disappointed when the character either doesn't show up at all, or does and disappoints.All in all, quite a letdown. However, If I ever start a band, I will call it Ivan Pavlov and the Dogs.

  • Chris Galford
    2019-04-09 12:55

    So, do you…steampunk? Honestly, it’s the best (and only) way to introduce The Great Game because it is its dominant trait. Think Cheryl Priest—except whereas her works take place in Civil War era America, this one transports readers to Victorian Europe, a land where everything runs like clockwork. Or, on clockwork.No, really. This may be alternate history, but the alternate should be in all caps—the British Empire is ruled by aliens, and not just any aliens, but alien lizards. Everyone who said the lizardman phenomenon was coming for us was apparently right—they just had the time frame off a little bit. Oh, and France? Automatons, the lot of them. Amazing, what a little steam and clockwork can pull off.Suffice to say, the setting is pretty jarring. We’re not in Kansas anymore and all that; it does take some getting used to. Fortunately, historical and literary characters are there to help guide us through the adjustment period—though not in any real way we would be familiar with them for. Sherlock Holmes? Real and retired. Harry Houdini? Agent on the move. Yes, there’s more than one joke in there somewhere.Would that any of these characters had the depth to bring extra life to a very colorful world, but unfortunately, no one’s really kept up with for too long. The world and the mysteries themselves are our real characters, and they drive this book forward, through a rather chaotic smattering of events.Which brings us, in a rather roundabout way, to the plot. Agents of “the Bureau” are on the case of several murders, through shadowy intrigues and some rather colorful expositions. Despite that, erm, rather bland unveiling, though, I will note the plot’s problem is that, while it manages to stay pretty vibrant throughout, it can get a bit…shall we say…chaotic? The fact that the characters are not really at the heart of things certainly doesn’t help.It is fun. You will be amused. But if you’re looking for more than that, you may be in for some disappointment. With all this attention dedicated to the mystery and the plot, over character, one would think the climax and resolution would be especially key, the answers to all the great exploratory questions—and yet, there is little resolution. It’s a book that can be raced through, leaving little along the way; it will entertain while it’s read, but there’s not much that will cling to the shadows of the mind in its aftermath.Just don’t let the lizards know I told you.

  • Caleb Wilson
    2019-04-02 10:27

    Last book of a trilogy which started brilliantly--but I don't think the rest of it holds up to the first chapter of the first volume, The Bookman, which promised so much. A main problem is the one that these books won't seem very original if you've read the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. Not that unoriginality is necessarily a problem, since this is a pastiche (of pastiches, in some cases) after all, but my main problem is that none of the re-purposed characters were quite as cool as Alan Moore's best (say, Orlando or Pirate Jenny), and I believe that a pastiche should be more awesome than its source, otherwise, what's the point? This third one also suffered from that syndrome whose name I don't know where the first novel is well-written because much more time was lavished upon it, but the later volumes, written and edited much quicker, aren't as good.That being said, the setting was nicely stuffed with weirdness. It was fun rooting out all the changes, minor and otherwise, from our own world. (David Icke-style lizards openly ruling England, check. "Vespuccia" ruled by powerful clans, check. Weirdly enhanced position of authors in society, yes.) Many of Tidhar's combinations of characters are surprising and fun, as is his willingness to have odd and unexpected things happen to characters both borrowed (Phileas Fogg, Lucy Westenra) and historical (Charles Babbage, Harry Houdini.) And lastly, I do like the writing here, even if it isn't as polished as anything else I've read by Tidhar. There's a rollicking momentum to the story, which is admirable considering how many references are stuffed into it, and he has his own modified form of the "clipped" thriller syntax, in which, during action scenes, many sentences are fragments that end on a hyphen. (Which I grew to like.)

  • Cécile C.
    2019-04-05 10:56

    A fun read! I picked this book without having read The Bookman or Camera Obscura, but I had no problem understanding what happened either (it's part of a continuity, but it works perfectly as a standalone). The world-building was dizzying and the dozens of cameo appearances of Victorian fictional and historical characters lots of fun. I enjoyed seeing Lucy Westenra, Miss Havisham and Phileas Fogg in a new light, as well as the new take on the War of the Worlds. That being said, I'd call this a definitely fun reading, but would hesitate to call it profound. It's not a problem by any means, and perhaps that's exactly what the author intended, so all's well! But if you're looking for a commentary on Victorian times, a literary or philosophical insight into the 19th century, you should probably look for something else. It's fun to see Lucy Westenra as a female steampunk James Bond, but Tidhar's character doesn't have much connexion to Stoker's aside from the name, and one gets the impression that he could have swapped the names around without too many consequences. But this may be the beauty or the weakness of steampunk (depending on how you see it), and not of this particular book: it's a genre that treats the entire Victorian period as a myth, and uses it as a setting without much commentary or distance, pretty much in the same way that mediaeval fantasy treated the Middle Ages. Steampunk is still new enough to avoid sounding cliché, so most works will benefit from the fun and novelty of the genre; but they often suffer (or benefit) from a relative lack of depth. However, the results, especially in this precise case, can be lots of fun, and The Great Game also benefits from idhar's usual gorgeous writing.

  • Tom Loock
    2019-04-17 07:42

    The Bookman-series took a turn for the (even) better with this third entry. At this level I look forward to stay with it and I am happy to give four stars to The Great Game because it's fun, thrilling and entertaining all the way through. It's not so much the story, but Lavie Tidhar is getting better as a writer. I would still call him 'talented' and 'promising' though, because he is not 'there' yet. When he gets there, I hope there is a there there. Sorry - I couldn't resist. Seriously: When Tidhar get's 'there', he will be very good indeed, maybe even excellent.The plot is more convoluted, though this third novel has the problem of many 'middle'-books that have to carry previous story lines and introduce new ones, while keeping the overall story in mind. I imagine that some story lines which seem superfluous or at least redundant at this point, are vital for the big showdown.Tidhar keeps using (and introducing more and more) fictional characters by other writers as even very minor characters of his own. This is ... fun and no doubt for many readers one reason they buy the books, but I'm looking forward to a Tidhar-novel with his own characters.Finally, a word about the publisher. Angry Robot deserves full credit for the most excellent cover design (front AND back) and I keep buying more and more of their books.

  • Matt
    2019-04-21 05:37

    A steampunk/ SF novel that wraps up a trilogy that maybe also includes elements of time travel from a previous volume (maybe, or else I was misunderstanding some of the potted summaries of previous events), this also does that “League of Extraordinary Gentleman” thing of connecting lots of different literary and occasionally historical figures. So we get Mycraft Holmes and Phineas Fogg rubbing elbows with Alice (Liddell or the character from Lewis’ book; I’m not certain) and Harry Houdini, among others. It’s kind of exciting, but it also has the unfortunate effect of flattening these disparate characters into one plot, so that they are all, by default, bad-ass spies. Like a lot of genre work, all the characters are experts at whatever they do—so Smith, our main protagonist, is pretty unstoppable, but then so is everyone else, except for poor Houdini, who dies every time he appears. I found it kind of repetitive, with too many explosions and not enough red herrings or surprises, but I can see how the unwinding of the plot is interesting enough by itself to not demand too much more. For the end of the trilogy, it was either inconclusive or else ironic, which is definitely a change from the kind of triumphalism I expect at the end of an epic story like this. In other words, it’s not terrible by any means, but by virtue of being the third in the series, maybe I didn’t totally appreciate parts of what Tidhar was doing.

  • Woodge
    2019-04-12 08:49

    This is the final book in one of the odder trilogies I've read. One of the ways this trilogy is unusual is that it's very nearly a fresh set of characters in each book -- there are only a few cross-over characters. The setting is an alternate Victorian England where the royalty has been replaced by alien race of lizards. Some characters argue that it's been for the better, other characters argue that they shouldn't be governed by an alien race. The Great Game has three major protagonists, and, like in the previous books, you may recognize some of the names. They are: Smith (an erstwhile retired operative called in to investigate the death of Mycroft Holmes), Lucy Westenra (headstrong operative working for Mycroft), and Harry Houdini (recruited by Mycroft). Part of the fun of these books is catching all the literary references within. Ideas and character names are freely borrowed from such sources as Doyle, Stoker, Dickens, Hugo, etc. The story careens from one scene to the next -- which keeps the pages turning swiftly -- but, like in the first book (The Bookman), I was often confused by what exactly the characters were doing. And, like the characters, often wondered exactly what was going on. That was annoying. Regardless, I enjoyed this trilogy but I must say that I liked the middle book, Camera Obscura, the best.

  • Tony Calder
    2019-04-02 05:53

    Having a particular interest in the Great Game - the historical one, not this book - I was really looking forward to this final chapter in Lavie Tidhar's Bookman trilogy. (For those unaware of the term, the Great Game refers to the political machinations (often in the shadows) of mid to late 19th century Europe.)The book starts promisingly, as do the first 2 books of the trilogy, but then suffers from the same problems as beset the middle installment - it tends to meander too much. Tidhar has created a fascinating universe, and has obviously enjoyed himself with his take on both the historical and fictional characters from the period. But I found that his delight (somewhat shared by the reader) in exploring this universe, did detract from advanced the plot to some degree. And the ending is lacking - there doesn't seem to be a real conclusion, the story just sort of ends.

  • Elliott
    2019-04-01 07:48

    The problem with the Bookman series is that it never quite lived up to the blurbs on the back cover, and of the three only the first was enjoyable to me. This-the last in the series-seemed ambitious in cover art, and jacket synopsis and after a particularly disappointing second installment I was hoping that this would in effect redeem the trilogy, and at first it did. Smith's narrative, and Lucy's narrative proved particularly exciting, the pages flew, but towards the middle the story began to drag. I did not find Houdini's portion very well done, and the ending I felt left too much to be desired, and too many strings left dangling to be anything less than the uninspiring conclusion to an uninspiring trilogy.

  • Liviu
    2019-04-03 06:44

    Another series ending (maybe?) and again I plan to talk later more and have a full review, but in short i would say two things:- first 3/4 (more or less) of the novel are awesome and i thought this would be a top 25 of mine, but the ending is a bit disappointing and this is why i hope for more; it will be a major spoiler to say why but essentially it suffers from the "great tension, great danger, way too easy out" syndrome- i realized why I love so much this whole series - nostalgia - as something that has Jules Verne, Karl May, Sherlock Holmes, Winnetou, Milady de Winter, the Comte Rochefort, Van helsing, Bram Stoker, Viktor Frankenstein, Harry Houdini, etc etc as characters - cannot be but wonderful if done well

  • Charlie
    2019-03-29 12:51

    Each of the Bookman Histories books have had a different central figure. This one is focused on an old spy who does not much like living in the retirement village for old spies - a lovely idea in its own right. There is plenty of action and intrigue and a delightfully well constructed literary Steampunk environment. I felt in this one maybe (if you are looking for something to criticize) he was trying a little too hard on the literary front and was a little less tantalizing than before. I don't think we necessarily needed quite so much War of the Worlds. It was a tad unsubtle. Apart from that, once again a cracking good read and a 'must have' for the (Kindle) bookshelf.

  • Barry Huddleston
    2019-04-15 11:40

    This ain’t your granddaddy’s steampunk, if in an alternate time-line your granddaddy had steampunk. The marvelous and oddly disturbing mind of Lavie Tidhar has once again cranked out an awesome steampunk novel.The pace is fast and the book is packed with action. I loved the interaction with the historical and fictional characters. As with Bookman and Camera Obscura, The Great Game is a standalone novel. Having said that, treat yourself to all three.I highly recommend The Great Game to steampunk fans!

  • Misha
    2019-03-28 09:36

    I read a review that said this book was readable alone even though it is the third part of a trilogy. While that is true... it was rather less engaging I assume, and now I think I would enjoy the previous two less if I wanted to read them. So consider that. This book, however, was engaging enough. I assume by date that it cam before Mark Hodder's series so the novelty of the idea was missing and what must have been a gathering in of previous characters felt... lile name-dropping. An enjoyable romp, but it felt too steampunk.

  • Nighteye
    2019-04-20 10:54

    Strangest of the Bookman-book, a lot more fragmentory then the other ones and full of diffirent stories that I even aint sure why he couldnt take away one or two of the stories to avoid the jumps between stories. Even if I understand what they have in common that gett explained in the end of this book.This as the other books only have in common with each other the world and some minor characters but the head protagonists are new.

  • Grimread
    2019-04-17 12:30

    I'm not sure how to review this book because I'm not sure where this story was going. I get this is supposed to be an espionage theme but it's a Great Game that everybody seems to know they are playing a part and maybe only a few characters really see the big picture of it but it certainly doesn't answer any questions. Mainly what what the actual point of the game? Did this game even end? And if so, who was the real winner?

  • Chris
    2019-04-13 09:27

    2.5 stars. It's never a good sign when I put off writing a review for a month and then can't even remember what happened in the book. I remember some credibility-busting coincidences, and a lot of characters pulled from history and fiction with no-to-little pay off. Harry Houdini is the exception to this - he has a sort of running gag in the book that is dark, but hilarious.

  • Sua
    2019-04-18 10:54

    So many unanswered questions!! But I preferred this one over the 2nd one and the end to this trilogy was good enough for me. Particularly liked how everything came together throughout the three books through each new character. The mentions too. I wonder what actually became of that strange creature The Bookman at the end. Or Lucy...

  • Bill
    2019-04-11 07:49

    What does Harry Houdini (and his many copies), Bram Stoker, Van Helsing, Quasimodo, Jekyll & Hyde, Pavlov, Moriarty, Oscar Wilde, Sitting Bull and a lizard Queen Victoria all have in common? I am still not really sure and still trying to untangle everything about the trilogy in my head.

  • Dan
    2019-04-13 09:32

    The author "jumped the shark" on this one. I enjoyed the first two books in the series, but I abandoned this one. It's great that the author knows his Victorian history, but I don't need him to prove it to me - I just want a good read.

  • Helen
    2019-04-06 11:45

    My introduction to Steampunk. A fun read, though I discovered halfway through that it was the third in a series.(Dang!) Now I have to read Books 1 and 2.

  • branewurms
    2019-04-14 07:55

    A bit messy and scattered, hard to follow. Nice imagery, though.

  • Steven S.
    2019-04-23 09:37

    Lots of fun meeting all the characters from other stories. I have to admit I'm a bit bemused by the ending.

  • Ben Chenoweth
    2019-03-28 07:32

    An exciting end to the trilogy. Again, the author adds new main characters but again it works. The action comes thick and fast, and while the twists aren't too unexpected, the ending is satisfying.

  • Alistair
    2019-04-23 11:52