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The Ghost of the Revelator [Mass Market Paperback]

L. E. Modesitt
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)

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Book Description

June 15 1999 Ghost Trilogy (Book 2)
L.E. Modesitt, Jr., has gained a legion of devoted fans for his science fiction as well as his epic fantasy novels. The Ghost of the Revelator is one of the best displays yet of his ability to blend dramatic, imaginative stories with rigorous social and scientific extrapolation.

Doktor Johan Eschbach (the central character of Modesitt's popular alternate history SF novel, Of Tangible Ghosts) had hoped for a quiet life in retirement from the intelligence service, teaching environmental science at the University of New Bruges and living with his new wife, the vocalist Llysette du Boise. Llysette, a refugee from the burning remains of France, would herself like little more than to resume her singing career and forget her time in the prison camps of the Hapsburg Empire.

But an unusual invitation from the Mormon nation of Deseret inexorably drags Johan back into the spy business, though he isn't quite sure why or for whom. It quickly becomes apparent that he is being used as a pawn in a deadly game of international maneuverings that are leading the world closer to war.

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From Amazon

Following up on the inventive Of Tangible Ghosts, L.E. Modesitt Jr. takes us back to his balkanized, techno-colonial vision of America, an alternate history in which the English colony at Plymouth failed long ago and New France, Columbia, Quebec, and the Mormon state of Deseret scheme and scrap for control of the continent and its resources. A land of dirigibles and difference engines, Modesitt's eerily refined world is compelling and coolly original, a place where you still drive to work in a car--albeit steam-powered--but think nothing of waving good morning to the zombies raking leaves off your lawn.

The protagonist of Tangible Ghosts, college professor and former secret agent Johan Eschbach, is back in this espionage thriller, now married to world-class singer and fellow former spy Lysette duBoise. Amidst intrigue and having barely survived an attempt on their lives, the two head off to Salt Lake City after Lysette is invited to sing there by Deseret's Mormon government. Of course nothing is quite as it seems: the situation quickly becomes complicated as Austro-Hungary tries to derail any cooperation between Columbia and Deseret, and a fanatic splinter group kidnaps Lysette to force Eschbach to summon the ghost of the Revelator, no less than Joseph Smith. With its smooth and measured action and its novel and well-developed characters and setting, Ghost of the Revelator is a rich, rewarding read. --Paul Hughes --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

Like the portions of pasta, chocolate and wine that figure heavily in the diet of retired spy?now amateur chef and university professor?Johan Eschbach and his diva wife, Llysette, too many themes weigh down the fragile story line of Modesitt's new installment in the couple's battle with evil bureaucracy in a contemporary alternative North America. Eschbach's singular expertise with the "ghost technology" introduced in Of Tangible Ghosts now involves him and Llysette in dastardly plotting among the nations of New France, Mormon-dominated Deseret and Dutch-settled Columbia, all scheming to replace their steam-driven economies with syn-fueled military might. Intriguing ethical issues of ghost raising and zombie-izing seem to evaporate here, because Modesitt gets bogged down in environmentalism, two-career marriage angst, the eternal professorial woes of apathetic students and conniving administrators and the perils of an alternative Latter Day Saint theocracy. Too dependent on its predecessor for the comfort of new readers, Eschbach's current adventure is flavored minimally with science, limited chiefly to dirigibles and Stanley Steamers, while Llysette's pseudo-French dialogue ("Little she holds back") is as cloying as too much Bearnaise. All told, Modesitt reveals little that's new or savory here.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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First Sentence
THE LATE-OCTOBER New Bruges drizzle-more liquid ice than rain on that Friday night-clicked off the Stanley's thermal finish all the way down from the house into Vanderbraak Centre. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
Format:Mass Market Paperback
[paired review with Of Tangible Ghosts]
Johan Eschbach, retired from an eventful career in service to
Columbia as a naval aviator, Spazi agent, and cabinet minister,
now teaches environmental economics at Vanderbraak State
University in New Bruges (New Hampshire in OTL). Doktor
Eschbach lost both his wife and daughter in a political murder --
he himself was badly wounded -- and he would like nothing better
than a quiet life in this academic backwater. But that would make
for a dull book, and he is soon caught up in a murder
investigation, love affair, political intrigues, and secret military
research into "deghosting".
Doktor Eschbach's solution to the ensuing tangle is
"rather appalling and not entirely credible" [note 1].
"A land of dirigibles and difference engines, Modesitt's
eerily refined world is compelling and coolly original, a place where
you still drive to work in a car--albeit steam-powered--but think
nothing of waving good morning to the zombies raking leaves off the
lawn." -- Paul Hughes,
Ghost of the Revelator picks up Doktor Eschbach and his new
wife Llysette Du Boise as her singing career is taking off, and
as the messy ending to "Tangible" comes back to haunt Eschbach.
The story unfolds slowly, but the same wonderful details of
everyday life that enlivened the first book -- lunch at a favorite
cafe, icy roads, dense, lazy, occasionally sharp students, petty
academic politics, politicians who can "smile and smile and be a
villain" -- make the trip worthwhile.
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2.0 out of 5 stars Uneven and confusing June 5 2000
I didn't read the precurser to this novel, which may have been a handicap, but I am an unabashed fan of the Recluce and Ecolitan books by Modesitt, and I was expecting realistic characters and a logically consistant universe. I didn't say mundane or "normal", I said "logically consistant". Well, the characters were quite real, but the world was... Frankly, words fail me. This book is billed as an alternate history; Ok, but an alternate history of WHAT? Historical names are mentioned, but the apparent timeline is completely out of sync. The archduke Ferdinand and Tony Blair in political contention? Really. The book is roughly two-thirds expostulation and I still couldn't figure out where (geographically) the story actually takes place and who the geopolitical players are and where they're located! Add the whole "Ghosts" premise, and I went thru "suspension of disbelief" and out the other side. I'm sorry, but this book either should have come with a warning label to see the previous volume or it truly needed the services of a good editor. I give it two stars based entirely on the strength of the characters. The world and the plot were a mess.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Enh Jan. 7 1999
By A Customer
This is a sequel to "Of Tangible Ghosts", but it doesn't seem to add much that is new to the previous story.
It's a combination of alternate history (something to do with the Mayflower settlement failing) and ghosts actually existing. This seemed to work in "Of Tangible Ghosts" -- which I quite likes -- but here is just blah.
There is some interesting stuff involving resource (energy and water) politics between "Columbia" (our eastern US), Deseret, and "New France" (our Mexico and California), but it gets lost in the end when the ghost story is allowed to take over. And that's between the recipes that seem to dominate whenever the main character and his wife have a meal!
Anyway, I have a feeling in the back of my mind that Modesitt is setting the story up for something interesting between "Columbia" and the Austria-Hungary which dominates Europe in this weird alternate history. But whatever that is, it will be in a subsequent volume. This just seems to be an intermediary to get you from book one to a not-yet-published book three, and so doesn't really do a whole heck of a lot to advance the tale.
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5.0 out of 5 stars An exciting thriller with both spooks and spies. Nov. 24 1998
By A Customer
If John Le Carre tried his hand at alternate history the result might be similar to The Ghost of the Revelator. Maybe -- assuming Le Carre grafted elements of science fiction and fantasy onto his creation, enjoyed opera, and was feeling particularly quirky. As with the best Le Carre, Modesitt's characters live in shades of grey, struggling to make ethical decisions in a world where good is ambiguous but evil can be absolute.
Professor Johann Eschbach, hero of Tangible Ghosts, is a newly tenured professor of Natural Resources at Vanderbraak State University, former Subminister for Environmental Protection, and former highly successful covert operative for the Spazi, a state security agency every bit as warm and cuddly as its nickname. Not surprisingly, Eschbach is far more enamored of his retirement from government service than his former employer despite his "insurance policy".
The one bright spot in Eschbach's life is his recent marriage to Doktor Llysette duBois, a once famous opera singer who came to the university in exile after the fall of old France. Between the Ghost books and his acclaimed Spellsong Cycle fantasy series, Modesitt demonstrates extraordinary interest in and insight into the character of beautiful, supremely talented sopranos.
Revelator's world, although contemporary, diverges from our own by presuming changes in a few key historical events, particularly the failure of the English colony at Plymouth and the early death of George Washington. The result is a North America which is far more politically fractured than in our world. Columbia, Eschbach's Dutch-Anglo home, is bordered to the south by New France, to the north by Quebec, and to the west by Deseret -- a Latter-Day Saint republic that still permits polygamy.
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