I’m sure the “steampunk” genre that this book kicked off is far more interesting. I was so excited to read a seminal work of something, and I felt hip and cool to open the book, but it’s a bore fest. And a sausage fest. Seriously–there are so few contexts in which a story about only men are interesting, and this was a trilogy. War, war, war. It’s enough to make Scarlett O’Hara swear!
There was one woman in all three books. It was the same person. She was named “Una Persson” if you can believe it and she was either a consort or a consort. In the last pages of the last book there’s some crying because she was unable to stop the bomb from dropping. So we are to deduce that even though she’s been trying for three books to change the course of history she is ineffectual. Perhaps the author was making a point that no individual can accomplish anything in a symbolic way (because he puts lots of speeches into characters’ mouths to say it explicitly). The woman also appears to mention that there’s a whole secret society of time travelers and to take the main character to the League. She is a messenger, here. She doesn’t even initiate him herself. Oh, she also delivers some letters from one guy to another. I had observed all these things in the first book and had hoped that the third book–written in the 1980s–would have fleshed out her character a little. Nope. She’s just a beautiful tool.
I just lost patience with the franchise. I am sure that steampunk is a creative field with lots of good storytelling and imaginative characters, and so we should credit Moorcock for starting it (or at least thank the fan of his who makes that claim on Wikipedia). I’m just not sure I could stand to read another book by him. Alternate history always disappoints me, and most of the time it has interpersonal relationships and dialogue.
I would conclude that Moorcock had some political issues to work out, and that most of them involved the bomb. And monorails.