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The Quantum Thief by Hannu Rajaniemi

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There is much in Hannu Rajaniemi's use of fantastical conceits, familiar as they are, which might annoy studious intellects: the farcical nature of costume and disguise, the somewhat foreboding boasts between the races of worse things to come, as is hinted at by a Zoku elder in a past battle with a Sobornost warmind, but the author of the Jean le Flambeur overcomes the threat of diffusion through the marvel of an intricate plot which creates its own natural high.

The Quantum Thief is part futurist action thriller, akin to the Mission Impossible franchise, part classical detective story, one which respects the character development of its anti-heroes and impassioned villains. In the outer frame of the tale, Mieli rescues le Flambeur from a prison which threatens the playful thief with oblivion. Mieli is a warrior angel evocative of the samurai, on a mission for a higher order of being known as the pellegrini.

Parallel to this are the interlocking chapters of the Martian detective Isidore, an architecture student who gains notoriety, much like Sherlock Holmes, through solving crimes. Beneath the the surface of these complicated entanglements, however, Rajaniemi evokes a nostalgia for a nearly bygone analogue, mechanical age, one that made up our toy lands, and binds us to delightful seasonal tales like The Nutcracker ballet .

Familiarity with Leblanc's Lupin is not required to intuit that Flambeur is the pleasurable rake that keep characters like the Scarlet Pimpernel in vogue. Rajaniemi offers up the rare combination, an author who makes considerable demands, while inviting fans of the trilogy to join in the fun.

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