Spirit: The Princess of Bois Dormant (Gollancz)

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9780575084445: Spirit: The Princess of Bois Dormant (Gollancz)

Bibi (it means princess) is the sole survivor of a massacre. Lady Nef, the General's wife, stops the General taking her as a concubine, winning Bibi's eternal and passionate devotion. Years later, a diplomatic mission to a supposedly friendly planet ends in disaster. Bibi, now a junior officer in Lady Nef's household, is incarcerated with her mistress in the notorious high-security prison on Fenmu. Lady Nef, 150 years old when arrested, dies in prison; she bequeaths to Bibi her rank, her level of access to the AI systems that permeate the Diaspora of inhabited planets, and a highly secret set of 4-space co-ordinates. Bibi uses Lady Nef's death to escape from Fenmu, finds Spirit, an instantaneous-transit space pod, and follows Lady Nef's co-ordinates to a treasure beyond price: a virgin, perfect, uninhabited planet.

Soon after this, the mysterious, fantastically wealthy Princess of Bois Dormant makes her debut in the high society of Speranza, the Diaspora's capital city. Thus disguised, Bibi sets out to discover why she and her mistress were condemned to a living hell; and to punish the guilty. Twenty years have passed: Lady Nef's enemies now rule Speranza. As she uncovers a forgotten, ruthless and far-reaching conspiracy, Bibi's vengeance is transformed into a project of world-changing reparation.

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Review:

The bones of this story are familiar from The Count of Monte Cristo yet it is very effective, re-imagined as a fantastic space opera. Spirit is a memorable combination of cutting-edge science with old-fashioned, swash-buckling romance from one of the most intelligent and unsettling of modern science-fiction writers." (Lisa Tuttle THE TIMES)

Part Count(ess) of Monte-Cristo in space, part space opera, and part sociological/gender SF, 'Spirit: The Princess Du Bois Dormant' is a wonderful, wonderful novel that instantly made me a huge fan of Gwyneth Jones and has vaulted into my Top Five Science Fiction novels of 2008 (Robert Thompson FANTASY BOOK CRITIC)

A serious, grown-up novel that riffs on current concerns by, for example, casting as its outsider heroine a woman born into a fundamentalist, tribal society. ( BBC FOCUS)

The reader picks up a sprawling space opera with certain expectations: a fast pace, exotic settings, mysterious aliens, badly behaved (and also much-abused) nobility, plenty of off-world adventure and intrigue. In her new book, Spirit, Gwyneth Jones delivers all these and more. Because Jones is arguably among the very smartest people writing within the genre of science fiction (or anywhere else), the reader is left quite happily with much to think about after the final page has been turned. (Karen Joy Fowler THE GUARDIAN)

There are strong femal protagonists and Jones is clever with her constant referencing to literary history. I could not stop turnign the pages to the end, marvelling at this futuristic world Jones has created with such human characters, human voices and human worries. Jones' beautifully drawn characters are testament to her skill. The best sci-fi book I've ever read. (Martha Lane MSLEXIA)

A well-written piece of space opera, stuffed with thought-provoking characterisation, themes and a fantastic galactic tapestry that all feels real. An epic you'll be thinking about long after finishing it. ( DEATHRAY)

Review:

"A rollicking reengineering of The Counte of Monte Cristo. This is also a serious, grown up novel that riffs on current concerns by, for example, casting as its outsider heroine a woman born into a fundamentalist tribal society." 4/5 -- Jonathan Wright BBC FOCUS "Noose-tight plotting and the author's characteristic, searching interest in biological science fiction. Jones's material is inventive... the plotting and pacing are well judged. With Spirit, Jones has inverted, and illuminated, the Count of Monte Cristo." -- Nic Clarke SFX

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