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I would have liked a little detail on how Caesar convinced a Senate that already saw him as a tyrant into moving the capital to Memphis, but that's the history buff in me talking. I wouldn't mind reading more stories that take place in this world. This really is an incredible read. You fall in love with the characters and the story takes you to another world you wish you could jump in through the pages. In the beginning of the novel, the pair are concerned about a secret organization called the Red Hand, as well as the evil plotting of rogues Albert and Victoria; but a report has come in that the Inca empire is trying to build a rocket ship to send to the moon, so all these initial concerns are dropped and Princes Oken and Mabruke are sent to the new world.

What Wheeler does best is write lavish descriptions of opulent luxury. At every location, including in desert tents out in the Sahara desert, the princes encounter beautiful and rich scenes - tasty and elaborate feasts, wonderous architecture, priceless furniture, amazing clothes, heady scents, the finest wines, glittering jewels, etc. The people who live in these places are healthy, strong and beautiful, with restrained manners and tastefully knowing their places. A movie directory would need a giant budget to film all the ornate locations described here. Another nice part of the novel is Wheeler's description of the flying Quetzals of the Inca empire.

Wouldn't the Incas call their air ships condors? Quetzals are only found in central America, which is the location of the Mayan empire. I have loved flying airships ever since I read A Princess of Mars back in my high school days. Wheeler envisions huge craft levitated by the lighter-than-air gas Tlalocene in huge balloons of caoutchouc. Human crews pedal to provide propulsion, and talking macaws and albatrosses guide the ship. Only the Incas have flying aircraft, for some reason the Egyptians can't figure how to build their own we are told that the Egyptian empire leases all of its aircraft from the Inca empire.

Unfortunately, when it comes to such key elements as plot and characterization, Three Princes falls flat. They are handsome, smart, generous, young and full of good humor. Mabruke exudes so much charisma that hunting dogs pursuing him will suddenly roll over and ask for belly rubs.

Lord Oken has a eidetic memory - he can recall in perfect detail any document or sight that he has ever looked at. Viracocha is a gigantic man, but none of it is fat - he is a paragon of human form - muscular, powerful and physically beautiful. Naturally, the most gorgeous women all desire to be with our heroes.

Even more disappointing, these princes act exactly like men from our 21st century. They are against slavery, believe in premarital sex, the equality of women, and that the lower class people are just as noble as their own aristocratic position. There is a ridiculous chapter where the princes loudly praise an Incan cook named Mama Kusay. The cook is embarrassed that these nobles come into her kitchen at treat her as another member of the royalty.

Indeed, for the rest of the book we are subjected mentions of the glorious foods of Mama Kusay - it is so numerous that it appears to be a product-placement stunt, as if there really is a Mama Kusay's somewhere in Peru and Ramona Wheeler got paid for every time she mentioned it. These princes are supposed to be from cultures that are dramatically different than our own, yet they think and act exactly like us. Both the Egyptian empire and Incas had slavery - when did these opinions change? The Egyptian royalty considered themselves gods on earth, they would never have treated common mortals as equals, which is why they were always inbreeding - only their own royal family members were divine enough to marry.

The bad guys are cartoon villains. While the Princes are perfect, the antagonists are evil and jealous and petty. Pachacuti, Viracocha's older brother and designated Inheritor of the Inca throne, acts without planning, without reason, without believability. Suppose the rockets are successful and Memphis is obliterated - then what? Does the Inca empire invade the old world? Already the Inca empire as sole mastery of skies, if Pachacuti really wanted to destroy the Egyptian capitol, he could fill up a fleet of airships with powerful explosives and attack with impunity.

There is no need to build rockets. This leads to other failing in this novel - the plot. The deeds of Bismark make no sense. For reasons unexplained, he wishes to overthrow the Egyptian empire. He is working for Victoria and Albert, but their motivations are equally obscure. Why travel to the Inca empire to build rockets? The Incas don't have metallurgy, they don't have intricate components, they don't have knowledge of liquid fuels or precision engineering.

It would take an enormous team of scientists and engineers to invent the science of intercontinental ballistic missiles - but why would Bismark go through all that expense and effort? In fact, I can guarantee it will. Read my full review here: View all 4 comments.


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Dec 02, Bibliotropic rated it liked it Shelves: Three Princes gets points on creativity for the alternate history and the rough planning of several centuries of civilization and development, and for research done on cultures less commonly seen in speculative fiction, as well as the expression of some very interesting protagonists on an interesting quest with plenty of potential for expansion. Points taken off, however, for the meandering plot, weak villains, and pointless end-of-the- Full review here: Points taken off, however, for the meandering plot, weak villains, and pointless end-of-the-book hookups.

Jan 02, Justin rated it it was ok Shelves: Too much setting, not enough everything else. Oct 28, Jacqie rated it liked it. I received a galley of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This book reads a bit like an old-fashioned adventure novel. It's set in a complex alternate history, in which Christianity never took off and in which Egypt is still the center of the civilized world.

The Three Princes are an English one named Scott Oken, from the colony up in the chilly north, an Egyptian one from the heart of the empire, and an Incan prince from the new world empire that the first two go to visit I received a galley of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. The Three Princes are an English one named Scott Oken, from the colony up in the chilly north, an Egyptian one from the heart of the empire, and an Incan prince from the new world empire that the first two go to visit in a fabulous Incan airship.

The book reads a lot like a travelogue. Everywhere the main characters go, they are surrounded by the exotic and the sumptuous. They lounge in desert tents with the finest coffee and rich carpets, they wander the Egyptian palace with its imposing architecture and its beautiful yet accessible queen, and they fly in an Incan airship painted like an exotic bird, with beautiful and scantily clad handmaidens at their beck and call. It feels very much like an idealization of how it might have been for a scion of the mighty British empire to travel in the nineteenth century, only in an alternate universe.

There's a lot of description, which was sort of fun, but after a while I felt that I was longing for an escape from all the richness described above. The adventure the princes get into is very top-down. They are extremely privileged people, and the lot of servants or the less fortunate is never questioned. The princes make friends with a cook, but it feels almost cartoonish. They also have uncanny powers of observation. One prince, an expert in perfumes and poison, can tell that an Incan servant has a poisonous rouge on her nipples from across the room, even though he has never been exposed to the New World pharmocopeia before.

The only people not to like the princes are the bad guys, who are unremittingly bad. If you like your good and bad guys clear-cut, the privilege of power unquestioned, and want to read about a fabulous alternate world filled with beauty and adventure, this is for you.

While the setting was colorful and thoroughly thought out, the lack of complexity or thoughts as to the underpinnings of the world kept me from truly sinking into it. Sep 15, Travis Starnes rated it it was ok.

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And that is the big thing this book gets right. Add to that the fact that in the story the Incans also remain and are the Egyptians main adversary and I am totally on board. While the alternate history lover in me has serious issues with th This is a book I really wanted to like. While the alternate history lover in me has serious issues with the leaps she took in getting Egypt to where it is in the story I was able to look over that. And Wheeler is able to make the descriptions really come alive and jump off the page.


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  • The aesthetic of this book is simply hard to beat. The story itself is just flat out boring. I had little interest in the events as the played out and the actual plot is convoluted and all over the place. While I loved Wheelers descriptions of the world it feels like she got just too much into that aspect and the rest of it feels more like a vehicle for her to describe this world she created. Everything outside of the descriptive text seems like an afterthought.

    The other issue beyond the overly dull and meandering plot is the characters. They are either unrepentantly bad or just too good at what they do to be interesting. At no point did I actually care for any of the characters or care what happens to them. Ramona Wheeler bring a different niche to the whole Steampunk genre with "Three Princes".

    A fascinating look at a possible history where the Egyptians of Pharaoh and Cleopatra still dominate the world. But its not only Egypt that has survived and flourished the Incas and the Mayas have also become world powers. Steampunk in a non Euro-centric story. The cultural clash is very much worth reading and to find that even in that setting we still see the same issues just transferred to these civilizat Ramona Wheeler bring a different niche to the whole Steampunk genre with "Three Princes".

    The cultural clash is very much worth reading and to find that even in that setting we still see the same issues just transferred to these civilizations. That is all the good, I don't really have bad more like a feeling the book felt longer than it should have been. Pacing, is mostly to blame but it will not overpower the feeling that you are reading something out of the typical.

    What I do feel lacking is a good bad guy a real evil power or crazy. I don't know it might be my own Euro-Centric upbringing that doesn't let me see Victoria and Albert or Otto von Bismarck, as truly competing with Darth's pinky over true villainy. Who should read this book: Lovers of alternate history, even history buffs might get a true kick at seeing things from a different perspective. Steampunk lovers will find lots of things that remind them of that genre and enjoy it. Espionage and Mystery lovers will find enough to keep them reading and enjoying it through out. All in all I wish Goodreads allowed half stars to give the book a 3.

    Feb 18, Fantasy Literature rated it liked it. Ramona Wheeler came up with a great setting premise for her novel Three Princes: Now, from their center in Memphis, Egypt rules an enormous swath of land across Africa, Europe, and Asia, though not all are happy with said rule, especially a resistance group led by Otto von Bismarck.

    Meanwhile, across the Atlantic, the Incans rule most of that area, which they crisscross in their Quetzal airships, the secret of which Ramona Wheeler came up with a great setting premise for her novel Three Princes: Meanwhile, across the Atlantic, the Incans rule most of that area, which they crisscross in their Quetzal airships, the secret of which they closely guard. Unfortunately, though Wheeler flashes some moments, the Feb 02, Dee marked it as did-not-finish Shelves: Alas, does not live up to the sprightly promise of the premise. Setting it aside after about 60 pages.

    The world is delivered with lots of rich detail and description, which slows things down, but my biggest problem was that it didn't flow well for me, often being circuitous and repetitive. When the action did happen, it seemed strangely distant. I did really like the premise, and found it more interesting and believable than a lot of alt-history "what if Rome never fell" is a difficult one to Alas, does not live up to the sprightly promise of the premise. I did really like the premise, and found it more interesting and believable than a lot of alt-history "what if Rome never fell" is a difficult one to wrangle out of history; "what if Rome and Egypt merged and ameliorated each others' faults" is more doable, for my money.

    I was looking forward to seeing an Incan empire that didn't get scuttled just as it was hitting its stride.

    Three Princes

    But I'm just not enjoying reading this. Jan 12, Tandie marked it as to-read Shelves: Am I the only one who immediately heard the Spin Doctors singing in their head upon reading the title? One, two princes kneel before you That what I said now Princes, princes who adore you Just go ahead now One has diamonds in his pockets That's some bread, now This one said he wants to buy you rockets Ain't in his head, now I know, I know, it's THREE princes, not two.

    This is just how my brain works! Jul 03, Samantha rated it did not like it. With a rival empire slowly encroaching, the two men face conspiracies, intrigues, and adventures they never dreamed of as they try to support their own Empire. Apr 13, Robert rated it did not like it Shelves: As an alternate history, it's a complete mess. And as a general story, well, the two main protagonists never actually did anything.

    Apr 20, Megan rated it liked it. I definitely know way too much about history to find this alternate universe truly enjoyable, and I really wish the protag wasn't a horny cis het white dude.

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    Apr 18, Mark rated it liked it. I must say that I do like a good alternate history. They seem to encapsulate the epitome of the what-if extrapolation, following through on ideas to often original ends. Here the idea is that unlike our world Caesar and Cleopatra survived, creating a Empire-dynasty that has continued through to the year of Our Lord Julius Caesar.

    In the age of the Egyptian Empire, Memphis, Egypt is recognised by many as the capital city of the world, the lat I must say that I do like a good alternate history. Europe is rather more side-lined in this world than in ours. There are terrorist plots aplenty, determined to create their own World Order and bring down the Egyptian regime.

    These are often originated from Victoria and Albert and their agent, the terrorist Count Otto von Bismarck. Our tale is told mainly by following Lord Scott Oken, fourth son of the Spate Arch of Mercia in the Britannic Isles and one of the great descendants of the Caesar line. Often working as an ambassador for the Egyptians, Scott is also a secret agent for the Egyptian Queen. His ability as a memoryman, a person who can record things by memory and retain them, means that he is often called upon to note key events. His mentor, Professor-Prince Mikel Mabruke, and Oken are given the task of uncovering an international conspiracy, seemingly being organised by Bismarck.

    Their tale goes from Memphis to Europe to the New World. It is here that we meet the third prince of the title, Prince Viracocha of the Incan Tawantinsuyu. In South America the Incas have a rival empire to the Egyptians and one that is on the verge of a technological revolution — they are about to send a spaceship, Jules Verne style, to the Moon.

    Mabruke and Oken are given the task of determining whether this space rocket is viable and, if so, establishing links between Egypt and the Incas. As you might gather from such a summary, Three Princes is engagingly cinematic.

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    This is a book that takes you on a journey, as the cover to this book elegantly shows. The mixture of different empires gives this story a feeling of variety and diversity. The world building is just wonderful, giving a feeling of both old and new in a pleasingly baroque setting. By contrast, the Incan Empire is both scarily barbaric, with blood sacrifices and the like, combined with technical marvels — Quetzal airships which travel across the Atlantic seemingly by pedal power!

    The characterisation is quite interesting too. Though the lead characters are male, in Egypt it appears to be that the Queen does much of the diplomatic organisation — it is Queen Sashetah Irene who our two leads work for, after all — with Pharaoh Djoser-George being otherwise engaged. Oken comes across as some sort of handsome young James Bond type figure, bedding his way across Egypt, Europe and South America. Mabruke is rather more like an Indiana Jones-type professor but older: The role of women in the novel is also intriguing in that for most of the time they seem to be side-lined, as you might expect in a novel based in part on old-world values.

    However, what Ramona does is show that often it is the women who are the power behind the throne, so to speak, and although none of the characters are as prominent as the men, they are important and clearly going to change things in the future. My only quibbles with the novel are that some things are left hanging a little at the end and others are rather too neatly tied up. Parts of the plot happen a little too conveniently for my liking, and what appear to be major components of the plot at the beginning are, in the end, less important than you might think.

    However it must be said that, in the end, I really enjoyed this one. Three Princes is a meld of steampunk, Lawrence of Arabia, pulp detective novels, Victorian England and jungle exploration. The plot is fast-paced, the ideas throughout logical and unusual, the characters are understandable and engaging. Most of all, the book is great fun. Three Princes is an exciting romp, filled with great ideas, and developed to a reasonably satisfying conclusion. I hope that the author continues to mine this rich vein of possibilities.

    Jan 07, Angelica rated it did not like it Shelves: This one was a miss for me, though. In an alternative reality, where the Egyptian Empire flourished and went on to dominate the world by what would be our 16th century, Lord Scott Oken is a spy for the Empress against her enemies, Victoria and Albert, who want to bring the empire down. Along with his mentor Mabruke, he is sent to the New World of the Inca Empire to investigate strange h Along with his mentor Mabruke, he is sent to the New World of the Inca Empire to investigate strange happenings.

    It was a bit pointless.

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    They are basically bright lights to advertise what, in the end, is a poorly constructed, quite unoriginal, and, frankly, very boring spy story. It takes a really long time for the story to start, and it drags all the way to the end. Scott and Mik are supposed to be superspies, but they actually do nothing at all, they only watch as the story unfolds.

    The third prince, who is the one who brings the start of the action with him, only appears halfway through the book, and leaves right afterwards. The events are disconnected and there is no suspense at all.

    Mik is likable, and that is his only true asset as a spy. It should have been where all the work was truly done -- you have both steampunk and alternate history going on here -- but it was just used as a gimmick to get attention and there was no depth to it at all. There are some flying machines, but calling this book steampunk is a really big stretch.

    Overall, there is lots of decoration but very little foundation: Any engineer can tell you that you have to lay the foundations first and then build upon that, otherwise the whole thing will fall down on your head. The Incas could be considered dark-skinned, I suppose. And she hints that Mik may be gay. She misses a couple of perfect opportunities to make lesbian couples, though. This reads exactly like a James Bond novel, especially in the misogyny, hypocrisy and self-importance.

    Half World, by Hiromi Goto May 13, Vanessa rated it liked it Shelves: It's the year , but not like we would recognize. Egypt's capital Memphis is the center of civilization, its Pharaoh the lord over Europe, Africa, and much of Asia. The king loved his daughter, but he didn't want to offend her suitors and risk angering his neighboring city-states.

    The next day, he summoned the three suitors and the princess to his throne room.

    At the Three Princes

    Whoever returns with the most wondrous item will win my daughter's hand in marriage. The princess was glad for the one-year extension and the king was equally glad to postpone the matter. The three princes set out together. After traveling for one week they came to a well that was located before a fork in the road, beyond which the road branched into three separate paths.

    And so the three princes went their separate ways. When the time came to return to the well, each one followed his separate path that led back to the well. The other two were impressed and a bit worried. Said the first prince to the second, "What wondrous item did you find? From under his cloak the second prince unrolled a carpet. People who sits on it can be transported anywhere in the world they wish to go in minutes. And now it was the third prince's turn to show what he had brought. One dab of it will restore the health of anyone, no matter how sick.

    And they say if it's rubbed with true love, can even restore youth. The first prince waved his hands over the crystal ball; its cloudiness disappeared and was replaced with an image of the princess lying in her bed, still as death. Her father and the court physicians hovered over her. The three princes leapt up, alarmed. Indeed, moments later the three princes were standing in the very room they had viewed through the crystal ball only minutes before.

    Everyone was so distraught they didn't notice the three princes had suddenly appeared in the room. Without a word, the third prince stepped up to the princess' bed and with his finger touched a dab of ointment on her forehead and set the ointment by her bedstand. She blinked and seconds later opened her eyes.