By Mark Hodder
PYR, $16.00, 397 pages
The third book in the Burton & Swinburne series, Burton & Swinburne in Expedition to the Mountains of the Moon, follows Sir Richard Burton and his assistant Algernon Swinburne as they search Africa for the three Eyes of Naga, mysterious diamonds said to hold great power. Along the way Burton is thrown into an alternate reality where everything he knows to be true has been turned on its head. The finale comes when Burton must face his nemesis both in Africa in 1914, and London in 1840. By blending historical facts and figures, with fantasy Hodder creates stories that are believable and fun. And although this story is based in imagination, Hodder’s writing creates an alternate history that could just as well be fact. As soon as the cover is opened, this story will suck you in until the last page has turned; and the characters become like old friends, every conversation like catching up.
The only downside to Burton & Swinburne in Expedition to the Mountains of the Moon is the time travel element. By writing a story that takes place in two separate realities, confusion tends to abound. The text doesn’t distinguish between which reality is happening, so without obvious clues, the reader can sometimes become lost. It is never long before things become clear again though, and the story carries along. This isn’t just a book for steampunk enthusiasts, though they will certainly enjoy this work, but it will also entertain anyone interested in a pair of characters as fun as Sherlock and Watson.
Reviewed by Andrew Keyser