The Family Trade by Charles Stross



The Family Trade (Merchant Princes) The Family TradeCharles Stross; Tor Fantasy 2005WorldCatMany little girls dream of discovering they are a princess. Some mistake was made when they were born, and their real life is in a castle. Thus the success of movies like The Princess Diaries. But being a princess isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Ask Miriam Beckstein. When she is 32, she discovers she really is a princess. Her mother was found injured and died while she was an infant. She was adopted and loved all her life, with no interest in her “real” family.

But a strange chain of events leads her to the truth of her family. First she and a coworker at their high-tech reporting newspaper are fired when they uncover a money laundering story. They realize too late that their newspaper is owned by one of the companies they found. Then her mother gives her a locket found on her birth mother. That locket leads Miriam to her blood family. She is a princess from a rich royal trading family. She is also a pawn in the politics and money game. With her reappearance, there are members of her extended who would be very happy if she were dead.

What is stranger, her real family lives in an alternate Earth and can travel easily between the two. That is how they have made their money. As a true blood member of the Clan, she is entitled to riches she can’t imagine. There are family members who will now lose their shares to her. There are others who would see her make a politically correct marriage. Meanwhile, Miriam has grown to be an independent, strong woman. She is having real problems adjusting to her new circumstances.

First, I get frustrated when we have a series of books where nothing is solved in the first book (fortunately, the first time I read The Lord of the Rings, it was all three at once). This is one of those books. There isn’t even some minor solutions that lead to the overall conclusion. Everything is pretty much left hanging.

Otherwise, I enjoyed The Family Trade. Miriam is realistic as she is thrown into a strange, backwards world. The characters in her real family don’t come off the page. Her adoptive mother comes close – a woman in a wheelchair suffering from multiple sclerosis. The description of the other Earth and the centuries old society strikes real chords – it probably was like that. I’m spoiled by my modern conveniences, thank you.

Yes, I will look for the next novel. I’ll want to know what happens to Miriam and her big plans to bring the Clan up to modern day Earth. It won’t be easy. This is fun reading.

Notice: Suggestive dialogue or situations

More books by Charles Stross

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