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Wicked Gentlemen
By Ginn Hale

Discussed December 2008

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Main Characters:

Belimai Sykes — Prodigal; tortured by the Inquisition (made to "confess") and then addicted to the drug ophorium; a private investigator of sorts; a hustler of sorts.

Captain William Harper — priest/Inquisitor/police captain; torn between his loyalty to the system and the corruption and injustices he sees in it.

Stories:

"Mr. Sykes and the Firefly" — Captain Harper asks Belimai Sykes to help him find his kidnapped sister (a woman known for her Prodigal sympathies). She disappeared after a series of Prodigals have been murdered and mutilated.

"Captain Harper and the Sixty-second Circle" — Captain Harper is heading for a vacation at the family estate. His trip is interrupted by the mysterious death of the daughter of a wealthy and prominent citizen. The powers-that-be are seeking Sykes as the suspect; and Harper senses a cover-up.

Questions:

  1. The stories are a mix of fantasy and mystery/thriller and steampunk. How well does the author combine these genres?
  2. This is clearly a work of Fantasy rather than historical fantasy or alternate history. (Where is Crowncross, the Holy Capital?) Despite that, how well does the author evoke (re-create?) the feel of Victorian London?
  3. The book consists of two linked novelettes or novellas. "Mr. Sykes and the Firefly" is told in first person from the viewpoint of Belimai Sykes. "Captain Harper and the Sixty-second Circle" is told in third person from the viewpoint of Capt. Harper. And the Epilogue returns to first person narrative by Sykes. Did this affect your enjoyment of the story? If so, how?
  4. What do you think of Hale's mythology (the origin of the Prodigals, their powers, their social position, etc.)?
  5. What do you think about the way the author portrayed the characters of Sykes and Harper — their quirks, their personalities, etc.?
  6. What do you think about the way the author depicted the developing relationship between Sykes and Harper?
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