Ah Stross... Awesomeness once more. The author steps away from hard sci-fi to present a parallel-universe world walking thriller that centres on Miriam Beckstein, journalist, who first discovers that she can cross over from one world to the other and then finds out that she is a long-lost member of one of the ruling families in a society stuck in the Middle Ages.
Miriam has to adapt and learn fast to stay alive - there are factions within the ruling class that would much rather see her dead. This first book in the series shows her progression from the initial culture shock to her determination to change the way this world works.
I liked this book. The characters were very well developed and the story moved at a brisk pace. If I had one small problem with this novel it was how easily Miriam adapts to this new world, how calmly she views her options, and how resolutely she decides to stay the course. I couldn't identify with her because she was never scared enough
, never out of options. She was in danger plenty, and those scenes were handled very well, but I had a hard time believing that a normal journalist would be able to disarm a bomb by stapling the trigger wire to the door frame!
On the other hand, once you accept that Miriam can do no wrong, she becomes fairly cool. She's an excellent female protagonist, only slightly mary-sue-ish and very very likeable. I think she'd be great to have a beer with.
I'm definitely buying the next one!