A week or two ago I was asked on a social media site to post about ten books that have "stayed with me." I even blogged about it. Now that I've finished Dave Butler's City of the Saints, I may need to revise my list.
His book goes to eleven!
If you've gone to any writing conferences in Utah during the past couple of years, you've probably seen this book. With a kind of steampunky look, it's a pretty straightforward cover. With the addition of A Scientific Romance in Four Parts as a subtitle, you may think you can ascertain what the book is about.
If you don't know anything about the book, you have no idea! This book is like nothing I've ever read before. It's difficult to even explain it now that I'm done reading it.
But I'll try. The setting is pre-Civil War America. The story begins in Wyoming where several teams of spies are headed to the Kingdom of Deseret, basically Brigham Young's Mormon territory. One set of spies represent the Northern State's interests, the other set, the South. Each has a mission and everyone seems to hate the Pinkertons.
Butler uses real characters, Samuel Clemens, Edgar Allen Poe, Richard Burton, Brigham Young, Porter Rockwell, Eliza R. Snow, John D. Lee, Orson Pratt, Bill Hickman and Ann Eliza Webb. He weaves their lives with those of colorful fictional characters and creates a story that is massive in its imagination. It's part western, part James Bond, part steampunk and yes, there's a romance or two.
City of the Saints is actually a collection of four short novels combined into one volume. It's big book, but the pace of the story makes it a fast read, at least it did for me. I have several favorites in the book, but one scene I especially loved. It was the introduction of Pratt's airship as it hovered over a canyon as seen from below. I thought the description very, very cool.
There's gunfights and sabotage, affairs and mysticism, betrayal and religion (not the same thing...) and more. It is one wild ride!