A Calculus of Angels

Posted by : atcampbell | On : October 17, 2000

A Calculus of Angels by J. Gregory Keyes

The discussion of A Calculus of Angels drew a crowd of eight people. This book continues the story begun in Newton’s Cannon, which we discussed last year. In this alternate historical science fantasy, young Benjamin Franklin has become the apprentice of Sir Isaac Newton. Newton and other scientists have made some powerful scientific discoveries that yielded powerful weapons of war, which are being used to destroy great European cities. Mysterious angels have manifested themselves on Earth as advisors to powerful rulers. And then Peter the Great and some French musketeers get involved in the story.

We found this to be a rousing adventure yarn. Benjamin Franklin makes for a great hero, and we appreciated his romantic adventures and clever escapes from diabolic enemies. When a delegation from America arrives that includes the pirate Blackbeard and a powerful Choctaw shaman, the action gets even more exciting. We get to witness Brits who’ve reverted to cannibalism after the fall of London, nautical battles in the Straits of Gibraltar, and wild chases through the streets and rivers of Prague. And then there are the two French women who develop unearthly powers…

About the only criticism we had is that this book can’t be read by itself. It’s really book two of a story to be told in four parts, and the reader must have read Newton’s Cannon to understand and appreciate what’s going on here.

This is a rich book that’s hard to describe fully, but suffice it to say that we recommend it and plan to read the next book by J. Gregory Keyes.

— A. T. Campbell, III