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The Incrementalists    by Steven Brust & Skyler White order for
by Steven Brust
Order:  USA  Can
Tor, 2013 (2013)
Hardcover, e-Book
* *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Steven Brust, well known for his long running Dragaeran series (I've been an enthusiastic fan for decades) now teams up with Skyler White for something very different. The Incrementalists is a tale of infighting amongst members of a secret society, whose two hundred members carry unbroken memories that go back forty thousand years.

They're not immortals though - when one dies, they pick a new member and pass on the memories of many lives that had been held by the lost one. Old and new personalities battle it out. What is the Incrementalists' purpose? They constantly meddle in human affairs, intending to do good of course, but constantly disagreeing amongst themselves about the best way to achieve their goals.

As the story opens in Las Vegas, Celeste has inexplicably killed herself and a replacement is needed. Phil (who has loved Celeste over many lifetimes) and his associates nudge events to recruit Renee into their order. He tells her they 'Try to make the world a little better.' She signs on the dotted line and is given Celeste's stub ... which is where all goes awry.

As the story alternates between Phil's and Renee's points of view, readers learn that Celeste had meddled with other Incrementalists - what was her goal? When they discover that Renee does not have all of Celeste's memories, in fact she often does not remember her at all, they disagree on how to proceed. Irina wants to kill Ren and start over. Phil take a big chance for love, and bets all he has on one throw of the dice.

What was Celeste up to and how is it all resolved? Read The Incrementalists and you'll find out. I found it reminiscent of Roger Zelazny's Amber series, but felt the storyline stretched too far for the amount of plot. Still, it's a fascinating premise, and I'd love to read more, hope this is the beginning of a series.

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