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The Traders' War: A Merchant Princes Omnibus    by Charles Stross order for
Traders' War
by Charles Stross
Order:  USA  Can
Tor, 2014 (2014)
Softcover, e-Book
* *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

The Traders' War is an omnibus edition of the third and fourth episodes in Charles Stross's Merchant Princes series (The Bloodline Feud is the omnibus edition of the first two books). As well as offering constant action, via feuds between power hungry groups on the various worlds, the series examines the economics of trade between parallel worlds at different levels of development.

It all began when hi-tech reporter Miriam Beckstein uncovered a money-laundering scheme and her mother gave her an unusual locket. It took her to a medieval world, where she was embroiled in intra-familial plots. Miriam tracked down a lost branch of the Clan and found a third world, its technological development midway between the other two. She started up a new branch of the family business there, one involving technology transfer rather than drug running.

As The Traders' War opens, the Clan is intent on getting Miriam under its control. When she rebels (as usual) she manages to get herself into deep trouble, execution only temporarily delayed. The only out offered to her is to wed (and bear an heir for) the younger prince (called the Idiot after childhood poisoning left him brain damaged). At the betrothal party, his elder brother (the Pervert) slaughters his family and starts a war to ethnically cleanse all witches (world-walkers).

Miriam escapes to the new world she found, unaware of what she carries with her. Meanwhile Earth authorities have learned of the Clan's existence and mount a major operation against this 'rogue state', enlisting Mike Fleming (an old DEA boyfriend of Miriam's) in the effort. Complicating complex matters even further, young Clan members find their way to yet another world, one with very advanced technology.

Threatened on all sides, can the Clan possibly survive and, if they do, what will Miriam's new role be? We'll just have to keep on reading to find out and I'm looking forward to it!

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