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A Calculus of Angels by Gregory Keyes

Published by Del Rey Books

Reviewed by Leigh Kimmel

A Calculus of Angels by Gregory Keyes is the second volume in The Age of Unreason, following Newton's Cannon. Two years have passed since Louis XIV ordered an asteroid brought down on London in Newton's Cannon, and Europe is in chaos. England is an utter ruin, populated by a few demented survivors. Three kings (the Duke of Orleans, the Duke of Maine and the King of Spain) claim France, and poor Adrienne struggles to survive with her young son (whose father was apparently the Sun King). In Prague Sir Isaac Newton earns his keep by promising new alchemical defenses against the Turk for the Holy Roman Emperor, who has been driven out of Vienna. However he leaves the real work of keeping the Emperor happy to his apprentice, Ben Franklin.

In the colonies, former rivals are forced into an uneasy temporary alliance for survival. Edward Teach, better known as Blackbeard the pirate, agrees to take several colonial leaders back to the Old World in an effort to find out some substantial information about the sudden cessitation of communication. With them comes Red Shoes, a Chocktaw medicine man whose view of the world provides a fascinating perspective on the Western interpretations of the strange creatures that populate the aether.

All of them are steadily drawn together for the final battle over Venice. However, there are more menacing hints, that at least one party among the strange "angels" of the aether may well intend the extermination of all humanity and are perfectly happy to use humans as tools and dupes to accomplish that end. At least some of the aethereal beings seem to be opposed to this pogrom, but from their actions it is not entirely clear that their interests and those of humanity really coincide.

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The Age of Unreason trilogy concludes in Empire of Unreason.

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Review posted July 20, 1999

Updated December 28, 2000.

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