This “extraordinary alternate-history fantasy,” set in an industrial London riven by class conflict and transformed by magic, is a steampunk classic (Booklist).
The discovery of aether changed everything; magic mined from the ground, it ushered in an Industrial Age seemingly overnight, deposing kings and rulers as power was transferred to the almighty guilds. Soon, England’s people were separated into two distinct classes: those who dug up and were often poisoned by the miraculous substance, and those who profited from it. Robert Borrows has always wanted more than the life of poverty and backbreaking toil into which he was born. During a visit with his mother to an isolated local manor, he discovers Annalise, the beautiful and mysterious changeling whom aether has magically remolded into something more than human. Years later, their paths will cross again in the filthy, soot-stained streets of London, where Robert preaches revolution while Annalise enjoys the privileges afforded to the upper class—the same social stratum that Robert is trying to overthrow. But even as they stand on opposite sides of the great struggle that divides their world, they are united by a shocking secret from their childhood. And their destinies will be forever entwined when their world falls to ruin.
A finalist for the World Fantasy Award, The Light Ages “brings a Dickensian life to the pounding factories of London” (The Denver Post) and “should hold great appeal to readers who love the more sophisticated fantasy of Michael Swanwick, John Crowley or even China Miéville” (Publishers Weekly).
The Light Ages continues with The House of Storms, set one century later.