The Rise of the Automated Aristocrats by Mark Hodder

A triumphant ending to the series
The Rise of the Automated Aristocrats book cover

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This is the fourth book in the Burton and Swinburne series of books by Mark Hodder. Following the adventures of The Return of the Discontinued Man. The protagonist duo returns (somehow!) to past events in their lives and a different iteration of a steampunk England. Sir Richard Burton (explorer and geographer) and Algernon Swinburne (poet), alongside Inspector Trounce, face a new challenge amongst a battle between the Upper and Middle classes.

This story holds everything you would want from another steampunk classic: time travel, prisoner of war camps and a clockwork gentry.

For those existing fans of the series this is a great addition and a great next step for the duo which allows them to have further adventures in another version of 19th Century England. I did struggle with some of the concepts and plot devices that set the story up for a further adventure at the outset but I reconciled with this once the Automated Aristocrats plot gets going.

The story builds upon everything that has gone before in the series and, although the story could be a standalone, a knowledge of some of their other adventures is helpful.

The book carries on with the previous mix of historical fact and steampunk fantasy – it incorporates further combinations of historical figures and events to create a thrilling plot and high stakes for Burton and Swinburne unless they can stop the Automated Aristocrats and the people behind their creation and development. 

This book provides a triumphant ending to the series. I remain hopeful that we will see the adventures of the unlikely heroes again in some form or another.

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