This was an impulse purchase, largely because of a sudden irrational belief that the last paperback copy must mean all the others were bought because the thing was good. Plus it appeared to be very inventive. Well, there is all sorts of cute phrasing (Greenhall instead of Whitehall,) and original notions (coke powered robots.) There are two young heroes, Sally and Oliver. Sally early on is apprenticing in a brothel while Oliver is sheltered. Not to fear: Sally is properly virginal in mind as well as body, while Oliver is properly bold.
In addition to being the opposite of what their circumstances would lead you to expect, the twenty year olds are Very Special indeed. Molly inherited steampunk nanomachines while Oliver is the son of a Goddess. Curiously, the vast bulk of this vast bulk involves Sally and Oliver being constantly in grave peril, only to be rescued by the brave self sacrifice of assorted comrades glad, glad, glad to validate their Sally or their Oliver. Eventually, after five hundred pages or so, the author (finally tired?) has the hero and heroine exercise their natural talents and terminate the plot by defeating the dastardly foes. The expectedness of it all is overwhelming.
The villains by and large are caricatures of Jacobins and Communists! The martyrous assistant heroes are dukes turned pirates, penny dreadful writers (and exbombardiers,) raffish spies, counterrevolutionary emigres turned assassin and such ilk. There are incessant paeans to the noble English spirit. Is there a slight hint of irony in the fictional name of this green and pleasant land,? (To wit, "Jackals.") ((Pronounced in that mystifying English way, jakes?))
I think not. The dead hand of Sam Walton has picked my pocket again. How mortifying.