Manual The Kingdom of Ohio

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The author made it feel familiar and foreign all at the same time. I look forward to seeing the second effort. Sep 21, Neil rated it it was ok. First time author Flaming does a good job of creating a nice atmosphere for a ripping speculative historical tale.

He's got the ambience of period New York City, some spooky early subway tunnels under construction, and interesting historical secondary characters in Nikolai Tesla, Thomas Edison, and J. He's got a nice tall tale about a kingdom within the early United States, centering around Toledo of all places. He actually had me looking to see if there was any truth in his story abo First time author Flaming does a good job of creating a nice atmosphere for a ripping speculative historical tale.

He actually had me looking to see if there was any truth in his story about the Latoledan family. Unfortunately, he's much better at creating ambience than delivering his story. The plot is slight; the lead characters are vague and flat. What there is of the plot is predictable and in the end the secondary characters are underused.

In particular, I was bothered by the weird insertion of a reference to the Roanoke Island settlers that came out of the blue in the last thirty pages. It could have been interesting in a more developed plot, but coming where it did it was just a distraction. View all 4 comments. Mar 22, Kt. This book was SO disappointing! I actually couldn't wait to read this book and bought it in hardcover. The premise was ambitious to say the least and the author was just not up to the task. If you read this, be prepared to read things like, "She shrugged mentally" a lot.

Sentence fragments abound in this book. The characters are dull, two dimensional, and irritating. Mostly the book is just plain boring. For example, there is a scene where the main characters are in the subway tunnels under NYC This book was SO disappointing! For example, there is a scene where the main characters are in the subway tunnels under NYC at the turn of the century when they were just being excavated.

The characters, two star crossed lovers, were looking for a time traveling portal never clear to me why it would be there , and were down to five matches for light when there was an explosion. How poor a writer would you have to be to lose a reader under those circumstances?

He gets two stars for coming up with an interesting idea for a novel. Too bad he couldn't write it. View all 3 comments. Apr 26, A. There isn't an option to give half stars, but if there was, Matthew Flaming's lol, what a name: Flaming, Matt novel The Kingdom of Ohio would receive 2. I guess I'm feeling particularly generous today and have rounded up instead of down.

Like the actual last King of Ohio in the book, Louis Toledo, Flaming has grand ideas and tries to do a lot of things in his novel. However that is the ultimate failing of the book: And while it was cool to see those things being attempted, it was not interesting enough for me not to be able to put it down. A good book would make me try to forsake sleep to read it, but I kept getting up to do things while I read this.

Anyway, the book's narrative is predictable. I knew who the narrator was from the beginning, I just didn't know how the reveal would happen. There he gets work as part of the crew building the NYC subway line. He soon gets promoted to a mechanic's position, though he has no formal training. One day he meets a ragged-looking young woman named Cheri-Anne Toledo, and she tells him the most unbelievable story.

She says that she traveled through time accidentally when she used a teleportation machine she was building with Nicola Tesla and it exploded. She claimed that she was proclaimed dead seven years ago, and that there used to be a sovereign nation in the midwest called the Kingdom of Ohio, of which she was the princess. Peter finds much of her story difficult to believe.

She tries to visit Nicola Tesla but finds he does not remember her, causing her to be arrested. Peter puts it out of his mind until a man comes to his door and asks that he bring Cheri-Anne to visit J. It is there that Peter starts to believe Cheri-Anne, as fragments of his own life start to make sense. A large part of the story is devoted to philosophical ideas like that of memory, and I was not surprised when I turned the book jacket over and saw that Mr. Flaming was a philosophy major. It also had a lot to do with major rivalries and figures of the time, namely the Edison versus Tesla fight over AC vs DC that lasted for years, and Edison's partnership with Morgan, and how it differed from Tesla's relinquishing of rights to Westinghouse.

It also highlighted Morgan's immense ego. One issue I had was the footnotes in the book. It's cute to have fake references, but these take up like half the page, and continue on for more than one page sometimes. It gets irritating to read after a while. Another issue was the lack of characterization. I liked knowing some of Cheri-Anne's and Ptere's backgrounds, as well as a bit about Tesla and Edison's rivalries, but I felt like I couldn't really connect to the characters the way I wanted to. I really wanted to know more about how Edison felt being a yes-man to Morgan.

Overall, I'd say read it if the premise sounds interesting to you. It's not the worst book ever, even if it does have a few flaws. Sep 04, K.

Lincoln rated it liked it. And I did a report on the Toledo War in high school. So the whole thing about the french aristocrat who came to Ohio and started his own kingdom made a vague kind of sense to me in the way that good alternate history can. And that's what this book is: Oh, the blurb is all like: Peter and Cheri-Anne could be the same character for all the difference I felt in them, and for all the meaning they had in the story. There were used but as a focal lens to go here and there in this New York the author obviously loves, so he could give us more and more details of the time and the place.

The story itself boils down to: Boy comes to New York to dig subway. Girl says she knows Tesla. Boy and Girl blow up a part of the subway. What makes this story enjoyable, and ultimately drags it down, is the details of time, place, factoids about Edison and Tesla, and the oddly believable story of the Kingdom of Ohio from whence Cheri-Ann came.

These details are fascinating, but in the end, make this book more of a history tome than a story.

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In some ways it reminded me of Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell by Susanna Clark, but without the overarching story that pulls the reader along the history-laden world. Rather, Kingdom of Ohio is a historic mine one has to dig through to find the story. History buffs will love this. People who want to immerse themselves in a New York of another time will like this.

However, people looking for a rousing plot or strong characters will probably not enjoy it as much. Oct 28, Nina rated it did not like it. This book had lots of potential, but almost none of it was fulfilled. I wanted to like it, and I spent about three months trying to get through it, trying to approach it with new eyes each time. Despite this, the plot still felt loosely constructed and clumsily executed, the characters were somehow both forgettable and overdone at the same time, and it seemed the author only really enjoyed writing a few isolated parts of the story: All of those small sections were well done, but I couldn't shake the impression that while the author was trying to write a cast of characters the reader is supposed to care about, he paid as little attention to developing them as he would to developing a piece of lint on their sweaters.

Because of this cold treatment, the story, which is character and relationship driven, never seems to go anywhere. Jul 10, Cornelia rated it it was amazing. This fabulous, creative and heartwarming time travel is an intriguing, mysterious, and intimate read. Realistic fantasy, with deep, fleshed out characters. It may not be some people's idea of Steampunk but to me it is the very essence of the genre.

Sep 02, Emily Park rated it it was amazing. This is a difficult book to summarize or categorize. The story is also set in Los Angeles, probably in the s, where the narrator lives. Peter Force is a young man who has moved from the wilds of northern Idaho Kellogg, ID, if you must know to NYC to be a construction worker on the new underground railroad system. One evening Peter encounters a dis http: One evening Peter encounters a distressed young woman, who claims to be Cheri-Anne Toledo, the daughter of the king of Ohio.

She claims to have survived the assassination of her family, and was suddenly transported through space and time from Toledo to New York. Claiming to be a student of famed inventor Nikola Tesla, Cheri-Anne attributes her travel to her work on a teleportation device. However, after going to visit Tesla, she finds that he has no idea who she is, suggesting that not only did she travel through space and time, but that she also traveled between parallel universes.

Morgan, all of whom are using the subway construction project to search for something hidden below the ground. The outcome of their struggle could change all of history and time. The plot of this book is slow. It's definitely not for someone who likes an action-packed, fast-paced thriller. A great deal of the novel is taken up by dialogue, or internal musings by the characters.

It's really the setting and the premise of the book that makes it interesting. One of the most important things to consider about this book is that it is an alternate history novel, so a great deal of the historical facts presented in the book are actually false despite the author's convincing historical "footnotes". I'm not actually sure how many different versions of history are presented in the novel From hints given throughout the novel, I am inclined to guess that there are at least two separate parallel universes, with neither of them being set in "real" history.

The uncertainty of the setting, and the characters' own self-doubt about their own sanity and recollection, makes the nature of history and memory the primary theme of the novel. Flaming's writing style is engaging and thought-provoking, which is helpful since the plot itself doesn't necessarily always pull the reader in. It's hard to pin down this book's genre. Other reviews have dubbed it a steam punk, though I would disagree with that classification.

It's not really focused on Victorian culture, and there isn't really any anachronistic technology, and the technology that does exist is not steam-powered, but is electric Edison and Tesla, natch. It certainly has some elements of science fiction, and maybe some hints of fantasy at the very end, but I would say that if you exclude the alternate-history part, this book is first and foremost a meditation on the lines between memory and history, and secondly a romance between Peter and Cheri-Anne, with Tesla, Edison and Morgan as part of the backdrop to their story.

Sorry, Don't Bother with The Kingdom of Ohio - Slog - The Stranger

In terms of characterization, this isn't a character-driven plot. Peter is probably the most fleshed-out character, probably because he's the one telling the story. Peter's fairly short acquaintance with Cheri-Anne means that we don't really get much of her backstory. Because the story is told as Peter is remembering it many decades later, Cheri-Anne seems to be described in ideals, and therefore comes across as being a little flat and boring to the reader.

Tesla, Edison and Morgan are all interesting and intriguing, but none of them gets enough page time to become fully fleshed out. It probably also doesn't help that all three are historically significant, so just seeing their names on the page gives them a sort of larger-than-life feeling. I am not sure that characters were necessarily meant to be the primary focus of the book. About halfway through the book, I noticed that pages would go by before anyone was referred to by name.


For the most part, the entire story of Peter and Cheri-Anne is told only using "he" and "she". Flaming really only names people when there are multiple men in a scene and using "he" would be unclear. Aside from Cheri-Anne, there are no other female characters who appear for more than a page or so. I actually had to go hunting through the book for her name, because when I started this review I couldn't remember how to spell it. My one complaint is that towards the end of the book, we're presented with something of a deus ex machina.

Something important is presented, making a really random connection to a completely different part of history, with basically no warning. This is where the very mild hints of fantasy come in, though no other part of the book had hinted at fantasy. The ending is also very open-ended, which isn't really my thing, but in this case it sort of works. Because I was a little baffled by the sudden appearance of this mystery thing, I might have preferred a more concrete ending, but I can see why Flaming chose to end it this way instead.

In short, this is a book that will appeal to a very specific audience. I think that either you'll really enjoy it, as I did, or you'll be bored out of your skull.

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If you enjoyed Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell, then I think this book would be right up your alley. Aug 10, Caitlin rated it did not like it Shelves: Peter Force relocates to New York City at the turn of the century and takes a job helping to drill the first subway tunnels. A poor newcomer to the city, Peter finds a room in a flophouse and befriends his fellow workers, but the city only really seems to come alive for him when a chance encounter introduces him to Cheri-Anne Toledo, a woman who believes she has traveled seven years into the future.

Cheri-Anne is the last of the House of Toledo, a small independent kingdom that few know has exis Peter Force relocates to New York City at the turn of the century and takes a job helping to drill the first subway tunnels. Cheri-Anne is the last of the House of Toledo, a small independent kingdom that few know has existed in the center of Ohio since before the Revolutionary War.

She insists that she and eccentric inventor Nikola Tesla were working on a time-travel device and that an attack on her home caused the machine to activate and catapult her to a future New York City. My first issue with the book comes from what I would call wasted potential.

While the title of the book may be The Kingdom of Ohio, the kingdom itself plays a bit part. I would have gladly read an entire novel on the struggle to found the Kingdom of Ohio, the secret royal family that existed within the United States, the mechanations of the government to take control of the tiny rebellious state. I still have no idea! But it hardly matters because the story of the Kingdom is buried and told without personality or character. Speaking of character, there were two in this book with great potential about whom I would have gladly read an entire novel: But these colorful characters in American history seem merely props in a time travel romance.

Morgan, the subway, the Brooklyn Bridge—why was the focus on a romance between two watery nobodies and a time travel device clumsily laid over more interesting material? My other minor problem was that the book happens to be framed by one of my greatest pet peeves—a narrator who writes about writing the book we now read. I just hate this. In rare cases, it can be done well, but more often than not the effect is to pull me out of the story and disconnect me from the narrative. I recognize this voice of the fictional narrator as the voice of our author as well.

It only served to disconnect me from an already scattered story with too many potential directions. Read more of my reviews at yearofmagicalreading. Feb 26, switterbug Betsey rated it liked it.

The Kingdom of Ohio

This is an unusual genre-buster of a book. At the outset, it is historical fiction-- the story of a subway worker, Peter Force, who is hired to help dig the first transit tunnels in Manhattan, circa Interspersed with Peter's story is a fable about a pioneer family from France that ruled their own "Free Estate" in Ohio during the latter part of the eighteenth century. For almost a century, the rulers enjoy a pastoral and aristocratic life.

The story soon proceeds into speculative fiction, as elements of time travel are introduced. A beautiful and mysterious woman named Cheri-Ann Toledo, descendant of the Ohio kingdom family, sharply enters the narrative and upsets Peter's life. A frayed polymath, she claims to be a time-traveler, and is targeted by both the police and the scientific community.

Additionally, the battle between Nikola Tesla, the trenchant inventor of alternating current electricity, and Thomas Edison, with his backing by financier J. Morgan , is a parable and a fuse for the chasms between realms of reality and the riddle of time. Cheri-Ann and Peter are ensnared at the center of the enigma. The narrator of this tale is an elderly owner of an antiques store who currently lives in Los Angeles. He finds an old but familiar photograph during one of his business-related treasure hunts, which leads him to a life-changing decision and the unfolding of this story. As we follow him to his final destination, he braids all of these elements into one epic tale.

Flaming's use of non-linear narration epitomizes the philosophies embedded in this novel--the lacunae of memories and the distance of time. However, the novel becomes a bit long-winded and cumbersome as the story progresses. He tends to declare these conceptual mysteries rather than weave them delicately into the tale. I was frequently removed from the story into the author's dialectical pondering.

It was an engrossing novel, but it was too cerebral. The story never evoked a tone; instead, it felt like a vehicle for a tract on the conundrum of existence. The flow was dry and distant and clumsy. The narrative perspective was not well controlled, either--the unnamed narrator was sometimes buried in these musings or it awkwardly shifted to Cheri-Ann's or Peter's point of view.

Despite its flaws which is evident with many debut authors , I connected with Flaming's fable of ideas. If I hadn't been smitten by his philosophy, I would have assigned a three-star rating. But within the scope of this very ambitious and blemished book was a winning and exuberant saga. If you seek a polished piece of literature, you won't be satisfied.

But you may be surprised and engaged by his recondite mind. If you enjoy themes of time-travel and want to get further into the mind of Nikola Tesla, I recommend the haunting and sensuous The Invention of Everything Else, by Samantha Hunt.

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Sep 26, Shaunesay rated it really liked it. I liked the idea, but all of the really interesting things happened in the last part, and really left everything up to your imagination. I feel like the writing is well done, the concept is intriguing, just not spaced as well as it could be? I would have been happy if this were a longer book that could have gone more in depth and earlier on to the historical aspects that got my attention. I really don't want to say more than that because I'm afraid it would spoil it for people.

Nov 11, Steve rated it really liked it. I really liked aspects of it, but it never really came together as a whole in a satisfying way. I think the idea was great as was much of the execution. Flaming's writing is especially compelling in setting up his protagonist in turn-of-the-century New York City. His descriptions of the work on subway lines, and the lives of the men building them, was the highlight for me. Unfortunately, when he introduces the sci-fi elements of the time travel, his story-telling begins to fall flat.

I can be a fan of sci-fi, especially the kind of "light" sci-fi that this book tries to pull off. Flaming's story depends on this time travel element, his descriptions of the science involved suffers two contrasting fates: In other places, the science just isn't explained enough, with the result being that we are asked to accept certain outlandish twists with not enough hard science to back them up. Flaming's treatment of the historical characters he introduces in J.

Morgan, Thomas Edison and Nikola Tesla are not at all successful. None of these characters carries with them the weight or excitement!


There was very little unique in Flaming's rendering of them. Their impact on the plot was such that they could have been substituted with fictional characters without making much difference. And too many of the main characters' interactions with them end with nothing concrete being resolved and the heroes repetitively running away to avoid a violent confrontation.

Flaming has cleverly given himself a built-in scapegoat for any flaws in his storytelling by giving us a contemporary narrator who is new to this writing thing. It allows him kind of a layman's way into the story which helps to put the reader at ease. His actions in the present day are supposed to be mysteriously tied to the story he tells of the past and are supported by sometimes interesting, but ultimately unnecessary footnotes.

I think it becomes clear fairly early on who the narrator is, though Flaming doesn't give us confirmation of this until much later on. In the end, he uses this device to tie up the story neatly, while still leaving some things up for speculation. I would be interested in reading Mr. Flaming's next book, as I think there is much in his style to like. His historical context but NOT characters make for a very interesting read. If he can strike a better balance in his attempts at folding in the science-fiction elements, I think he could really strike gold.

Dec 11, Stephen rated it liked it Shelves: I fully admit to only picking up this book based on the title, and even that was a whim. Being from Ohio, I figured this would be some meta-ironic thing and I would get bored and put it down. Thankfully, I was wrong. What Flaming does here is so amazingly original, it's hard to exactly put down what genre this is.

It may sound confusing, but I assure you it's not. Flaming takes all of these concepts, throws them in a blender and pours out a delicious liter I fully admit to only picking up this book based on the title, and even that was a whim. Flaming takes all of these concepts, throws them in a blender and pours out a delicious literary smoothie.

Moreover, there is a hint of self-conscious post-modernism to the way the mysterious narrator addresses his writing of the book. Though not perfect, this was creative and artfully done. My only real complaint concerns the end of the book, which I felt was not quite as good as the set-up Although math is not discussed frequently in the book, it is quite important as it not only is used to explain how the heroine travelled between realities but moreover is used by her as lure to get the attention of the Tesla who does not know her.

In fact, there are few enough explicit references to math in the book that I can essentially address them all below. The first bit of mathematics does not show up until Chapter V, quite a ways into the book. There we see a young Cheri-Anne in her kingdom of Ohio discussing mathematics with her tutor. Coulter clears his throat, picks up his glasses, polishes them, and affixes them to his perfectly straight nose. These equations simply don't work. They're both true and false -- or rather, it seems impossible to demonstrate they are either.

They problem is just in the way that you've written your maths. This sentence is false. There is a fundamental inconsistency. And here" -- she points at the paper -- "given this class of recursive formulae, there must also be a set of recursive signs for which I had a tutor -- Mr. Driggs -- who was passionate about botany. They grow in a spiral and at a certain point I realized something about the number of florets in each ring.

There was a shape to them, a progression to their growth: If you add the first and second you get the third number, then the second and third number to get the fourth --" "Exactly. The Fibonacci sequence, although of course I did not know it at the time.