The Anubis Gates
by Tim Powers
In 1802, Doctor Romany and Amenophis Fikee perform an incantation at the behest of their master, an incantation that should allow Anubis to come forth and sorcery to rule the world. In 1983, Brendan Doyle receives a summons from a rich old man who wants to travel to 1810 to observe Samuel Taylor Coleridge, and wants Doyle to lecture his fellow travelers before they set off.
Powers weaves a deft, complicated tale in which both of those apparently divergent tales have much to do with one another. Filled with eccentric characters and the danger of the London streets, the many threads of this story come together in sometimes surprising ways and the pace never lets up.
Exploring new genres is fun! I've been meaning to try steampunk for awhile - though I'm more of a fantasy than science fiction fan, the alternate history part of it intrigued me and it's just an awesome name for a genre, anyways - so when some folks on LibraryThing decided to start a Steampunk Group Read I jumped in with them. The Anubis Gates is one of the classics of the genre, though it doesn't have all the trademarks, particularly the Victorian setting, and has more magic than steam technology. One of the posts on the group read thread explains better than I can how this particular title fits within the genre (reader beware - the link goes to a thread with spoilers, though that particular message doesn't have any).
I'm definitely planning on reading more steampunk this year. Soulless or The Affinity Bridge with be next; the latter will be for the group read.