Original date of publication: 1995
My edition: 2009 (Sphere)
Why I decided to read: Heard about it through HFO
How I acquired my copy: Amazon.com, January 2010
#18: 1833-1837. Covers the building of the railways and the early reign of Queen Victoria
In The Abyss, the struggle between Nicholas and Benedict Morland really takes center stage. Benedict still lives in exile, working on the railways, while his brother, Nicholas, lives a life of decadence at Morland Place, surrounded by a cast of unsavory servants. The jealousy Nicholas feels towards his younger brother is mirrored in the larger struggle going on in England—between those who support the railways and those who do not.
As you might guess from the book’s description, this installment in the series focuses on the rivalry between Nicholas and Benedict. There tends to be a bit black-and-white feel to their relationship; one of them is completely bad while the other is completely good. Still, you keep hoping that Nicholas will change his ways, even though you know his jealously is so deeply-seated that he won’t. And it’s amazing how deep that jealousy runs; Nicholas has even begun to believe all the lies he’s been telling about his brother for all these years. It even seems that the only reason why he opposes the railways is to get back at his brother.
I enjoyed reading about how the railways came about, but I did think the novel could have focused on some of the other members of the family, too. Instead, it’s as though the author totally forgot about them in order to focus on the Benedict and Nicholas storyline. Also, I think that a better way could have been found to resolve the conflict. Still, it’ll be interesting to witness the fallout from the brothers’ rivalry in the next book in the series.