The Hidden Institute
By: Brand Gamblin
Publish Date: March 2011
Series: 1st Noblesse Oblige series
First Glance Feel: A unique world for boys to learn to be better. Oh and what they learn to be, but there are a few who strive for more.
Rising above your station can be deadly. Cliffy is a child born on the streets of a Neo-Victorian world. Witnesses to a murder, he blackmails a nobleman, receiving a unique bribe. In exchange for his silence, the nobleman introduces him to the Malcolm Rutherford Holden Institute of Regentrification. There, Cliffy learns to walk, talk, and act like a nobleman, so that he may infiltrate high society. But that type of fraud is punishable by death, and when Cliffy uncovers a plot to assassinate a head of state, he's hunted by more than just the aristocracy. Royal intrigue, daring escapes, sub-dermal machines, and bear polo. A grand adventure in a not-so-distant world.
Lord Wheylan Simmons was not in attendance when his valet was murdered.
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My Thoughts and Summary:
Cliffy sees a man die, the man with him offers Cliffy a chance of a lifetime. Cliffy takes it but, being at The Hidden Institute, he's made some enemies of power. He's set to go to a ball in which being barely a freshman he would not be sent on this test. At that ball Cliffy learns the dangerous Silks are present. The Silks make it their life to find and expose those that graduate from The Hidden Institute and lie about who they are. Cliffy can't pass on the chance to learn who the Crone, and leader of the Silks, is. Slowly Cliffy uncovers secret groups in the Institute, one in particular that is hired to kill once they graduate.
The Malcolm Rutherford Holden Institute skates on the outskirts of the law as it's hidden from others. And they are criminals of a sense with falsifying information and histories of their students. The school has a huge mysterious feel of it's own as we enter. In a way it reminds me of a Hogwarts when we first enter, but for fake nobles. It's really fascinating and has it's own history, enemy, rules, and much more to it.
I really love the creation of the servant education here. The Hidden Institute has a magical draw for me with the well created world and history here. Even the solid personality of Dizzy is wonderful. He's bold and knows the ways yet he's not fully conceded in demanding for his own needs. He has a respect for the help and what they do. Yet he wants to be more than the low Nobel position the Institute teaches them to be.
There is a mechanical essence present to the story. It's not really steampunk or overly mechanical. The term Brand has attached to the genre is spot on, Neo-Victorian. There's a Victorian era feel to the story yet a bit more. There's an automation to take care of the needs of Dizzy and Cliffy at the Institute and in their rooms. lol. The automation helps in speech, posture, and to needs of chair opening and such. There are a few additional mechanicals in the story as well. I really like the idea of how they 'know' information.
Cliffy is a street urchin through and through. He doesn't take well from the command of others. He is independent and use to having a bit of control over what he does. The story seems that he loses that, yet he has to learn to have greater control over himself. Cliffy is an inquisitive boy. He's not afraid to back down from anything, or anyone, and it finds him in mischievous situations. I really like Cliffy. He has a way about him. He's not a bad kid from the streets. He's independent yet has a heart and cares.
We get to attend classes with Cliffy when he starts. I found I really enjoyed what each teacher brings to the students. The intent of what the students are to learn, the deep down reason and moral they need to know. The way the teachers teach these major points is very interesting. They use different ways than we would think so the students learn by doing. It sticks with Cliffy and the reader greatly, along with keeping the action and events interesting and important for later. And how the other students interact with Cliffy, all makes it intriguing.
Brand does an amazing job of drawing a world and details of why things are as they are crafted to the way of living of the Royals and all around. I love this full circle creation and connection.