In The Family Trade, Charles Stross brings together an interesting blend of several different fantasy subgenres. Most of the characters are enjoyable and make sense in their roles, but the main character, Miriam, seems to have left her blue and red superwoman suit in her luggage. She acquires an unending stream of skills and abilities when she gets in a tight spot. Sometimes, in order to be realistic, an author needs to let the hero flounder and fail a bit.
But I look forward to the next Merchant Princes book because The Family Trade has set a stage where multiple factions appear to be competing to eradicate Miriam, and I’m hoping that Charles Stross let’s her accomplish goals through better collaboration and luck instead of a seemingly unending stash of specific expertise and spy/soldier skills that don’t make a lot of sense coming from a Med School Student/Journalist.