Skip to main content Skip to search Skip to search

Fiction Steampunk


by (author) Thomas Wharton

McClelland & Stewart
Initial publish date
Mar 2002
Steampunk, General, Literary
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Mar 2002
    List Price

Add it to your shelf

Where to buy it


Spellbinding, original, Salamander careens through a world of ideas and stories in which the transforming power of books, the thirst for knowledge, and the pursuit of immortality become erotic. It is also a universal story of love and obsession.

Set in the eighteenth century, the narrative revolves around a world-spanning quest for the infinite book. Along the way the novel gathers stories that range from a Chinese tale of jealousy and lost love to the remarkable history of Alexandria’s other great library and to epoch-making moments on the battlefields of colonial America. At the centre of the novel’s unforgettable cast of characters is the London printer Nicholas Flood, a dedicated craftsman who is unprepared for all that awaits him when he accepts an unusual commission. Intricate, humane, infused with humour and pathos, Salamander is an exhilarating, elegantly crafted novel.

About the author

Thomas Wharton was born in Grande Prairie, Alberta, an agriculture and oil city located near the BC border. His father, a utilities manager, was transferred to Jasper when Wharton was a teen. The years Wharton spent exploring the mountains and glaciers around Jasper have had a lasting impact on his literary output; references to the Rocky Mountains weave in and out of the books he has written, most notably Icefields (NeWest Press, 1995) and The Logogryph. A life-long love of maps, history, art, and poetry equally informs his work. His latest adult novel is Every Blade of Grass. He is also the author of a fantasy trilogy, The Perilous Realm for younger readers. The Shadow of Malabron, The Fathomless Fire, and The Tree Story are available from Doubleda Canada.

Thomas Wharton's profile page


  • Short-listed, Governor General's Literary Awards - Fiction

Editorial Reviews

“A remarkable, electrifying novel.” —Georgia Straight
“A novel as sensual and fantastic as a fairy tale and as thoughtful and as beautifully written as anything we might expect from Michael Ondaatje and Isabel Allende.” —London Free Press

“Witty, elliptical and provoking. . . . Delightful.” —Montreal Gazette

“A cabinet of wonders.” —Globe and Mail
“A vigorous, imaginative novel about the power of reading and invention.” —Quill & Quire
Salamander is the sort of book every reader hopes to find, earnestly passes along to friends, and returns to in their dreams. . . . A visceral, compelling novel that will reward both serious inquiry and reading for pure pleasure. . . . A beautiful, emotionally resonant postmodern novel.” —National Post

“This novel cannot help but connect deeply with its readers.” —Edmonton Journal

“It’s all too rare that you pick up a book and find yourself inexorably swept into a different world, thoroughly absorbed in a realm far removed from the here and now. . . . Salamander captivates its readers, holds them spellbound, and persists in memory long after you’ve turned the final page. . . . Thoroughly absorbing.” —Vancouver Sun

“Wharton’s novel is both spellbinding and encyclopedic. . . . It is a book lovers’ book and a lovers’ story.” —New Brunswick Reader

Salamander is an extraordinary book of possibilities.” —Calgary Herald
“[Wharton] cement[s] his reputation as one of Canada’s most promising young writers.” —Maclean’s

Other titles by

Related lists