Author: Chris Wooding
Blurb: Sky piracy is a bit out of Darian Frey’s league. Fate has not been kind to the captain of the airship Ketty Jay—or his motley crew. They are all running from something. Crake is a daemonist in hiding, traveling with an armored golem and burdened by guilt. Jez is the new navigator, desperate to keep her secret from the rest of the crew. Malvery is a disgraced doctor, drinking himself to death. So when an opportunity arises to steal a chest of gems from a vulnerable airship, Frey can’t pass it up. It’s an easy take—and the payoff will finally make him a rich man.
But when the attack goes horribly wrong, Frey suddenly finds himself the most wanted man in Vardia, trailed by bounty hunters, the elite Century Knights, and the dread queen of the skies, Trinica Dracken. Frey realizes that they’ve been set up to take a fall but doesn’t know the endgame. And the ultimate answer for captain and crew may lie in the legendary hidden pirate town of Retribution Falls. That’s if they can get there without getting blown out of the sky.
The Verdict: It all started with an article I ran across on Twitter with 5 recommended Steampunk books to read. While the other four books on the list sounded good, this one had me hooked as soon as it was described as “Steampunk for fans of the TV show Firefly” or something along those lines. And let me tell you, I am a huge fan of Whedon’s Firefly. While I’m still waiting with the army of Browncoats for a Season 2 to get announced, I thought I might as well take some time and get my hands on a copy of this book to see how it stacks up.
The bad news: it isn’t Firefly. I don’t think it was ever meant to be, but it has a lot of things in it that certainly remind me of that beloved show and that is a good thing. Comparing this book to that show would be an injustice, one I will try hard to avoid. The book should be judged for what it is.
And this book is, at the end of the day, a great book. It has a great crew aboard the Ketty Jay, each one with a secret that is being kept from the rest of the crew. The dynamics between the crew members is easily the highlight of the book. That was one of the things that made Firefly memorable as well, so this is where I believe at least part of the idea of touting it as a Steampunk Firefly came about. There are plenty of twists, as well as back story reveals, that keep everything interesting. It was a difficult book to put down. the only caution is that there are plenty of unsubtle innuendos and profanities that would make this book unsuitable for a younger crowd.
Who should read this book? If you like Steampunk, motley crews, airships, pirates, heists, airship battles, betrayal, scenes of Russian roulette, golems, intricate schemes, witty banter, poker references or Firefly you will probably enjoy this book.