Posts Tagged ‘Steampunk’

One Cog Turning by Anthony Laken

August 22, 2017 - 8:36 am No Comments

One Cog Turning by Anthony Laken

Published by Luna Press Publishing on 1st July 2017

308 pages

Reviewed by Yvonne Davies

 

I purchased this book at the author’s book launch.

Lady Bellina Ressa was a noble of Estrian, not only was she the Lord Chancellor’s daughter she was also a cognopath. A cognopath is so much more than a mind reader and the further you read her story, the more you are amazed with her abilities. To stop war breaking out, her father sends her on a secret mission, accompanying her are Lord Elvgren Lovitz a pompous idiot and Major Cirona Bouchard, a female officer who knows nothing but army life. The mission seems easy infiltrate the Burkeshis and find out what is going on.

As the three main characters go, I loved Bellina, due to being a loner, she was still confident in herself. She had a fiery tongue and I enjoyed reading her one liners, which she used quite a lot to get help her in difficult situations. Elvgren was one of those poncey lords that pruned himself like a peacock, only looking after number 1 and was it wrong that I wanted the author to kill him off from the start of the book and finally Cirona, only knowing army life she came across as a bit of a robot, but the further you went into the story the more her human side comes out. Whilst the start of the adventure went a bit wrong, it gives the reader a chance to get to know the characters in depth. On the journey, you are introduced to other characters that bring out the best and the worse of the three. Two of favourite minor characters was Dargo a loving rogue and Torkwill when he was introduced showcased Bellina’s abilities  

I enjoy steampunk when it is set in another world as it gives the author free range to tell the story without the constraints of history and this story was one of them. Whilst the technology played a big part in the story, like our technology it does go wrong this gave the author to introduce us to exotic creatures and I imagined myself riding a big lizard across the desert. This story has adventure, fantasy, magic and even zombies make an appearance. This is a journey of discovery and as you follow the story you see how each of the characters change. The story flows smoothly and the tension is there when the journey gets difficult showcasing the rollercoaster of emotions that the characters have trying to complete their mission. The twist at the end left my mind reeling and hope I do not have to wait too long for book 2    

The Vanishing Throne (Falconer 2) Elizabeth May

August 4, 2017 - 6:36 pm No Comments

The Vanishing Throne (The Falconer Trilogy: Book 2)
Author: Elizabeth May
Publisher: Gollancz
Page count: 362pp
Release date: 18th Nov 2015
(The third book The Fallen Lingdom was released 15th June 2017) Grab it now!


The first book in this series ‘The Falconer’ introduced us to a post-Regency world of early polite 19th Century society in Edinburgh, where Lady Alieana Kameron plays the game of ‘lady’ whilst tinkering with inventions.
On meeting pixie Derrick and Fae Kiaran, she discovers she is the ‘Falconer’ – the one who is strong enough to fight the fae – who wish to destroy the human world. There is much more to the first book (death, betrayal, love, passion, magic) but – spoilers darling!
Now, in the second book, having failed to save the world in a very Buffy-like manner – she is half dead and prisoner of Lonnrach – a baobhan sith – a vampire-like fae who holds Alieana in the faerie realm sucking her memories dry to find the information he needs to take a throne. The Vanishing Throne.
Time moves at a different pace in the Sith-bhruth – a week there can be months in the world of humans. But every day in her faerie prison is a day of torture – Lonnrach’s bite leaving physical and emotional scars, as his venom runs through her veins. But it is the guilt that consumes her, as much as the need to escape – she is shown visions of a desolate Edinburgh and knows she failed to save it.
Thankfully help comes in the form of Kiaran’s sister Aithinne.
There’s a nice little nod to The Princess Bride in here as Alieana escapes through the forests and rocks with Aithinne.
Though the imprisonment and escape is tense, emotional and intriguing, it was great to move on into Alieana’s normal world to see her reaction, and to see some old favourite characters.
Derrick the tiny winged pixie is particularly funny, as is Aithinne’s jubilant use of ‘normal’ swear words (implied at and stopped at just the right moment rather than expressed) and her sibling rivalry with Kiaran. Never mind Alieana’s love for Kiaran- a powerful fae she is only just getting to know.
When Derrick is drunk on honey he is very productive and at one point makes new clothes for Alieana- who huffs – to which Derrick replies “so just because the world ends you can’t dress fancy anymore?” Point made! I can almost feel Joss Whedon’s influence here, in reflect of sparkling dialogue at the least.
As for Kiaran, he has taught himself not to feel compassion after centuries in faerie, but seeing Alieana again stirs something deep inside, and when she is hurt at one point by another character his anger is cold. Bound from killing humans he still points out, “It’s incredible what the human body can endure without dying.” He’s your ‘Angel’ to Alieana’s Buffy; sexy, brooding, stalwart, strong – and lethal.
As a team, our heroes are formidable adversaries for Lonnrach, each character having different attributes to bring to the party; carrying on with the Buffy analogy – the ‘Scooby Gang’, each one valuable in their own right, with believable personalities to match.
With the gang and the surviving humans forming a truce with the pixies, we see an extraordinary underground city; glittering quartz domes, bee hive shaped houses, obsidian buildings, and food from everywhere in the world, which the pixies can create from nothing. But the sparkling fae disturb Alieana who still bears the scars of her torture.
However, for the reader, the city is awesome; you can smell, taste and feel this place. Stunning. Yet for Alieana there’s something missing that the real world has. Yet that real world is shattered and can’t be returned to right now. That won’t stop Alieana from trying to save the world that exists now – with a fairy killing gun (a blunderbus of her own design) her own innate powers and her team as back up.
This is a hero I can get on with. And here’s why;
“No – I don’t want balls (now now trader! not that type), or parties, or dresses again. No elevenhours or fourhours or being forced into marriage.
Those things all kept me caged …”
This is an awesome blend of Austen-era bad-assery heroines, magical steampunk, fae legend and urban fantasy.

The Bastard Wonderland by Lee Harrison

January 6, 2017 - 10:51 pm No Comments

The Bastard Wonderland by Lee Harrison

Published by Wrecking Ball Press on 27th October 2016

376 pages

Reviewed by Yvonne Davies

Warboys spent most of his young life working on the ships, getting a chartership, is too much like hard work so he gets by without one until the night their king abdicated and the country was under Martial law. Wanting to unite the whole continent, General Malvy takes over the running of the country and brings in conscription.  Not wanting to fight, Warboys tries to go on the run and with his dad Bill find a flying machine. Unfortunately, they did not get very far and end up getting caught, however this just the start of an epic adventure, an adventure that finds Warboys up against an ancient cult, slave masters and living flying machines.

Warboys was a loveable rogue who at the beginning was only looking out for number one, but as his adventure continues his caring nature starts to come out especially towards Nouzi Aaranya. Spending the time with his dad had a good effect on him and he starts to mature, the father/son relationship at times was comical and they did have a Steptoe and son feel about them. One scene in particular was when they were discussing take-aways and invented fish, chips and mushy peas.

From the 1st word you are transported into a perilous journey, be it marching through a desolate countryside or drinking and fighting at Junkers the scrapyard. This book had it all, action, comedy and adventure, with a mixture of steampunk, fantasy and sci-fi this should please a lot of readers. I was surprised to find out that this was the author’s first novel and this was so well written. The ending was gripping and does give scope for further adventures for Warboys. I for one hope that there will more books for me to read.

Ecta: The Divide by Kyle Perkins and Samantha Harrington

November 6, 2016 - 12:26 pm No Comments

Ecta: The Divide by Kyle Perkins and Samantha Harrington

Published 17th February 2016

150 pages

Reviewed by Yvonne Davies

28936857Skywaard is in crisis, a civilisation living in the sky, they rely on technology to survive, but with a growing population and a lack of food, they realise that they need to start negotiating with Ariviil. Ariviil is the complete opposite to Skywaard. Living off the land, with no technology insight. The residents of Ariviil have worked hard to survive.

Leading the negotiations for Skywaard is Sebastian, sent to Ariviil for his charm and good looks, Sebastian likes nothing more than a good time and excels in his life of booze and a different woman on his arm.

Landing on Ariviil, not knowing the customs, Sebastian comes across Loriella who is an outcast to her people due to her magical ability. She has a gift of willing people to see what they desire and it has a stronger effect through sex. When she meets Sebastian, there is an instant attraction and against her better judgement she helps him.

Sebastian is very sure of himself and is a man who likes his sex, but when things don’t go his way, he reminds me of a lost little boy. Loriella is a self-confident, no nonsense woman, happy to live her life, but when she meets Sebastian she starts having doubts and although she tries to hide it her magic gives her away.

A great mash-up of genres, steampunk, erotica, fantasy, this story is a good introduction to what is to come. Although this book is written by 2 different authors, you could not tell, as the story flows evenly. Written from the protagonists POV, it never once got confusing as straightaway you could tell who’s story it was. With the story ending with the threat of war, I am so looking forward to the next book.

Jani and The Great Pursuit

February 24, 2016 - 11:41 am No Comments

Jani and the Great Pursuit
Eric Brown
Publisher: Solaris
Page Count: 384pp
Release date: 23rd Feb 2016
Reviewed by Chris Amies

“Jani and the Great Pursuit” is the sequel to “Jani and the Greater Game,” an adventurous tale set in an alternative India in the 1920s where the British Raj is underpinned by alien technology. Jani Chatterjee is a young woman of mixed race who when this novel opens is being pursued by the villanous Durga Das, who is possessed by a lifeform he believes to be the goddess Kali. Jani is accompanied by her companions the houseboy Anand and British Lieutenant Alfie Littlebody. Durga Das is pursuing her because he believes her to be in possession of an artefact, the ventha-di, that when properly configured will allow travel between worlds. There is danger in the stars however: a predatory (could we say imperialist) race called the Zhell who have their sights on Earth, where the British, the Russians and the Chinese are contenders for world domination (this was the “Great Game” of the first book).

The novel starts, as steampunk often does, in the air. ‘Jani was aboard the “Pride of Edinburgh, somewhere over northern Greece, when she made the acquaintance of the mechanical dog.’ That made me want to read on (as well as putting me in mind of the first line of “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas”).

Could you describe this series as ‘steampunk’? That genre is usually associated with a late Victorian / Edwardian setting. But here we have Soviet Russia (post-1917), and De Havilland aircraft (a company established in 1920). The feel of the novel is definitely inter-war thriller (Wheatley, Charteris, Bernede …), which would make this Valvepunk. On the other hand you have the airships – definitely steampunk, but in a world where the existence of alien technology may have slowed the development of Earth’s own tech (because we didn’t have to bother), there might still be airships instead of aeroplanes.

The world Eric Brown describes is engaging. I could well imagine Londoners being enthused by rocket launches from Ealing. The secondary characters such as Sebastian and Lady Eddington are also memorable.

How to set a story within a world that is unjust and imperialist? Unlikely as it might sound, Dennis Wheatley (a kind of clubland Tory not read much nowadays) overcame this conundrum in the 1930s by making his protagonists foreign or outsiders (his ‘good companions’ are Dutch-American, French, Russian, and Anglo-Jewish). Here, Jani is an outsiders’ outsider: neither quite Indian nor quite British and not accepted by the British in India – she is once described as a ‘Chutney Mary’ (an Indian woman who adopts European ways). Nor is she some kind of unlikely superheroine but a courageous and intelligent young woman albeit one who feels out of place in Delhi and London and “was a product of both places … but … belonged to neither.” Which paradoxically makes her suited to the London she finds, a city where the wonders on show are “developed by alien minds … not the brainchild of the British but driven by otherworldly technology.”

“Various astounding and life-threatening escapades,” says the blurb. There are indeed.