Tag Archives: Steampunk

The Rise of the Iron Moon

The Rise of the Iron Moon is Stephen Hunt’s third adventure set in the world of Jackals. The novel is an unequivocal mess, destroying most of what Hunt had built in the previous two novels. Another dual thread narrative exposes the inability of Hunt to balance his stories creating inevitable peaks and valleys in the enjoyability. At times interesting and other times a horrible slog, the book sacrifices most of the compelling characters to create an incoherent, disjointed and lunatic plot.

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Quotable

Sometimes, little author, the only way to destroy your enemy is to make them your friend.

– Colonel Paul-Loop Keyspierre
The Rise of the Iron Moon by Stephen Hunt

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The Kingdom Beyond the Waves

The second novel set in Stephen Hunt’s Jackelian World, The Kingdom Beyond the Waves, is a clear improvement from its predecessor The Court of the Air. Both stories, while they share a common setting, are self contained despite the presences of overlapping characters in both novels.  (I actually read The Kingdom Beyond the Waves first by happenstance.)

Professor Amelia Harsh, who made a brief cameo in The Court of the Air to rescue  Molly Templar from the criminal undercity, opens the book on an archeological expedition searching for clues of an ancient civilization called Camlantis. Representing an era of peace and prosperity in the distant past, Camlantis is regarded as heretical by the senior university officials throughout all of Jackals. This leaves Professor Harsh bereft of school funding and forced to engage in questionable personal adventures to try and find tangible proof of the Camlanteans.  Unsurprisingly, the questionable personal adventure she is currently on contains questionable people who betray her once the treasure is found. She is left limping back to Jackals further disgraced and marginalized.

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Quotable

Tell them that I didn’t find Camlantis. Tell them that you can never find it. You can only build it.

– Professor Amelia Harsh
The Kingdom Beyond the Waves by Stephen Hunt

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The Court of The Air

With the opening novel set in the Jackelian world, The Court of the Air is a thrill ride that contains more ideas than it knows how to deliver.  Author Stephen Hunt pits two orphans against a menacing evil, gives them power they don’t understand, allies that they can’t trust and asks them to save the world as they know it. The two primary story lines are uneven in execution and one protagonist fares better as a character than the other.  The novel is, at times, a daunting read and Hunt fails to fully execute on some of the grand ideas but, on balance, it’s a fun adventure tale with elements of steampunk and fantasy.

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Escapement

The second book in Jay Lake’s Clockworth Earth series, Escapement is a multi-viewpoint work that brings minor characters from Mainspring back to serve in prominent roles. The world creation continues to be the best feature of this novel but the characterization problems that plagued Mainspring are mostly absent.  The plot proves far more worthy of the setting with better, though imperfect, pacing and more nuanced, subtle metaphor for religion.

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Mainspring

Jay Lake’s Mainspring is a book that is better liked in faded memories than in the moment of reading it.  A clumsily characterized protagonist and a meandering plot are further confounded by a rather bizarre love story.  The book is the first in Jay Lake’s Clockworth Earth series and the subsequent novels are, on balance, the better novels. There are redeeming aspects to Lake’s world-building but it is overshadowed by the book’s flaws.

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