Saturday, December 29, 2012

The Burning Sky (Halcyon #1 : A Steampunk Thriller - Joseph Robert Lewis

    2011; 331 pages.  Book 1 of the Halcyon trilogy.  New Author? : No.  Genres :  Action-Adventure; Alt History; Steampunk.  Overall Rating : 8*/10.

    Someone has blown up the Tingis airfield, killing dozens, destroying one dirigible, stealing another.  Lieutenant Taziri Ohana arrives to find only one remaining airship – the Halcyon – still operable.  She’d prefer to turn around and go back home to her husband and small daughter, but when her captain is stabbed in the face by one of the perpetrators, the issue becomes personal.

    So it’s up, up and away to chase the hijacked blimp.  But things escalate quickly and it becomes clear that the airfield sabotage is just the first step in a bigger plot.  With bigger and more dangerous foes to face.

What’s To Like...
    The action starts immediately and is nonstop.  The POV changes every chapter, which prevents the storyline from bogging down.  The Alternate World is kewl.  Essentially it is the Mediterranean area where the last Ice Age never ended.  This affects the history, the fauna and flora, and of course the climate.  Places like England and Germany are in deep-freeze, and the Saharan region of Africa (“Ifrica”) is lush, fertile, and temperate.  The story takes place almost entirely in alt-Morocco (“Marrakesh”), which is unusual for Steampunk.

    Women dominate the Marrakesh government, and that’s intriguing.  Overall, the Ifricans are more civilized that the Europans; that’s a pleasant change-of-pace.  Some good guys die, and some bad guys get away.  The Burning Sky is part of a trilogy, but it is also a standalone novel.

    Syfax thumbed his nose.  “She might have even shot the captain by accident.  Never forget your SCARF’s, lieutenant.”
    “Scarves?  What’s that mean?”
    “Stupid, Crazy, And Random Factors,” Kenan answered from the cabin.  “Crimes that just don’t make any sense.”  (loc. 396)

    Is that all?  Is that all you have to say over the body of a man who lived and died at your side?  A man who followed you half way around the world, who gave up his people, his country, his gods, even his language to stand by you, to put his flesh between you and death countless times?
    He swallowed and stared down at the weathered face lying still in the dust.  His own reflection stared up from the dark pool of blood under the man’s head.  Lorenzo nodded to himself.  Then that’s all there is.  (loc. 1785)
Kindle Details...
    The Burning Sky sells for $2.99 at Amazon. The other two books in the series, The Broken Sword and The Bound Soul are the same price.  Joseph Robert Lewis has penned two other trilogies set in the same alt-world, so you have lots of opportunities to immerse yourself in it and follow his fascinating characters.

“Where is a priest or a ghost when you need one?”  (loc. 1809)
    I’ve read Book 2 of the Halcyon trilogy; it is reviewed here.  The Broken Sword was more of a “quest” story, whereas The Burning Sky seemed to focus on some “larger” themes.  The scent of revolution hangs in the Marrakeshian air, and a worldwide conflict is not unlikely.

   The main characters are different – Taziri here; Don Lorenzo in Book 2.  Part of the backstory – Lorenzo and Qhora meeting in a disastrous invasion of the New World by the Espani is still not detailed.  Maybe that’s part of a different trilogy.

    8 Stars.  This really is a page-turner.  The third book is on my Kindle; we shall see how Joseph Robert Lewis wraps up the series.

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