Review: Retribution Falls (Tales of the Ketty Jay #1) ~ Chris Wooding

retribution fallsFrey is the captain of the Ketty Jay, leader of a small and highly dysfunctional band of layabouts. An inveterate womaniser and rogue, he and his gang make a living on the wrong side of the law, avoiding the heavily armed flying frigates of the Coalition Navy. With their trio of ragged fighter craft, they run contraband, rob airships and generally make a nuisance of themselves. So a hot tip on a cargo freighter loaded with valuables seems like a great prospect for an easy heist and a fast buck. Until the heist goes wrong, and the freighter explodes. Suddenly Frey isn’t just a nuisance anymore – he’s public enemy number one, with the Coalition Navy on his tail and contractors hired to take him down. But Frey knows something they don’t. That freighter was rigged to blow, and Frey has been framed to take the fall. If he wants to prove it, he’s going to have to catch the real culprit. He must face liars and lovers, dogfights and gunfights, Dukes and daemons. It’s going to take all his criminal talents to prove he’s not the criminal they think he is …

4 Thumbs-UpIf you are a Browncoat who is lost in lamentations over the cancellation of Firefly, this is the book for you.  I’m not saying it will replace the crew of Serenity, but it will go a long way to fill the void and feed the need for a good pirate/cowboy steampunk western.

The individual crew members of the Ketty Jay are introduced to the reader one by one, with each revealing their story, apart from the Captain.  To say he was a work in progress would be an understatement as his character was developed and grew and the novel progressed.  Most of all the characters are loveable on the Ketty Jay, maybe not so much their motives and reasoning at some points, but they each have something about them that will have the reader wanting to learn more about them and join them on their adventures;  Id’ join them if we could leave the Captain behind as I just could not warm to him and thought him to be a bit of a spineless human being.  As in all the good adventure stories the villains, are well just that, villains.  From the description of these characters, right down to the personalities they each have there is nothing that could have the reader mistaking them for being anything else than what they are…baddies.

Although, in my opinion, the story takes a while to get underway this is not a bad thing, as in these ‘slow’ moments is where the set-up for the adventure begins and when it starts it definitely moves along at a cracking pace and does not disappoint at all.  Through great writing the Author is able to provide a perfect balance of sadness alongside humour and wraps it all up in the form of shenanigans.  There is magic, gun play, sword fights and daemons; so enough of everything to appeal to most reader.

I would highly recommend this novel to all Browncoats, steampunk fans and lovers of the type of adventure novels that are so hard to come by today.  I will definitely be reading the remaining ‘Tales of the Ketty Jay’ novels.

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Review: Under the Black Ensign ~ L. Ron Hubbard

Under the Black ensignLong before Captain Jack Sparrow raised hell with the Pirates of the Caribbean, Tom Bristol sailed to hell and back Under the Black Ensign.That’s where the real adventure begins.

Bristol’s had plenty of bad luck in his life. Press-ganged into serving aboard a British vessel, he’s felt the cruel captain’s lash on his back. Then, freed from his servitude by pirates, his good fortune immediately takes a bad turn . . . as the pirates accuse him of murder—and leave him to die on a deserted island. Now all he has left are a few drops of water, a gun, and just enough bullets to put himself out of his misery.
But Bristol’s luck is about to change. Finding himself in the unexpected company of a fiery woman and a crafty crew, he unsheathes his sword, raises a pirate flag of his own, and sets off to make love and war on the open seas.

4 Thumbs-UpThis is one of a number of books that appear in the Golden Age series.  For those of you who may be worried that the book may contain references to scientology or dianetics, for which this Author appears to be well-known, you need not worry.  At no point in my reading of this did I find any references to either of these.

If you are a reader that is looking for a no frills, straight to the action kind of book, this one will be right up your alley.  Like most books written in this era and classified as pulp fiction, there is no thought at all given to any character development, and when every page is packed with action and adventure, why waste time with all the frills and fancy that developing a back story brings with it.  As with most of this Authors Golden Age books, the characters portrayed within its pages are not the usual stereotypical fodder one would except from this kind of book; instead they are more archetypical which makes the book more palatable for the reader.

At only 121 pages, this little novella is full of pirates, adventure, mishap, exploits and did I mention pirates?  Every kind of piratical adventure imaginable is packed into these pages, and the reader can find themselves turning the last page before they realise it.  It’s a high-octane and great uncomplicated read for all ages, especially children who are caught up in the pirate craze, and adults looking for some good old-fashioned escapism.  I also feel this book would be suitable as bedtime reading to your children and grandchildren, and would definitely read it to mine.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book, and will definitely be hunting down some more of the Golden Age books for those nasty winter afternoons that lay ahead.  I highly recommend you do the same.

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