Wednesday, 9 March 2011

Review: Retribution Falls (Tales of the Ketty Jay 1), by Chris Wooding

I read this last year, and have bought (but not yet read) the second book, The Black Lung Captain. Retribution Falls is a refreshingly high tempo book set in a world radically different to the standard sword and sorcery of fantasy.

Airships are common, there’s a more rational/scientific approach to magic and the weapon of choice is the gun rather than the broadsword.

The story follows the dysfunctional collection of waifs and strays that comprise the crew of the Ketty Jay, including an alcoholic, a dabbler in diabolical arts and a mighty metal harbinger of woe. The new navigator is probably the crewmember that most approaches normality, although normal she is not.

Frey, captain of the Ketty Jay, partakes of all manner of unsavoury pursuits, including smuggling and the like. When a tip-off he gets turns out to be a set-up, he ends up becoming the quarry of every decent, law-abiding chap. Using a combination of slyness, low cunning and blind luck, he and his crew of misfits attempt to evade capture and reveal the truth.

I raced through this book, and enjoyed learning more about the interesting crew. Generally, I prefer grey characters to ultra-heroic or cackling creatures of pure evil, and the crew of the Ketty Jay come with their fair share of vices, and the odd virtue.

All that stopped me from buying the sequel immediately was my ever-growing list of books-to-be-read. It’s a lighter book than most I read, and definitely faster, but none the worse for that. The characters are fun and interact well, the world is original and interesting, and it’s the sort of book that isn’t read so much as devoured in a day or two.


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