Monday, May 18, 2009

"The Rise of the Iron Moon" by Stephen Hunt

The problem with series' reviews is that you always have to start at the beginning, at least most of the times, and so was not the case, when I received Stephen Hunt's "The Rise of the Iron Moon". Naturally this caused problems at the beginning 200 pages, when I was bombarded with information about the world, the reader is expected to already know. From reviews on the first two books from the series I know that worldbuilding wise there are numerous facts to keep in mind. It was a rough and hard transition for me into the wondrous world on Stephen Hunt, but it was worth every minute of puzzlement.

How can a plucky young orphan girl save the world from ultimate destruction?

Born into captivity as a product of the Royal Breeding House, lonely orphan Purity Drake suddenly finds herself on the run with a foreign vagrant after accidentally killing one of her guards.

Her mysterious rescuer claims to have escaped from terrible forces who mean to enslave the Kingdom of the Jackals as they conquered his own nation. Purity doubts his story, until reports begin to filter through from Jackals’ neighbours of the murderous Army of Shadows, marching across the continent and sweeping all before them.

But there’s more to Purity Drake than meets the eye. And as Jackals girds itself for war against an army of near-indestructible beasts serving an ancient evil with a terrible secret, it soon becomes clear that the Kingdom’s only hope is a strange little orphan girl and the last, desperate plan of an escaped slave from a land far, far away…

Without more detailed information about the previous books in the series other than the book blurbs and positive reviews in general, I can't decide on a stand how well or strong the series develops, but as a confused reader I can testify that this is one of the strongest novels in the spec fic genre I have read as a whole.

In that light I can't comment about such things are characterization of previous character that re-appear in this installment such as Molly, Hood of the Marsh and Coppertracks, who from my point of view are wholesome, well rounded individuals with strengths and flaws and read completely human. Hunt made me care for everybody in this novel, at least those that he intended for the reader to care for, even the prickish Lord Rocksby, who can drive you insane with his obnoxious behavior. The new additional set involved in this novel such as Serenity, the destined new queen of Jackals and her mystical army of bandits, and Duncan, a weirdo with a skeleton in his suitcase, are extremely colorful and offer quite the excitement.

The pace of "The Rising Moon" spirals with an organic set of highs and lows with a tendency to increase, until adrenaline turned me into a junkie. The uniqueness of steampunk is that it combines the best of fantasy, science fiction and the ever popular 19th century Britain and you can go with this genre in several directions that can lead the reader towards many pleasant surprises. As a fan of originality and unorthodox story elements I am left satisfied with the fresh take on classical tropes in fantasy and sci-fi such as sentient robots, magic, prophecies and sentient space ships. Brilliant blend of the best of both worlds at least for my tastes.

The quality that lured me in completely is the actual prose and style of writing, which customary for the steampunk genre has to carry the polite melody of 19th century British mannerism. For not one single line have I found a fault in this department. Not a single modern expression slipped through the fingers of the author and it shows how much Hunt took care to be impossibly accurate. Something, which can elude most authors.

Overall as a conclusion, even though I had slept through world basics 101 in the first two volumes, I give my two thumbs up for the book and a gun barrel pointing at a potential reader to get to the nearest book store and hoard copies of the three novels, because I think they are also as good as this one.


SQT said...

I have the first book in this series (which I NEED to get to). I've read a little and what I've read so far is really good. Looks like I need to bump this up on my to-do list. I'm cutting back on my reviews for the local magazine so I should have time to finally get to backlogged books.

Harry Markov said...

You lucky k-9 you! I am so jealous. I wish I had that book and the one after that. Maybe it would have been a different experience as a whole. :) And you better get back to your site honey, cuz you can exploit our shallow greed for free books only for so long. Every once in awhile we need content from you. *laughs*

Bookfool said...

I've read a lot of series books, lately, for tours. It's really fascinating how sometimes they stand alone beautifully and at other times there's so much info you're supposed to already know that you're lost within the first 50 pages.

And, having said that, I'd love to get my mitts on this book because I love the cover! How shallow is that?

Harry Markov said...

Not shallow at all. My eyes shine and sparkle, when I see an eye candy cover art just waiting for me to take the book and buy it. :D
And I was lost due to not reading the first two books in a heavily accented upon worldbuilding series.

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