The frozen wasteland of Snow World - known as Southern California before an alien invasion decimated civilization - is home to warring steampunk clans. Crankshafts, Imperials, Tinskins, Brineboilers, and many more all battle one another for precious supplies, against ravenous mutant beasts for basic survival, and with the mysterious Founders for their very freedom.
Through this ruined world soars the Pneumatic Zeppelin, captained by the daring Romulus Buckle. In the wake of a nearly suicidal assault on the Founders' prison city to rescue key military leaders, both the steam-powered airship and its crew are bruised and battered. Yet there's little time for rest or repairs: Founders raids threaten to shatter the fragile alliance Buckle has risked everything to forge among the clans.
Even as he musters what seems a futile defense in the face of inevitable war, Buckle learns that the most mysterious clan of all is holding his long-lost sister in a secret base - and that she holds the ultimate key to victory over the Founders. But rescuing her means abandoning his allies and praying they survive long enough for there to be an alliance to return to.
©2013 Richard Ellis Preston, Jr. (P)2013 Brilliance Audio, all rights reserved.
It's series like this one that make me fall in love with steampunk all over again. Romulus Buckle and the Engines of War continues the series, providing plenty of action/adventure, introducing new characters, and giving us more information on the dystopian Los Angeles world in which this is set. I'm reminded of great seafaring tales like Treasure island and Horatio Hornblower - with the action and adventure in the air rather than on the sea.
In this second book, Romulus sets out to discover who really attacked the Tehachapi stronghold - was it the Imperials or did the Founders have a hand in the action instead? For the land is in turmoil: rumors abound that the Founders are going to go all out in war - and the Crankshafts will need all the allies they can get. That is, unless one ally ends up being the daughter of Buckle's Imperial enemy. And along the way he is going to learn that all of the Crankshaft orphans have terrible secrets - including Romulus' sister Elizabeth. Cue krakens, sabretooth tigers, blizzards, air ship battles, explosions, and more!
There's a lot of male wish fulfillment here, as Buckle grapples with not two but now three nubile women on his ship as Valkyrie, daughter of the Imperial clean leader, is forced to join his crew. But that doesn't bother me in a book where the women give as good as they take. For once, every woman is on equal footing with their male counterparts and I just love that about the book. It's a book that is agreeable to both women and men (especially considering we have both male and female POVs).
While the first book was nearly non stop action, the second book takes its time to set up more world building, including intriguing hints about all the Crankshafts. We're also given a glimpse of more clans, their leaders, and some great foreshadowing to come. Each of those clans are really fun - from the Aztec inspired 'snakeheads' to the pseudoGerman Imperials.
There really is so much inventiveness in this series. I eagerly look forward to the next book in the series! This is steampunk done right - fun, exciting, thrilling, and joyfully over the top.
The narrator is very exuberant - the most animated I've ever heard, in fact!
I would listen to this again, as the story is quite well done and the characters are just that touch of over the top in some of their actions that makes this fun to listen to. Plus Luke Daniels does an outstanding job with accents and voices to keep everyone straight in your mind.
Everything, from his excellent use of accents for different characters to deeper or higher voices. He has a fantastic ability to make you believe in the character by doing a perfect job of enacting their lines as he reads them.
Preston likes to use what some would call $50 words when doing his descriptions of characters and scenery. I can understand where this might throw some people off, but it is nice to hear some of the words in the English language that aren't used as much any more, without (in my opinion) over doing it too much and making you wish he would get on with it. I'm not a fan of using 100 words when 30 will paint the same picture, but I think Preston does a good job of walking the line. If you like SteamPunk and larger than life characters brought to life by a talented voice artist, then I highly recommend this series.
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