Review of RETRIBUTION FALLS by Chris Wooding
Spectra, April 2011
Darian Frey may play at being a tough guy, but mostly he wants to hold onto his airship, the Ketty Jay. If that means sacrificing one of his crew, well, he'd be sorry, of course, but compared to losing his ship, that's a price he'll pay. With a bit of smuggling, occasional piracy, and staying ahead of those who are trying to hunt him down, Frey figures he can survive until old age. Until opportunity knocks. Frey is given a chance to move to the big time. One pirate venture, carefully set up, can give him enough money to retire--even if he pays off his crew. But when the job turns sour, all of a sudden, Frey and his crew have nowhere to hide.
RETRIBUTION FALLS feels a lot like the wonderful TV series, Firefly. There's the bitter and venial captain, the mysterious passenger with his more mysterious secret cargo, the deadly navigator, the dusty frontier towns where the renegade ship has a chance to smuggle an occasional illicit cargo, and the vastly powerful forces bent on tracking down the renegades. If you think, Firefly meets Steampunk, you won't be far off.
It's tough to live up to Firefly, but author Chris Wooding makes a pretty good run at it. While we initially have little sympathy for Frey and his crew, as their difficulties mount, it's hard not to root for them to survive what seem to be impossible odds. Frey's increasing sense of being part of a whole rather than an isolated victim resonated. I would have liked Frey to come to terms with how he's treated women--both in the past and in the story.
Wooding creates an intriguing world of scheming politicians, low-life pirates, and misguided magic. I'll definitely keep my eyes open for more by Chris Wooding.
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