Sunday, May 10, 2015

I read a steampunk book and I think I liked it.

I have an ambivalent relationship with the steampunk genre.  I love the whole look of it--the two decades straddling the turn of the last century have a great aesthetic.  But as a gamer I don't find the idea of gaming there very interesting.  For me it's really all about the visuals of steampunk.

But I picked up a book a little while ago on a whim and finally got around to reading it.  The Court of Air by Stephen Hunt is set in a fantasy version of late 19th century England, with other fantasy surrogate nations nearby.  And we've got airships, gear-work people, fey magic, druid-y earth magic, clock-work computers, and ancient lost cities in the mix.  But it also has some weird elements like kings who get their arms amputated for their coronation, and creepy human transformation bio-engineering.  It starts out pretty well, with two protagonists from miserable backgrounds who turn out to be a complementary pair of heroes pulled into a massive plot to destroy the world.

But that's where it sort of fell down for me.  The first half or so of the book is solid steampunk, just the sort of thing I was looking for.  I was in the groove for mystery, murder, intrigue, and cool bits of fey and clockwork spicing things up.  But then it spins into a rather over-the-top massive war with ancient evil gods and stuff.  The shift in the latter part of the book kind of threw me off.

But overall a good read.

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