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Romulus Buckle & the City of the Founders by…
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Romulus Buckle & the City of the Founders

by Richard Ellis Preston Jr.

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: The Chronicles of the Pneumatic Zeppelin (1)

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Showing 5 of 5
Bah, it was ok but not much more. Here's the thing, the writing seemed fine but everything was waaaaaay over described and nothing of significance really happened. Don't get me wrong, things blew up, the air ship almost crashed like 400 times, people ran around and said droll things, but in terms of an overall story arc it didn't really show up until about page 350. Yes, the leaders had been kidnapped and the crew was rescuing them, but that's not really much of a plot as presented here. It's just an excuse to be off doing things.

So, even though I checked this out of my local library along with the sequel, I'm returning them both. I'm not going to bother with the second book. I'm just not interested enough and I have a strong suspicion that, if it takes 350 pages to finally present the real plot in this book, it's probably the same in book two, which means I'll likely finish it little more satisfied than I am now. It's just not worth it to me. ( )
  SadieSForsythe | Feb 24, 2016 |
I'm on the third of ten discs and already beginning to lose enthusiasm, so I came to read other reviews and I'm not heartened at all. Too much that is improbable and not well explicated, too much detailed descriptors of nonsense steampunk devices, not enough story engagement. ( )
  2wonderY | Nov 12, 2014 |
Preston’s great strength, perhaps honed in his career as a screenwriter, is his ability to evoke and describe the physical details of a scene, its characters, land, atmosphere, and, of course, the brass fittings and leather clothes and steam engines of steampunk.

The details of this world are interesting. It is the “Snow World”, Earth about 300 hundred years after an invasion by aliens, dubbed “Martians” but they aren’t really from Mars) which left Earth with large obelisks of indestructible material and no electricity. In the ruins of Los Angeles, it has even left a permanent cloud of poison gas. Man has reverted to small clans built around professions: (the Crankshafts, merchants that Captain Romulus Buckle belongs to; the Alchemists, engineers of steam powered robots and other things; the Imperials who built the main character of the story, the airship Pneumatic Zeppelin.

And, while it’s still ludicrous, Preston’s steampunk technology is less ludicrous than that of a lot of other steampunk stories. This is something of a naval adventure with detailed descriptions of the airship and, when necessary, its repair. Essentially, the plot involves the rescue of Crankshaft leader Balthazar from imprisonment in the City of Founders, a clan living under the ruins of Los Angeles.

We get a traditional start to the story with detailed background and descriptions of the Pneumatic Zeppelin and its crew, mostly in their ‘teens and twenties. There’s handsome Romulus, half-Martian and Chief Engineer Max, and fiery Chief Navigator Sabrina. Preston does a good job with his many combat scenes on land and air.

However, for such a long story, the plot offers few surprises. We pretty much suspect where Preston will be taking us in future books. Max and Buckle, both adopted by Balthazar, will develop a romantic attraction. The fight between Smelt of the Imperials, who thinks Buckle broke a treaty and stole the Pneumatic Zeppelin, and Buckle, who thinks the Imperials broke a treaty and launched an attack on the Crankshafts, is a war engineered by the Imperials. The mysteries Preston offers as an incentive to pick up future books aren’t that many. What exactly happened to Elizabeth, Buckle’s sister? What is Sabrina’s secret past in the City of the Founders? What is the origin of Lady Andromeda’s strange charisma? And the suspense of the probable war between the Founders and everyone else (assuming they can put aside their differences and unite) isn’t that great.

Still, if you really like the physical aesthetics of steampunk – those steam engines and clothes – you might want to pick this one up. ( )
1 vote RandyStafford | Dec 22, 2013 |
Three stars but Failed to meet my expectations. The characters were interesting, the world building was great, but the problem was the story jumped right into the acttion way too fast before developing any of the plot or characters before hand which didn't leave any potential for buildup of interest. Midway through I was feeling ready for this to end despite liking the characters involved.

My hope is that the sequel will be a lot better. ( )
  capiam1234 | Aug 30, 2013 |
I got a copy of this book to review through the Amazon Vine program. This is the first book in The Chronicles of the Pneumatic Zeppelin series. I love steampunk books and was excited to read this one. Unfortunately I ended up not finishing it, it was just too hard to read and I could not stay engaged in the story.

Captain Romulus Buckle and his crew are taking their ship, the Pneumatic Zeppelin, on a mission to rescue their leader Balthazar Crankshaft. Their mission leads them across lands devastated by some alien war that has left the Earth in a post-apocalyptic mess.

I ended up getting about 1/3 of the way through this book before I decided it was time to set it aside. It was just so hard to read and I was absolutely not at all interested in it. Rather than being sucked into the story, I constantly felt like this book was trying to push me away from the story (if that makes any sense at all)...I constantly had to force myself to engage with this book.

The book throws a plethora of characters at you from the get-go. All of them are hard to picture and engage with. They all seem like interesting characters when they are introduced, but you bounce between them so quickly that it is hard to get a good grasp on the characters’ personalities.

A big problem with this book is how it is parsed into such tiny chapters and how each chapter bounces between different character POVs. Just as soon as I felt like I was actually engaging in the story, then suddenly that chapter was over and we were onto another character's perspective of the battle. Many of the chapters are only a couple pages long. It really fractured the story and made it hard to follow and engage with.

The book is also very wordy with a ton of description that doesn't really help to describe the settings or what is going on. For example nearly a page is spent describing Buckle's clothing, but no explanation is given as to how/why Buckle has to plug his hat into his ship. In fact all of the characters plug their hats into the ship but we really never find out why (at least not in the first third of the book).

The story goes basically from one action scene to another, the action scenes alternate with these scenes of long description. The action scenes are not all that well written and I had trouble figuring out exactly what was going on. I felt like the pacing and plot was just a jumbled mess.

The writing also flowed very poorly, I constantly had to go back and re-read portions of the story because I missed something. Not to mention somehow despite all of the action scenes the story was boring.... You know how some books just suck you in and suddenly you’ve read 100 pages and you don’t know how that happened because you are just so absolutely drawn into the story? Well this book was the opposite. I would sit there reading and realize that I was still on the same page I was on 10 minutes ago...reading and re-reading the same paragraph and trying to figure out exactly what was going on.

Anyway, I really really disliked this book and will not be finishing it. I just have too many other good books to read. I can say that reading this book was truly an epic struggle for me.

Overall not a good read and not recommended. If you want to read some good military based steampunk check out Cherie Priest’s Clockwork Century series instead. ( )
  krau0098 | Apr 30, 2013 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Richard Ellis Preston Jr.primary authorall editionscalculated
Daniels, LukeNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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In a post-apocalyptic world of endless snow, Captain Romulus Buckle and the stalwart crew of the Pneumatic Zeppelin must embark on a perilous mission to rescue their kidnapped leader, Balthazar Crankshaft, from the impenetrable City of the Founders. Steaming over a territory once known as Southern California--before it was devastated in the alien war--Buckle navigates his massive airship through skies infested with enemy war zeppelins and ravenous alien beasties in this swashbuckling and high-octane steampunk adventure. Life is desperate in the Snow World--and death is quick-- Buckle and his ship's company must brave poisoned wastelands of noxious mustard and do battle with forgewalkers, steampipers and armored locomotives as they plunge from the skies into the underground prison warrens of the fortress-city. Captain Romulus Buckle must lead the Pneumatic Zeppelin and its crew of never-do-wells on a desperate mission where he must risk everything to save Balthazar and attempt to prevent a catastrophic war which could wipe out all that is left of civilization and the entire human race.… (more)

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