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The Court of the Air by Stephen Hunt
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The Court of the Air

by Stephen Hunt

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
1,036478,148 (3.17)1 / 73
  1. 10
    The Glass Books of the Dream Eaters by Gordon Dahlquist (RocknRain)
  2. 10
    The Difference Engine by William Gibson (rakerman)
    rakerman: Babbage's Difference Engines reimagined as the steam-powered transaction engines of The Court of the Air
  3. 00
    Iron Angel by Alan Campbell (hairball)
  4. 00
    Steampunk by Ann VanderMeer (graspingforthewind)
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A note to anyone looking to pick up this book for the first time - make sure when you're reading, you devote your whole attention to it. Don't pick it up for five minutes at a time, and don't be distracted. Or else you will never quite pick up the drift of this odd story.

While it has an interesting premise, the complex land of Jackals, its inhabitants and its surrounds were poorly presented, details given rapidly and at random opportunities, leaving the reader to infer the background of the story as well as they can. The two young heros around which this story revolves meet only once in the entire book, more than 300 pages in. I found it strange that the two characters crucial to the plot have very little knowledge of each other. I also found it difficult to believe that the two worldly, well spoken and clued in orphans were only around 11 or 12 years old.

Also - I got very sick of reading the words 'the disreputable Stave'. There are other adjectives, Hunt.

2.5 stars. ( )
  crashmyparty | Dec 9, 2014 |
Definitely needs a few explanations of some words which the author has made up.... ( )
  Moonlightfaery | Nov 25, 2014 |
I wouldn't really call this steampunk, but I enjoyed it a lot. ( )
  MikeRhode | Sep 26, 2014 |
Stephen Hunt's first Jackelian novel is a big, overstuffed steampunk classic -- a Jules Verne/Charles Dickens/H.P. Lovecraft mashup -- filled with political intrigue, steam powered devices and strange magic. It's a little confusing at first, but hang in there. You don't have to understand the machines or memorize who all the political players are. That will become clear enough over the course of the book.

The two key characters are Molly Templar, the plucky workhouse girl who finds herself on the run from a dapper gentleman assassin, and Oliver Brooks, the privileged but constrained nephew of a wealthy merchant. Oliver is suspected of being 'feybreed' and therefore monitored and forbidden from pursuing a normal life.

After their respective lives are turned upside down, Molly and Oliver go on the lam. Molly is aided by the steammen -- a race of mechanical beings for whom she has a special affinity. Oliver joins up with the dubious ex-con, Harry Stave.

Meanwhile, the political landscape of Jackals is shifting behind the scenes with betrayals and new alliances. Something very dark is coming and Molly and Oliver are the only ones who can stop it.

The first in a series of novels set in the rich and colorful Kingdom of Jackals featuring airships, magic, fabulous machines and Lovecraftian horror. ( )
  keeba | Oct 22, 2013 |
I read somewhere that this series is like a George R. R. Martin take on steampunk, and I found that to be pretty apt. I'm a fast reader, and this book took me two weeks to get through. I enjoyed it, but it's incredibly convoluted and complex and more than once I struggled to remember who was who amidst the rival nations, political factions, and perspectives.

This is pretty much hardcore steampunk. The technology is integral to the world. There's an entire race of mechanical men, and I found them to be one of the most delightful aspects of the book; they have their own distinct religion, way of speaking, and are just cool beyond description. This doesn't take place on Earth, but in a setting heavily inspired by Victorian England, and the voice has that appropriate feel (though I can see how some people would find it dense and frustrating). Magic is as important as the technology. Fey magic, wild as it is, causes terrible mutations. The marriage of magic and machine creates a wide open world as far as technology and plot surprises.

The book follows more viewpoints than Molly and Oliver, though they are certainly the two most important characters. If anything, my complaint is that they feel too powerful at times, especially Oliver.

In true steampunk form, the mood here is dark. As in, dark and flooding basement filled with man-eating spiders. It's luscious and intense, and the action is near constant. The ending is very long, and as a reader, somewhat exhausting because of the prolonged tension. I think that's one of the reasons it took me so long to finish. I could only read for short stints and then I had to rest. ( )
  ladycato | Jul 12, 2013 |
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Thanks where thanks are due. You know who you are.
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Molly Templar sat dejected by the loading platform of the Handsome Lane laundry.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0765360225, Mass Market Paperback)

When streetwise Molly Templar witnesses a brutal murder at the brothel she has recently been apprenticed to, her first instinct is to run back to the poorhouse where she grew up. But there she finds her fellow orphans butchered, and it slowly dawns on her that she was the real target of the attack. For Molly is a special little girl, and she carries a secret that marks her out for destruction by enemies of the state.

Oliver Brooks has led a sheltered existence in the backwater home of his merchant uncle. But when he is framed for his only relative's murder he is forced to flee for his life, accompanied by an agent of the mysterious Court of the Air. Chased across the country, Oliver finds himself in the company of thieves, outlaws and spies, and gradually learns more about the secret that has blighted his life.

Soon Molly and Oliver will find themselves battling a grave threat to civilization, an ancient power thought to have been quelled millennia ago. Their enemies are ruthless and myriad, but the two orphans are also aided by indomitable friends in this endlessly inventive tale full of drama, intrigue, and adventure.

The Court of the Air is a rollicking adventure set in a fantastical Dickensian clockwork universe that will appeal to fans of Susanna Clarke and Philip Pullman.

 

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:22:02 -0400)

Streetwise Molly witnesses a brutal murder at the brothel where she has recently been apprenticed and runs back to the poorhouse where she grew up. There she finds her fellow orphans butchered, and it dawns on her that she was the real target of the attack. For Molly is a special little girl who carries a secret that marks her for destruction by enemies of the state. Oliver has led a sheltered existence in the backwater home of his merchant uncle. When he is framed for his only relative's murder he is forced to flee for his life, accompanied by an agent of the mysterious Court of the Air. Chased across the country, Oliver finds himself in the company of low-life rogues, but learns more about the secret that has blighted his life. Soon Molly and Oliver will find themselves battling a grave threat to civilization, an ancient power thought to have been quelled millennia ago.… (more)

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