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Retribution Falls by Chris Wooding
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Retribution Falls (2009)

by Chris Wooding

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Tales of the Ketty Jay (1)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
5043920,201 (3.78)79
  1. 40
    Serenity: Those Left Behind by Joss Whedon (Jannes)
    Jannes: Retribution falls is, for better or worse, essentially Firefly/Serenity in steampunk drag.
  2. 30
    The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch (majkia)
    majkia: outsiders, thieves, heists, pirates
  3. 00
    Rivers of London by Ben Aaronovitch (Alliebadger)
  4. 00
    Mortal Engines by Philip Reeve (Jannes)
    Jannes: Airships and high adventure in a post-apocalyptic and retrofuturistic word. Also: air pirates.
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English (37)  French (2)  All languages (39)
Showing 1-5 of 37 (next | show all)
Airships, pirates, treasure, double crossings and a fabled pirate city...this book has it and more!

Chris Wooding has given us a fun steampunk adventure in Retribution Falls. A classic plot of a hapless crew set up to be the fall guys in an assassination. You have the jaded captain and his crew of men (and one woman) who are all running or hiding from the pasts. Their mission....prove their innocence. This is where the fun begins!

The story did seem to drag in the beginning and I was about to put it down but decided to persevere. I'm glad I did. The plot and the pace of the novel does pick up about a third into the book. At this point Mr. Wooding shows the reader his expertise as a story teller.

The remainder of the book is filled with adventures wherein our hapless crew are put in various life or death situations. The author fosters this impression with fresh & lively prose.

There are a bunch of main and secondary characters in this story but of course it is focused upon the seven crew members and their back story. I liked all the characters. Wooding did not portray any of them as angels who had been given a bad break; they are all flawed with Captain Frey topping the list. However, his character is so richly written that you can't hope but root for him.

So with the exception of a slow beginning, this novel does take the reader on a fun and action packed adventure. ( )
  NancyNo5 | Jul 14, 2014 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Full disclosure: I received a review copy of this book as part of the LibraryThing Early Reviewers program.

At first glance, Retribution Falls by Chris Wooding sounded like a sure bet. Sky pirates? I’m there. Steampunk setting? Count me in. Endless rave reviews from a dozen fantastic authors (Joe Abercrombie in particular) sealed the deal. Unfortunately, the resulting book doesn’t quite live up to those high expectations.

Retribution Falls tells the story of a ship called the Ketty Jay, captained by one Darian Frey and crewed by a collection of misfits and rejects, all of whom are hiding secrets and running from something in their past. Frey is a paranoid, selfish drunk, who seems only to keep a crew so that he can run the jobs that pay for his drink, drugs and card games. Frey only really cares about his ship, and jealously guards the ignition codes from anyone and everyone, even when the life of one of his crew members is at stake in an early scene.

After escaping a close scrape at the start of the book, Frey’s luck seems to be looking up when he’s given a plum job with an assured payout of fifty thousand ducats. He eagerly accepts, and only when the job goes horribly wrong does it become clear that he’s been set up. The rest of the book is spent with Frey and his crew alternately running from the law and trying to unravel the mysterious conspiracy that chose Frey and his crew as its scapegoats. Along the way, Frey slowly learns to trust his crew members, and we begin to uncover some of the events that drove each of them into the outlaw life.

As I read, the book slowly grew on me, but it took a really long time getting there. I read the first one-hundred pages in fits and starts over a month, and only really started to feel invested around the two-hundred page point of the book, when we finally start getting a glimpse into the mysterious backstories of Crake, the ship’s daemonist, and Jez, the apparently immortal navigator.

However, it wasn’t so much that I was starting to like the characters; it was simply that I was curious enough about their backstories to keep reading. As a rule, the characters in Retribution Falls are archetypes that never quite rise above their origins. If you stick around long enough to make it to the end, they do become slightly more interesting and/or sympathetic. Unfortunately, far too much of the book is spent with unlikeable characters who only reveal questionable past actions, or ciphers who hold their mysteries (and personalities) too close to their chests.

One of the most glaring problems this book faces is its striking similarity to a certain late, lamented scifi/western TV series about a band of misfits running from the law in their ramshackle spaceship. You know how Amazon recommends similar products on their pages? Here it doesn’t quite apply. If you liked Firefly, you’ll probably have a hard time escaping unfavorable comparisons when reading this book. With better character development and more detailed world-building, Retribution Falls might have risen above such easy accusations of similarity, but as it is it reads more like a pale imitation of better things.

Strangely enough, despite the tone of this review, when I was done with the book I felt like I might be interested in reading another installment in this series, in the hopes that later volumes would tighten up the storytelling and better develop returning characters. Ultimately, the honest truth is that if this was a library book I probably would have returned it unfinished after reading fifty pages. I really only gave it a chance to redeem itself because it was a review copy. ( )
  unsquare | Feb 6, 2014 |
Darian Frey is a freebooter and small-time criminal whose most treasured possession is his airship, the Ketty Jay. His so-called "crew" is disorganized and questionably competent, and they all have something to hide. Crake, a daemonist whose magical skills have made him an outcast, is crumbling under the weight of a guilty consience. Jez, the new navigator, can't let anyone know about her mysterious secret abilities. The ship's doctor, Malvery, is a drunk, and outflier pilot Harkins has been completely traumatized by the Aerium Wars. Frey and his motley collection of renegades travel around taking odd jobs, but they barely make enough money to live on. That is, until Frey is presented with the opportunity of a lifetime: steal the cargo of a particular airship and receive fifty thousand ducats as payment. The offer seems too good to be true, and it is -- the target airship turns out to be carrying the heir to the Archduchy, who is killed when the Ketty Jay attacks. Now Frey and his crew are on the run, but Frey is determined to discover who set him up and why -- even if it means losing the freedom and detachment that are so precious to him.

This book, quite simply, was a ton of fun! I picked it up at a Borders going-out-of-business sale because the premise reminded me of "Firefly," and if you enjoy that type of space Western with a healthy dose of grim humor, I think you'll really enjoy this book! The plot is predictable but packed with action, and the pacing is great, but my favorite part of the book was definitely the characters. I really liked the way Frey was portrayed; he's definitely no hero -- selfish, misogynistic, irresponsible, and entitled -- but he does grow and change throughout the course of the novel. I loved the other characters too, particularly Crake and Jez, both of whom I'd like to learn a lot more about! I think one weakness of sci fi/fantasy/adventure novels is that they tend to make the characters too heroic or powerful right from the start. But in this book, nobody is a hero until (arguably) the very end; the characters actually develop throughout the book. For this reason, the book really exceeded my expectations, and I'm thrilled to discover that it's actually the first book in a series! It can be read as a stand-alone, but I will definitely be continuing to read about the Ketty Jay and its swashbuckling crew!
  christina_reads | Jan 6, 2014 |
I wasn't expecting this book to be good because I won it in a Goodreads contest. But to my utter surprise I really enjoyed the book. Like other people have said, if you enjoyed Joss Whedon's Firefly TV show, then there's a high probability that you will like this book. I like that it is an easy read and that there isn't 500 characters to keep track of. Although the cat isn't a major character I like how he is in there sporadically. I like the different personalities and how none of them are perfect. There are some really funny lines in the book but I don't want to give too much away. As I got towards the end of the book today I was wishing for a second book in a series. So I looked at Amazon and wouldn't you know there's a second book which I am totally going to get at some point (Now only if his books were available for the Kindle). All in all a fun read, give this book a chance if you like Science Fiction. I highly recommend it! ( )
  MerryMeerkat | Sep 26, 2013 |
I was pretty bored during the entire first third of this. I almost gave it up several times, just because it was taking me so long to dredge through it. I wasn't digging the plot or the characters, I just didn't think the premise was "my thing". Science fiction, sky pirates... Sounded weird to me. But I'm really glad I stuck with it. The characters grew on me, the plot stepped it up, and I got sucked in. Hell, I got so emotionally attached to the characters that I almost teared up in one spot. I'm not a crier when I read books, so almost tearing up is a pretty big deal.

The second third of it redeemed it from two stars to three stars.. But the last third? That bumped it to four. Hell, if it had gotten a better start it might have even got five stars from me! Where as it took me about five days to get through 30% of the book, I read the last 40% in a couple hours one day. I honestly didn't want to put it down!

One of the things I liked the most, and which pulled me into the story more and more as I read, were the individual crew members of the Ketty Jay and all of their stories. We get the stories one by one, and I'd find myself wondering and guessing and turning the pages just to find out more about them. And Frey himself was continuously revealed, layer by layer; I really like the way his character was developed.

As I mentioned, the plot starts off pretty slow. There's a lot of setup going on for the overall story being told, and it was pretty tedious to get through. But once the setup is done and the story is moving along, it moves pretty quickly and doesn't disappoint. It's definitely worth getting through all of the setup!

Four stars. Go get your read on, and if it doesn't catch you right away, give it some time. It'll get there.. It just needs time to grow on you. And once it does? So worth it. ( )
  breakofdawn | Jun 11, 2013 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Chris Woodingprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Martiniere, StephanCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0345522516, Paperback)

Sky piracy is a bit out of Darian Frey’s league. Fate has not been kind to the captain of the airship Ketty Jay—or his motley crew. They are all running from something. Crake is a daemonist in hiding, traveling with an armored golem and burdened by guilt. Jez is the new navigator, desperate to keep her secret from the rest of the crew. Malvery is a disgraced doctor, drinking himself to death. So when an opportunity arises to steal a chest of gems from a vulnerable airship, Frey can’t pass it up. It’s an easy take—and the payoff will finally make him a rich man.

But when the attack goes horribly wrong, Frey suddenly finds himself the most wanted man in Vardia, trailed by bounty hunters, the elite Century Knights, and the dread queen of the skies, Trinica Dracken. Frey realizes that they’ve been set up to take a fall but doesn’t know the endgame. And the ultimate answer for captain and crew may lie in the legendary hidden pirate town of Retribution Falls. That’s if they can get there without getting blown out of the sky.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 14:01:33 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

Frey is the captain of the Ketty Jay, leader of a small and highly dysfunctional band of layabouts. An inveterate womaniser and rogue, he and his gang make a living on the wrong side of the law, avoiding the heavily armed flying frigates of the Coalition Navy. With their trio of ragged fighter craft, they run contraband, rob airships and generally make a nuisance of themselves. So a hot tip on a cargo freighter loaded with valuables seems like a great prospect for an easy heist and a fast buck. Until the heist goes wrong, and the freighter explodes. Suddenly Frey isn't just a nuisance anymore - he's public enemy number one, with the Coalition Navy on his tail and contractors hired to take him down. But Frey knows something they don't. That freighter was rigged to blow, and Frey has been framed to take the fall. If he wants to prove it, he's going to have to catch the real culprit. He must face liars and lovers, dogfights and gunfights, Dukes and daemons. It's going to take all his criminal talents to prove he's not the criminal they think he is ...… (more)

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