Romulus Buckle & The Engines of War

The steampunk series concludes with this retro review from January 10, 2014.

This book, like the first Romulus Buckle novel, came to me via Amazon’s Vine program.

Review: Romulus Buckle & The Engines of War, Richard Ellis Preston, Jr., 2013.Romulus Buckle

I’ll admit I approached this book more out of duty than desire. I had already committed to reviewing it before I had even read the proceeding Romulus Buckle & The City of the Founders.

I found this one more enjoyable and better paced since Preston had gotten the introduction of most of the main characters out of the way in the first book. We also got the long descriptions of the Pneumatic Zeppelin, center of most of the action, out of the way there. You will need that description, though, so the first book can’t really be skipped.

To be sure, Captain Romulus Buckle’s undergoing the expected romantic confusion of new attraction to his sisters Max and Sabrina. (No, there’s no creepy incest vibe here. All three are orphan adoptees of Balthazar Crankshaft but unrelated to each other by blood.) Max and Sabrina are also struggling with new feelings – and their unacknowledged expressions of them however – towards Romulus. And, yes, the Founder clan has been covertly instigating war between the other clans.

But Preston opens his world of the series in unexpected ways. To be sure, we get two nifty set piece battles with alien critters. We also get a very Age of Sail type naval battle between airships – complete with snipers in the rigging. An intriguing automaton character is revealed. New clans and their cities are introduced. Valkyrie Smelt, beautiful and haughty daughter of Katzenjammer Smelt (yes, Preston’s names are amusing at times), becomes an officer aboard Buckle’s ship. Max begins to be obsessed with the legendary Martian Equation of Immortality which she encounters in an unlikely place.

So, this story had enough of the unexpected, enough mystery and steampunk touches (in particular that automaton), that I will unbegrudingly follow Mr. Buckle’s further adventures.

 

More reviews of fantastic fiction are indexed by title and author/editor.

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