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Dawn of Steam: First Light Kindle Edition
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Dawn of Steam: First Light produces the perspective of one Gregory Conan Watts, former aide-de-camp turned photographer and chronicler of adventures. The story is related to us via his journals, letters to his employer, and letters to his sweetheart, Cordelia. The story hinges on a gentlemanly wager, dearest readers. A wager! How innocuous. Alas, the wager between two Lords was made, and the game afoot. The crux of the matter? Whether or not a certain Doctor Bowe had or had not made an honest accounting of his time while traveling the world-prior to the arrival of the dirigible, natch! Each Lord supplied a party to venture forth via dirigible –which unfortunately had their inception shortly after Dr. Bowe’s journeys– to substantiate (or not!) Dr. Bowe’s claims.
Dawn of Steam: First Light recounts the beginning of the journey, to include the acquisition of assorted persons deemed essential for the party… the aforementioned Mr. Watts, Sir James Coltrane, owner of the dirigible Dame Fortuna and leader of the expedition, his sister Miss Jillian Coltrane, socialite extraordinaire, their American cousin, a Scottish sharpshooter, an Italian magician of dubious character & his lovely half-Romany associate, and the knife-wielding daughter of Doctor Bowe. Also worth mentioning, dear readers, are a mechanical suit of considerable size and substance, and a positively sociable ornithopter named Bub. Once all the appropriate pieces are assembled, the journey begins in earnest.
I wouldn’t dream of spoiling the surprise for you, dearest readers… suffice it to say that there is sufficient excitement and intrigue to keep one turning the page, and though it may be slow going at the start the finale is well worth the effort. The interactions between the characters appear genuine, and each character has their own interesting backstory and subplot, of which we only scratch the surface, dear readers! As you recall, this is the first of a series and is meant to be read as a whole, thus pieces of the puzzle not integral to the main plot are left for the next book.
I found the writing style to be most pleasing and reminiscent of those early pioneers in the science-fiction adventure genre. The language used is of a more elevated variety, and may be off-putting to some readers not accustomed to this technique. It should be noted that the author’s voice is very distinct and remains consistent throughout the story, with slight deviations to account for changes in narration. The editing is also worth noting, as I like to call attention to a job well done; few to no errors spotted and nothing so egregious as to snatch you right out of the story! Dearest readers, if you are looking to explore the very roots of steampunk with an adventure of epic scope, this is the read for you.
The story is told mainly in journal entries and letters from Gregory Conan Watts, a war journalist who is part of one of the crews undertaking the journey. He has been hired on to write the story of the journey as it unfolds. We read his journal entries, as well as letters to both his employer and his fiancee. Occasionally, there is a letter from one of the other members of the crew. The entire collection is being published by Gregory's wife after his death.
It wasn't a bad book. In fact, there were a lot of good elements to it. The characters were varied and made quite the interesting dynamic for the voyage. There were secrets, personal agendas, and both good and bad relationships. The settings were true to the period, including the Year Without a Summer (1815). Customs, standards, and speech were all true to upper British society in the period. The steampunk elements added to the mix were believable. The book starts a bit slow, with the early journal entries and letters a bit tedious in spots, but after the crew is set and the actual voyage begins, things pick up a bit. The ending leaves the way open nicely for the sequels.
The problem I have with this one is the format. I couldn't really get into the epistolary format. It felt distant, as if I was being removed from the action and just a passive observer. That made it difficult for me to truly get invested in any of the characters or the story. It also tended to slow the plot in spots. It's an interesting idea, and seems to be done well here, but it wasn't my favorite form for storytelling.
Still, the idea of the story is good, the details are genuine to the time period, and the additional elements make this a good example of a steampunk novel. If you don't mind the format, this book should not disappoint.
In the first book to the Steampunk series, Dawn of Light, Gregory Watts is charged,along with Elliot Toomes, to assemble a prepicked team to settle a gentleman's wager. The team includes the war hero James Coltrane and sharpshooter Edward McBride. Along with the rest of the team, they are to find out if the claims made by Doctor Robert Bowe in his personal journals was possible for a man to accomplish. The territories he claims to have visited and the people he saw have been largely undocumented by 1815 society and to many it is debatable on whether or not he actually accomplished these feats.
Hence the gentleman's wager.
What Mr. Watts and his team are soon to find out though, is that their opponents will stop at nothing to get ahead. Literally.
This is a great steampunk book if you are unaccustomed to the genre. It is easy to read, although it does follow the descriptive stylings of that time period, and does not throw too much at you where you are going "steam cog piece gun what now?" I am looking forward to continuing this series.
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