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Dawn of Steam: First Light Kindle Edition
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|Length: 303 pages||Word Wise: Enabled||Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled|
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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.
Dawn of Steam: First Light starts very gradually. That, combined with my unfamiliarity, did make the beginning of the book a slow read. That and a slight struggle at the beginning for the author to find a clear voice is the only reason for four stars rather than five. I'd give 4 1/2 if I could.
The book picks up speed at the same place as it picks up companions; by the time Sam comes on the scene, I was quite ready for a hero. Without spoiling the plot, I can say the book more than provides heroes, villains, scares, and intrigue. I wanted to be on that journey, but at least found a kindred spirit to make the trip for me.
Impressively, the book does not whitewash events or attitudes of the time, but incorporates them in such a way that I found myself sympathetic. I am looking forward to continuing the journey in the second book of the series.
For anyone struggling through the first few chapters, I encourage patience. This book is more than worth the slow start.
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