- File Size: 1031 KB
- Print Length: 367 pages
- Publication Date: January 3, 2020
- Sold by: Amazon.com Services LLC
- Language: English
- ASIN: B083H294J5
- Text-to-Speech: Enabled
- Word Wise: Enabled
- Lending: Enabled
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #331,150 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
The Empress of the Clouds Kindle Edition
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The 19th century is drawing to a close as a burst of new technology and invention sweeps across the land, even to Joplin, Missouri, a boom town known as much for its lawlessness as its rich ore deposits. The heroine of the tale is Evaline "Evvy" Amstel, who is newly widowed and who inherits considerable dept and a struggling airship company. Evvy confronts the treat of financial ruin by learning to pilot the airships herself, while at the same time she tries to find out who killed her husband and to learn why so many mysterious foreigners of low character are descending on her small town. What she learns is that a vast conspiracy is afoot, aimed at the destruction of the government of the United States.
What I Liked:
This is a fast-paced page turner, rich in detail and with an interesting cast of characters. Editing is pretty good, and the technology described is mostly credible and appropriate to the time period. Obviously, much research on the part of the author has enabled her to create a tale that seems credible, even if far fetched. I am not sure what exactly defines a steam-punk novel, unless it has to have a lot of steam engines puffing away. If that is key, then this is definitely steam-punk.
The depth of the characters is a strong point. The major players seem like real people with strengths and weaknesses, hopes, and fears. These include Evvy, herself, and the town deputy Sean McTavish, as well as Evvy's step-daughter, Bet. Even Evvy's late husband, Heins Amstel, becomes a well-defined (posthumous) character, as well. This is a clean read. There were adult situations, but nothing overly descriptive or graphic.
What I Did Not Like:
I did not particularly like the ending. I can't explain why without giving away spoilers, but the reader will see what I mean, I think. The villains seemed to all be pretty much the same malignant thug of one sort or another, though the chief villain, comes across more as an evil genius than a thug. More could have been done with them; they were adequate, at best. There were a few comma and grammatical errors, but not many.
There was mention of a pack of coyotes pulling down a buck deer in Indiana or thereabouts. Sorry, but this does not ring true. This is very untypical coyote behavior, and there would have been few, if any coyotes in this area in 1900. The whole incident should be deleted, as it is an obvious error and adds nothing to the plot. The author also mentions firing from the "butt" of the rifle. And another non-sequitur was a mention of firing a six-shooter until the "barrel was empty." The author should have said "cylinder" not barrel. I should mention that at the last, Deputy McTavish was armed with two Colt .45s but somehow it never occurred to him to use them. There were other unclear sentences that cry out for revision, but these are enough to get the idea.
This is an exciting tale and with the help of a good editor, it could be turned into a first class novel. I think the average reader will probably not notice the flaws, and will find it to be excellent entertainment. It is worthy of a 4-Star rating.
At the time, the world was bristling with a seemingly endless flow of new ideas, scientific achievements and technological advancements. Society was fast changing in order to keep abreast of these advancements. With reference to many of the people, places and events that actually took place around the turn of the century (including the Great Airship Mystery of 1896), the author has done an excellent job of weaving historical fact into this work of fiction. The story is well rooted in the science and sensibilities of its time. Therefore the technology outlined in the story may at first seem fanciful yet remains wholly plausible for the period in which it is set.
The characters and settings feel very real. The story moves forward with realistic logic without the use of sudden surprises or events to explain anything away, a welcome relief from that overused device that often insults the reader’s intelligence. The actions of the characters always feel true to the reality in which they find themselves. The heroes of the story are real people. They have faults, they have fears, they make mistakes. But they take action because they must and they do the best they can with the talents they have and a sheer determination to do right by the world. That means putting a stop to a mega-maniacal villain, bent on righting what he sees as a monumental injustice, no matter who he hurts or the damage he does in the process.
“The Empress of the Clouds” is the best book I have come across in years. If only all stories were so well thought out and progressed in such a believable and satisfying way. I thoroughly enjoyed spending time in the world the author has crafted. I highly recommend this book to anyone who loves to lose themselves in a well written story. Drama, mystery, history, thrills, there is something here for just about everyone.