Retribution Falls by Chris Wooding

One of the best Steampunk novels, a highly enjoyable and FUN read.
Retribution Falls book cover

Dorian Frey is the roguish captain of the Ketty Jay and leader of a small and highly dysfunctional group of layabouts. Frey and his gang run contraband, rob airships and generally make a nuisance of themselves, all the while avoiding the Coalition Navy frigates.

Retribution Falls begins the tales of the Ketty Jay, its captain Dorian Freyand his uniquely talented crew of misfits. Dorian Frey’s Ketty Jay is a hugely battered old freighter which just about runs. Frey keeps accepting jobs for himself and his crew in the hope of a big pay cheque. His current job turns out to be too good to be true. Suddenly Frey and his crew are running from the Navy Coalition and hired bounty hunters, as he is set up to take the fall after a freighter he is chasing explodes. Dorian Frey must outwit them all to prove his innocence and catch the real culprits....

If any book can be given its own genre then this would surely fall under the heading of FUN. Dorian Frey is a typically roguish character and I was reminded of Sawyer from LOST. Well at least that was who I visualised him to be. Frey is a womanising drunken gambler, who is addicted to a card game called Rake. He will seek out any opportunity to play this game and often finds a game even though he is being relentlessly pursued.

Frey and the dysfunctional crew seem to go from one scrape to the next in an everlasting series of chases. The crew are also a wonderfully drawn motley bunch and the characters are great, varied and loveable. They all bring something unique to the story and provide the book with depth and impetus. Their motivations are revealed and we are able to fully sympathise with this band of cut-throats.

The pace is mostly frenetic and fast paced. Occasionally the book slows, but picks up as there is always some event around the corner waiting to erupt. Wooding has an engaging style and I was often reminded of an Eighties film called Ice Pirates. The world of Vardia also provides an atmospheric setting and is a highly imaginative and evocative world.  There is also an interesting blend of magic thrown in and some weird and supernatural occurrences for good measure.

All in all a highly enjoyable and FUN read. It is light hearted and alongside Phillip Pullman’s superlative Dark Materials trilogy this is one of the best Steampunk novels out there. It is the beginning of a projected series by Wooding and these books also look to be stand-alone too. Well worth a read if you want fun and an exciting ride on the Vardia skies.

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Retribution Falls reader reviews

from Canada


This was an amazingly good read. From the first chapter you are invested in the characters and you are sitting on the edge of your feet. What really got me the most was how I was able to sympathize with a bunch of low life pirates. And for me, liking characters is something not very common for a book that hasn't received much from the media.

9.5/10 from 2 reviews

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