The Ace of Skulls by Chris Wooding
“All good things come to an end. And this is it: the last stand of the Ketty Jay and her intrepid crew. They've been shot down, set up, double-crossed and ripped off. They've stolen priceless treasures, destroyed a ten-thousand-year-old Azryx city and sort-of-accidentally blew up the son of the Archduke. Now they've gone and started a civil war. This time, they're really in trouble.
As Vardia descends into chaos, Captain Frey is doing his best to keep his crew out of it. He's got his mind on other things, not least the fate of Trinica Dracken. But wars have a way of dragging people in, and sooner or later they're going to have to pick a side. It's a choice they'll be staking their lives on. Cities fall and daemons rise. Old secrets are uncovered and new threats revealed. When the smoke clears, who will be left standing?”
Being a newcomer to this series, I was immediately taken by this books strong setting and its well-conceived world. There is an immediacy and urgency to proceedings, and I was soon invested in each character's fate. I thoroughly enjoyed the way the crew interacted with each other, particularly the use of sardonic humour and squabbling.
Captain Frey is the archetypal anti-hero: ambiguous, scheming and self-serving. It made a refreshing change to have a central character behave, well, like on of us. Too often in fantasy literature we have people always doing the right thing and acting nobly; here, there is no book of ethics and no rules, just survival and lots of sharp-tongued banter.
The story boasts plenty of action and incident, with the pacing spot on. Ancient civilizations are nicely juxtaposed with technology, so too is the corporeal with the supernatural. Chris Wooding allows his imagination plenty of free rein, and is clearly having a lot of fun in the telling of his story.
Against the backdrop of a Steampunk world, we have romance, horror and a surrogate family in the form of the crew of the Ketty Jay. There really is a minefield for them to navigate, and thanks to the break-neck, desperation of the action there is never a dull moment. This epic final instalment makes it clear that a big game is finally being played out; there is no certainty who will be left standing at the end. There are consequences, loss, regret and remorse.
The Ace of Skulls is a soaring, good old-fashioned, rip-roaring adventure. Fans of Steampunk and fantasy in general, are sure to enjoy this; Wooding has demonstrated a fine grasp of what makes for solid adventure and thrills.
The Ace of Skulls by Chris Wooding
Published 2013 by Gollancz
This The Ace of Skulls book review was written by Daniel Cann
All reviews for Chris Wooding's Tales of the Ketty Jay
Tales of the Ketty Jay: Book 1
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 airsh...
The Ace of Skulls
Tales of the Ketty Jay: Book 4
All good things come to an end. And this is it: the last stand of the Ketty Jay and her intrepid crew. They've been shot down, set up, double-crossed and ripped off. Th...
Have you read The Ace of Skulls?
We've found that while readers like to know what we think of a book they find additional reader reviews a massive help in deciding if it is the right book for them. So if you have a spare moment, please tell us your thoughts by writing a reader's review. Thank you.
The Ace of Skulls reader reviews
Jake from UK
Stealing priceless artefacts, discovering long lost cities, accidently killing the Archduke's son and kind-of starting a huge civil-war. Now everything Captain Fray and his crew have discovered, fought and exposed is going to collide together and Fray, despite all his best efforts, is going to be right in the middle of it. The Ace of Skulls has a lot to wrap up with the previous instalments creating enough content for a long and enduring series, but instead there are many different story lines that have to conclude. This means that at times the book does feel a little rushed and undetailed. However this book is a rush, the characters sprint to and from enemyies, constantly engaging in mid-sky dogfights or ground level shootouts, it’s quite literally none stop. Chapter after chapter of the Ace of Skulls is devoted to explosive, bullet spraying battles and shadowy, telepathic engagements. You will be on the edge of your seat and then clinging to pillows. Amongst all the action you continue to learn and love the Ketty Jay’s hap-hazard gang of ex aristocrats, slaves and witty rebels throughout. This time round Fray is trying to pick the right side to fight for all while not trying to fight at all, with the help of such friends as the century knights and of course Tracina Dracen they might just survive. Much like previous books the Ketty Jay takes you across vast landscapes and beautiful cities, low life bars and 100 acre manors. Despite some sad moments and some big casualties the book ends, after all the fighting, on a high. You may find yourself a little out of breath but you will be smiling.
8.3/10 from 2 reviews
Write a reader review
Thank you for taking the time to write a reader review for The Ace of Skulls by Chris Wooding; it really helps other readers find that perfect next read. Kindly enter your name, country and review below and click the 'Submit your review' button to send.
More recommended reading in this genre
Mortal Engines Quartet
Long before the days of Mortal Engines, London is poised on the brink of apocalypse. Huge armoured fortresses are advancing across the wastelands - a new and terrifying kin...
The Hod King
Thomas Senlin and his crew of outcasts have been separated, and now they must face the dangers of the labyrinthine tower on their own in this third book in the word...
Gareth L Powell
In 1944, as waves of German ninjas parachute into Kent, Britain’s best hopes for victory lie with a Spitfire pilot codenamed ‘Ack-Ack Macaque’. The troubl...
Captain Nemo: The Fantastic Adventures of a Dark Genius
Kevin J Anderson
The young Verne and his best friend Andre Nemo stow away on a ship bound for the high seas, but Jules' father catches Jules and forces him to come home in total disgrac...
In Dark Service
Jacob Carnehan has settled down. He's living a comfortable, quiet life, obeying the law and minding his own business while raising his son Carter ... on those occasions...
Art and his family are invited on a fantastic free holiday to the exotic Asteroid Belt, in a remote part of space near Mars. Taking the train, they arrive to discover that ...
A Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences
Pip Ballantine and Tee Morris
Evil is most assuredly afoot - and Britain’s fate rests in the hands of an alluring renegade... and a librarian. These are dark days indeed in Victoria’s Englan...
Grandville Mon Amour
The beefy badger DI Archie LeBrock is languishing in self-pity, driven to drink (as every good copper should be) by the guilt of Sarah’s murder. When his partner, Rod...
The Steampunk Adventurer's Guide
Bringing together an action-filled story full of automatons, airships and a dastardly plot to take over the world and instructions on how to make your own gadgets, The Stea...
Looking for more suggestions? Try these pages: