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Agatha H. and the Airship City (Girl Genius Novels) [Hardcover]

Phil Foglio , Kaja Foglio
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)

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Book Description

4 Jan 2011 Girl Genius Novels (Book 12)
The Industrial Revolution has escalated into all-out warfare. It has been eighteen years since the Heterodyne Boys, benevolent adventurers and inventors, disappeared under mysterious circumstances. Today, Europe is ruled by the Sparks, dynasties of mad scientists ruling over — and terrorizing — the hapless population with their bizarre inventions and unchecked power, while the downtrodden dream of the Hetrodynes' return. At Transylvania Polygnostic University, a pretty, young student named Agatha Clay seems to have nothing but bad luck. Incapable of building anything that actually works, but dedicated to her studies, Agatha seems destined for a lackluster career as a minor lab assistant. But when the University is overthrown by the ruthless tyrant Baron Klaus Wulfenbach, Agatha finds herself a prisoner aboard his massive airship Castle Wulfenbach — and it begins to look like she might carry a spark of Mad Science after all.


Product details

  • Hardcover: 264 pages
  • Publisher: Night Shade Books (4 Jan 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1597802115
  • ISBN-13: 978-1597802116
  • Product Dimensions: 2.5 x 15.2 x 24.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 871,359 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The book of the comic 29 Mar 2011
Format:Hardcover
This is a a good well-paced novelization of an excellent comic; it doesn't really add anything new to the story, apart from a little extra characterization, but it was a fun read and I don't regret buying it.
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5.0 out of 5 stars The best!!! 1 July 2012
By Philda
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I love this book,i love Agatha and she is so clueless at the beginning it was sad and sweet. I love how scary she becomes when angry!!!Read this it's great. Then read the Graphic novels,they are the best.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.3 out of 5 stars  101 reviews
54 of 57 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Good first book, can't wait to read what comes next! 3 Jan 2011
By Amazon Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
OVERALL SCORE: A-

Overall, if you enjoy steampunk, adventure stories, science fiction or fantasy you should pick this up and is defintaelly a good read. I would give it a A- for a starting novel.

MY TAKE:
I enjoyed the book, I felt it was well writen for being an adaptation of the web-comic Girl Genius (which I am a fan of). The steampunk themed Europe the authors have dreamed up is amazing. They do a good job of describing the different steampunk inspired devices and enviornment without losing the reader in technical jargon that doesn't add anything to the book. The main characters are well developed, however there are a lot of supporting characters in this first novel that made an appearance that is going to be easy to lose track of in future books. The other drawback is that it seemed a bit short, however since I do read the webcomic I understand why they stopped where they did as it was a natural stopping point.

BREAKOUT:
World Building: A
They do a good job of building a unique steampunk world, solid A.

Plot/Story: A
This is the first book of the series, which introduces the world and the main character Agatha, it finished up the main plot of this story nicely and leaves a couple of sub-plots open that leave you wanting more, solid A.

Characters: B+
The main characters are portrayed very well, but as I mentioned above some of the supporting cast that was introduced who played only a small part in this book is going to be hard to remember, will be curious to see how the authors deal with this going forward, B+.

Length: B-
The length was disappoiting, again I know where they stopped where they did due to this being a retelling of the webcomic but would have liked to have seen it fleshed out a bit, maybe add some additional details about the world, B-.
46 of 48 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Second Look 6 Jan 2011
By Amazon Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Agatha H. and the Airship City (the novel) is a second look at the Agatha Heterodyne "Girl Genius" story now being developed in the authors' graphic novels, the most recent two of which have won the Hugo for Best Graphic Story. As such, it should be taken as a secondary source.

This volume covers the story we met in the first three volumes of the graphic story: Agatha Heterodyne and the Beetleburg Clank, Agatha Heterodyne and the Airship City, and Agatha Heterodyne and the Monster Engine.

Phil Foglio has stated in interviews that one part of the Girl Genius story is what happens to legends over time. The legends about Agatha's parents and uncle have grown with time; should we not expect the same of the legends about Agatha? In fact, there are some details changed and snippets of story added. A prologue tantalizes with glimpses of history and historical characters and perturbs the historical timeline developed by fans, hinting at clues or vital constraints. Other changes deepen and richen the character development without, so far as I can tell, damaging the story. We learn a few new things and are reminded of some old ones. Some lines of fan speculation are cut off, leaving us to focus on better questions.

The Girl Genius story is all about the backstory. Bit by bit through the graphic novels we've gotten history, found questions in it, and gotten answers that have provided fascinating and bigger questions. That essential story dimension does not change.

The Foglio humor still glows. Much of it revolves around the Jaegermonsters. If you are a fan, you probably know that the Jaegermonsters were a late addition; Phil was already drawing the comic books in which the first part of the story appeared when they were invented. By now they are deeply woven through both story and backstory. Among their narrative duties, they serve as clowns whose antics conceal both foreshadowing and backstory. A few new incidents near the start of the novel had me laughing out loud. (Clowns or not, they are capable of noble action and sacrifice.)

Is this as good a novel as the graphic story is a graphic story? No, it is not. That's not bad news: the graphic story's artwork, pacing, and working out of story details are so good that it would be a wonder if the novel could match it. The most apparent weakness is that details of the milieu that can be background in graphic form must be explained, and sometimes the explanation pauses the story for detail that might better be given elsewhere. This is a matter of technique and a basic problem for all SF&F writing, and unless the Foglios choose not to improve (for the sake of style, perhaps) they surely will.

It is possible that writing this novel required the Foglios to make another pass over their story notes. The overall plot and the key characters were written before the first published page was drawn, promising a tightly woven story. Phil and Kaja Foglio have delivered magnificently on that promise. This novel may help them continue to do so.

If you want the primary source for the Girl Genius story, continue to buy the graphic novels and read the eponymous web site. That's what they are for. If you are already a fan of the story, or cannot bear the long graphic form, then buy this book. But if you skip the graphic novels, you are missing an awful lot of richness, depth, and fun.
59 of 65 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Great for fans of the webcomic, but not an entry point to the series 12 Jan 2011
By Theodore M. Alper - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I feel a little guilty about only giving this three stars -- I *love* the webcomic, and obsessively check at 9PM Pacific Time Sunday, Tuesday, Thursday evenings to see each new page. I grab the graphic novels as soon as they come out. The Foglios have made a stunning alternative world, their art is amazing, they've crafted a fabulously intricate plot that has gone on for years with cliffhangers, twists and revelations on almost every page, etc. They richly deserve every accolade it has received.

When I heard this book was coming out, I immediately pre-ordered it, but was a little nervous. I didn't know if they could write prose as dazzling as their webcomic and, while I craved learning more of backstory, I feared the whole house of cards might fall down if they tried to explain too much.

This is definitely better than my worst fears -- you do learn a bit of backstory, and a few episodes from the first three volumes of the graphic novels are retold with enlightening new details. And the prose is servicable, if not dazzling.

But it really is mostly the story from the first three volumes, much of the same dialog, with a few adjectives tossed in to replace what was done in the artwork of the books. It just isn't the same!

For those already in love with the characters, it may not matter -- just seeing the familiar lines in the book immediately conjures up the page of the comic in which they occur and the characters you already know so well. But it's all a bit flatter without all that support.
[q]
It was Z. who felt he had to state the obvious. "It's a talking cat."
Theo shrugged. "Well, we're in a Heterodyne story now. These things happen." The others nodded.
[/q]
Can't you see them all running away from Klaus in a line as they say this?
[you can find it on the webcomic with date=20040823]. But if you try to imagine the book on its own, it just doesn't seem as engaging. "The others nodded." oy.

I'm not saying you shouldn't buy it. Of course you should. If you're as obsessed by the comic as I am, you will, anyway. You'll probably enjoy it, especially for the new bits sprinkled about.

But if you are new to the Girl Genius series, this isn't the place to start. Start by reading the webcomic. [Start from the beginning]. Soon enough, you'll be utterly in love with it all, you'll stay up all night for three nights straight catching up, and THEN you can buy this book for that extra bit.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fun, Fun, Fun! 5 Jan 2011
By Cypress Green - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I only heard about this novel a couple of weeks ago, and was so glad I could get it right away! No nail-biting waiting period! It's a very good adaptation of the wonderful Girl Genius comic. The Foglios do a great job filling in the many emotions in Agatha's pretty head. Although I have read the original comic many times, I found the prose version brings out details which make plot points more clear. The Barry/Bill prologue was a great read. Background on how Klaus brought Europa under control and the methods of The Other also helped.

Also, how to recreate the visual humor of the original? The Foglios add many new, extra touches which make Europa more real and provide extra smiles. Mentions of glass crabs, mimmoth invasions, Jaegermonsters "schtealing" boots (but not ham), and foods on sticks made me laugh.

I also love the non-Foglio cover art. It's neat to see a different interpretation of Agatha. Tom Kidd's depiction is true to detail but done in a realistic vein. I admit it got me thinking. A Girl Genius movie, perhaps? That would be the bomb! (What? He threw a *bomb* at me!) I can just see the opening scenes...The Heterodyne Boys prologue in sepia tones, narrated by Phil, leading into Phil storytelling on the street, as in Volume I page one. Then a pan back to show all Beetlesburg during the credits, ending with a zeroing in on Clay Mechanical. Continue with novel chapter 1 and Agatha getting ready for University. And then Agatha can walk right by Phil again on her way in. Of course, Kaja will be the lovely lady selling sugar frogs behind him.

ARRRG! Well, I can dream, right?
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Sneaks up on you 2 Feb 2013
By Aaron - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
I made it all the way through this book before realizing that it was a Girl Genius book. In fact it was the 'similarity' that caused me to remember the Girl Genius web comic which I had not visited since some time in about 2003.

Girl Genius simply swims with the kind of cheap 'zaney mad scientist,' 'clanking steam creation' and 'quirky mechanical sidekick' that much of Steampunk rely on in lieu of actual imagination.

And the result is a fantastic lighthearted story that is very entertaining in no small part because it doesn't take itself too seriously. G.G. says yes, steam powered robots with gears on the outside are impractical and silly but that's what makes them so fun.

It is in fact be the abundance of quirky silly little gadgets and gizmos that let's the technology blend into a background and allows the characters and plot to shine through.
I had to go back and raise my rating on this book. I had rated it lower because it seemed overly simplistic but when, weeks after finishing it, I still found myself periodically laughing out loud at some silly little gag from the book. I was forced to admit despite appearances I had found it quite entertaining.

Don't be fooled. Agatha H. And The Airship City may look like a book that is trying to dazzle you with it's `Steampunkness' in order to distract you from the fact that it has no plot or character development. In reality it is an imaginative, original fantasy that pushes Steampunk to its farcical limits, then makes a bowl of popcorn and sits down with you to watch the resulting home movie.
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