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The Court of the Air [Kindle Edition]

Stephen Hunt
3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (57 customer reviews)

Kindle Price: £2.99 includes VAT* & free wireless delivery via Amazon Whispernet
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Book Description

A hugely engaging adventure set in a Victorian-style world – a fantastical version of Dickens – that will appeal to fans of Susanna Clarke and Philip Pullman.

Two orphans are more than they seem. And one megalomaniac will stop at nothing to find them…

When Molly Templar witnesses a brutal murder at the brothel she has just been apprenticed to, her first instinct is to return to the poorhouse where she grew up. But there she finds her fellow orphans butchered, and it slowly dawns on her that she was in fact the real target of the attack. For Molly carries a secret deep in her blood, a secret that marks her out for destruction by enemies of the state. Soon Molly will find herself battling a grave threat to civilization which draws on an ancient power thought to have been quelled millennia ago.

Oliver Brooks has led a sheltered life in the home of his merchant uncle. But when he is framed for his only relative's murder he is forced to flee for his life. He is accompanied by Harry Stave, an agent of the Court of the Air – a shadowy organization independent of the government that acts as the final judiciary of the land, ensuring that order prevails. Chased across the country, Oliver finds himself in the company of thieves, outlaws and spies, and gradually learns more about the secret that has blighted his life, but which may also offer him the power to avert the coming catastrophe.

Their enemies are ruthless and myriad, but Molly and Oliver are joined by indomitable friends in this endlessly inventive tale full of drama, intrigue and adventure.

Product Description


‘An inventive, ambitious work, full of wonders and marvels’ Lisa Tuttle, The Times

‘Rich and colourful … keeps you engrossed … a confident, audacious novel’ SFX

Book Description

A fantastical tale of high adventure, low-life rogues and orphans on the run.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 718 KB
  • Print Length: 612 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0765360225
  • Publisher: Harper Voyager (4 Sept. 2008)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B002RI9QQM
  • Text-to-Speech: Not enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (57 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #121,635 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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More About the Author

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Stephen Hunt is a fantasy, science fiction, crime and thriller author who lives in Spain and the UK. His current fantasy works are within the 'Far-called' series, published by Gollancz (the genre imprint of Orion/Hachette) . . . with adventures set on Pellas, a massive and fascinating planet where radio signals take centuries to be passed along a chain of guild stations, and merchant caravans can travel for millennia without retracing their steps.

The first two exciting novels in this series are 'In Dark Service' and 'Foul Tides Turning', and focus on the Carnehan family, whose lives are torn apart in a terrible slave raid on the town of Northhaven.

Hunt is arguably best known for his best-selling Jackelian series of novels from HarperCollins, also the publisher of J. R. R. Tolkien and C. S. Lewis in the UK, the success of the first of which, 'The Court of the Air', gave rise to a genre called steampunk.

The Jackelian world is a fantasy adventure set in a far-future Earth where the passage of time has erased almost all memory of our current world from history. Electricity is now unreliable and classed as a dark power, with many of the nations of the world existing at a Victorian level of development and relying on steam-power, mechanical nanotechnology and biotechnology to survive and prosper.

It is an age of strange creatures, flashing blades, steammen servants, airship battles and high adventure.

Each novel is written as a stand-alone work, but share the same world and many of the same characters who criss-cross between the novels (a technique shared with fellow British fantasy author Terry Pratchett and his Discworld series).

Foreign language and international editions of the six novels of the Jackelian series have been sold to Tor Books (USA), Albin Michel (France), Verlagsgruppe Random House (Germany), Enterbrain Manga and Anime (Japan), Edições Saída de Emergência (Portugal), Paidós (Spain), AST (Russia), and the Anhui Literature and Art Publishing House (China).

Stephen maintains his own web site over at and when he is not writing, he can be found indulging in such interests as cooking, gardening, collecting comic-books, and building his collections of genre novels.

He still sometimes writes for the magazine he helped to found,, the first science fiction web site.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Gripping, Ripping Yarn 11 Aug. 2010
Trust your whims. I picked this up on a whim and was mightily pleased.

Set on a near earth in a steam-driven, difference engine-run victorian-ish empire, Court of the Air follows the trials, tribulations and finally exultations of two orphans, Molly and Oliver. They experience great heroism and great evil,see the exploits of man, crab-man, mole-man and steam-man, travel from one end of the empire to the other and finally realise their true potential.

Okay, so far, so familiar, and perhaps that is part of it's appeal. The wheel has not been reinvented, but the finish is nice and there's something very chunky about it. For a steampunk fantasy, this has it all, shatring a kinship with the work of Mieville and Reeve but not being as dark as former or teen orientated as the latter. There is brutality; there is levity; there is some pretty amusing wit and oodles of retro tech and high magic.

The pace is cracking for a book this size and though some of the characters transitions feel a little too abrupt there is some good development going on here and the last battle is a doozy, even if the ending is taken out of the hands of mortals - but the clue was in the name of the machine, wasn't it?

Yes, it does borrow heavily from Wells, Verne, Tolkien and Burroughs, but it's good fun and lovingly crafted. China Mieville may have beaten him to the punch, but it is a rare occurence that sees me refusing to do anything else (eat, sleep, other functions) until I have completed a book. Good fun, what what?
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Flawed genius 23 Feb. 2009
Wow! There is so much to love about this book. It's fast paced, action packed, crammed full with great ideas and big personalities and has a real emotional roller coaster of a story.

All of that is waiting to be discovered and enjoyed the only problem is you are thrown headlong into the alien world (a kind of steam driven sc-fi Victorian world) without guide, map, briefing or translator. The first 200 pages were like hacking through a near impenitrable forest with a pen knife!. As nothing is explained to the reader you have to figure everything out yourself which is initially exhausting.

However once you have got your bearings and sussed out the terminology you emerge from the forest onto a truly awe inspiring landscape, magician's, robots, spies, an airborne navy, revolutionaries, superheroes, full pitched battles, underground cities, floating cities... I could go on, safe to say there is plenty happening! and all at a breathless, break neck hurtling pace. A real page turner.

Do not be fooled by the jolly Phileas Fogg cover either, this is a grim and dark adult/teen story, not a children story. I won't even try to give you a plot synopsis but the action revolves around two teenage orphans who are sucked into a battle for the very earth itself. However there is a huge cast list of support charactors and it was here I found the most endearing personalities.

I really feel a glossory would have helped and I am amazed it hasn't got one and this omission along with for me a slightly disappointing final show down with the chief baddy is all that stopped it getting a full 5 stars and I will be buying the next in the series fairly shortly! which is supposed to be even better.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A wonderful, inventive read 16 Jun. 2010
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Stephen Hunt's "The Court of The Air" has been out for some time now, but until recently I've been put off reading it by negative comments and often mixed reviews. Well, I finally took the plunge and, while I can see how it might not be for everyone, what's certain is that it's definitely for me.

I read this 600-page beast in 3 days flat (Admittedly I don't have much of a life). It's a dizzying joy of a novel, a colourful mish-mash of ideas and influences of such startling vividness that at times it was like a splash of cold water in the face.

Needless to say, I loved this novel.

The background concerns the two rival countries of Jackals and Quatershift, which are ruled by twisted parodies of real political systems - One a cruel kind of constitutional monarchy, the kind that nobody would want to be monarch of, the other an extreme form of Communism which takes the concept of "equality for all" to insane and gruesome lengths. Add to this a touch of the French Revolution and the English civil war, a free state of intelligent steam-powered robots (often the most sympathetic characters), some secret police, a mutating/superpower bestowing fog known as "feymist" (Which may also be the entrance to another reality), Long-dead, subterranean Aztec-style civilizations with ancient insect gods (Who want to come back), bizarre land disturbances known as "floatquakes" which send sections of land bouncing upwards into space(!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Explosion of ideas 21 Sept. 2011
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Im an avid fan of fantasy books and steam punk is a new avenue of exploration for me. The ideas behind this book are myriad and fantastic but they explode in all directions. It is a very hard book to read with often difficult transition from one plot line to another. For a first book in a series it should have done more to set the scene and explain the baseline of the concepts. The story plot was confusing and jumping all over the place. On a number of occasions I found that the story line had changed tack and was talking about different people but my mind was still linked to the previous chapter. I have never had this problem with other authors . Like other comments a map would have been really good as well as a glossary of the invented technical terms. The ideas would make a great film or even an interesting "wargame" scenario that would appeal to either computer or miniature gamers. It has great potential and needs a better structure and flow to it. I will try the second book in the series just to give it a fair chance.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars
Really good read.
Published 22 days ago by Mr. G. D. Hopkins
5.0 out of 5 stars So much more than I was expecting!
I read a lot and I'm always looking for someone new to read. I've had this book on the shelf for age while I've been moving house and decorating etc and now I've finally got around... Read more
Published 3 months ago by Ravenspike
3.0 out of 5 stars It's not much good on detail
Something like Philip Pullman, crossed with Philip Reeve's mortal engines, elements of Pratchett's creatures trying to force their way in from other dimensions, with a mix of alien... Read more
Published 3 months ago by Liam Hogan
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
excellent fast delivery good condition, just need time to read it. Thanks
Published 4 months ago by R A Parkes
5.0 out of 5 stars Yes! Non Tolkien fantasy!
This book and I have had a rather curious relationship.... I found it in the secondhand bookshop in Carnforth, and picked it up thinking something along the lines of "I want to... Read more
Published 11 months ago by Joshua Ryan
5.0 out of 5 stars I love this book!
I've read this book twice over the years and I've just bought it for my new Kindle because I would love to read it again. I just enjoy the world Stephen Hunt has created. Read more
Published 13 months ago by Orchid
2.0 out of 5 stars a real struggle to wade through
This is a fast moving steampunk novel packed with interesting ideas and concepts. But sadly it is like a meal that has all the right ingredients but is put together in such a way... Read more
Published 17 months ago by Nick Brett
1.0 out of 5 stars Truly bad
I came to this with a positive attitude (gained from other comments and reviews). I found it dull, derivative, unimaginative, characterless, confusing. Read more
Published on 28 Feb. 2013 by LondonThinker
1.0 out of 5 stars tries hard and falls between all targets
Seems formulas and genres are the targets here, and the reader if adult finds it too superficial, or teen perhaps too graphic? Read more
Published on 20 April 2012 by C Richards
3.0 out of 5 stars Promising
Excellent writing style, inventive and with engaging characters. I was both thrilled and riveted throughout the first two thirds, however it seems Hunt ran out of steam; the plot... Read more
Published on 8 Oct. 2011 by Alice
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