Most helpful positive review
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A rattling good adventure story
on 21 June 2008
This is a sequel to Hunt's "The Court of the Air", taking place a few months after the earlier story ends and involving some of the same characters. It stands alone, but if you haven't read "Court" I would do so first (for a start, it is an excellent read).
Both books focus on the kingdom of Jackals, a state that bears some similarity to late 18th/ early 19th century Britain, guarded by a trusty fleet of airships from the fiendish plots of neighbouring revolutionary Quatreshift. Jackals sees itself as the beacon of liberty, but that is relative: for example, the titular King has his arms removed so that he can't lift his hands against the people.
"Court of the Air" featured an invasion of Jackals by Quatreshift, foiled by agents of the Court itself (which literally watches over Jackals) assisted by a race of steam powered robots, the oddly sympathetic steammen. Much of the action of "Kingdom", in contrast, takes place outside Jackals, on an expedition (by submarine!) to seek the ruins of a lost, peaceful civilization which it is hoped can elevate the state of the world. This trip upriver into the deep jungle has overtones of "Heart of Darkness" combined with a dollop of "The Lost World" as our heroes (and heroines) battle with a sentient vegetable empire, steammen turned savage and giant lizards. The tension increases throughout. There is a saboteur on the boat - but who is it, and what do they want?
In the second part we learn more about the true motives for the trip, and in a conclusion worthy of a James Bond film, the survival of the human race is at stake.
The world of Jackals (perhaps Earth, far in the future?) is well realised. It contains many echoes of our own (apart from the Jackals/ Quatreshift relationship) and it's fun spotting the references, but Jackals also has its own deep weirdness and twisted logic.
This is a real page turner, and I recommend it strongly.
Clearly there's scope here for many more stories (please Mr Hunt!)