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46 of 50 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb
Retribution Falls is the first novel in The Tales of the Ketty Jay, which promises to be a series of semi-stand-alone novels set in the same world and focusing on the crew of the airship Ketty Jay and its crew of miscreants and scoundrels. If I had to provide a quick soundbite for this it would be Firefly meets Crimson Skies, with a dash of Locke Lamora sprinkled on...
Published on 23 Feb 2009 by A. Whitehead

versus
3.0 out of 5 stars I couldn't finish it
No matter how well written or wheel drawn, or well imagined, I can't face a book that has nothing but venal, self centred and self serving characters.

Maybe I gave up too soon, but I just couldn't summon enough interest to carry on. Pity, because I was expecting a good series from the reviews.
Published 10 months ago by Brunneria


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46 of 50 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb, 23 Feb 2009
By 
A. Whitehead "Werthead" (Colchester, Essex United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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Retribution Falls is the first novel in The Tales of the Ketty Jay, which promises to be a series of semi-stand-alone novels set in the same world and focusing on the crew of the airship Ketty Jay and its crew of miscreants and scoundrels. If I had to provide a quick soundbite for this it would be Firefly meets Crimson Skies, with a dash of Locke Lamora sprinkled on top.

Darian Frey is the captain of the Ketty Jay, a battered old freighter which he keeps running by the skin of his teeth, by accepting jobs on the dubious side of the law and trying not to get into too much trouble. When Frey is offered the chance of a lifetime - an easy theft in return for a massive fortune - he overrides his common sense and accepts the job. When it goes hideously wrong and a lot of people die, Frey realises he has been set up, and must prove his innocence even though he and his crew are now Public Enemy #1. Frey's quest to redeem himself takes him and his crew through multiple aerial dogfights, double-crosses, high society soirees and lowlife gambling dens. At the same time we get to know his crew, from the troubled new navigator harbouring a dark secret to the former aristocrat-turned-demon-summoner to the alcoholic ship's surgeon to the powerful and dangerous metal thing they keep in the hold...

Occasionally a book comes along which takes the concept of fun and turns it up to 11. Retribution Falls is one such book. The story powers along at a relentless, page-turning pace. The characters are a diverse and fascinating bunch and Wooding uses skillful economy in getting into their backstories and motivations quickly and convincingly without bogging the story down in unnecessary detail. The world of Vardia is a fascinating one as well, with its diverse landmasses, the dark, forbidding storms that wrack the planet, and a wide range of cultures and people. There are certainly a tremendous number of concepts introduced in this book that aren't followed up on, leaving open a large number of possibilities for future adventures with this crew.

What makes the book refreshingly different from so many fantasies is the setting and tech-level. Airships are the primary method of transportation and the cavalry charges and duels of traditional epic fantasy are here replaced by frigate broadsides and intense dogfights. The technology of the airships and how they work is depicted convincingly, and the battles are great fun and a nice change of pace for a fantasy novel.

As I said before, the book is 'FUN' but at the same time it is not lightweight. Some of the characters are carrying real demons around with them and Wooding doesn't wimp out of some the bad things they've done or had done to them. There are also some genuinely unsettling moments (one flashback sequence to an arctic location is pretty disturbing, which is all the more impressive since we know the character involved survives), and hints of greater, darker threats out in the world which could come into play in later books.

Retribution Falls (*****) is an accomplished and enjoyable novel, and hopefully the start of many adventures for this crew. The novel will be published on 18 June 2009 in the UK in hardcover and tradeback, and the tradeback will be available in the USA via Amazon after that date as well.
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars I have a confession to make about this book., 19 Dec 2009
By 
J. Lesley "(Judy)" (United States) - See all my reviews
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My confession about this book is that I really didn't like it for about the first 100 pages. And I really wanted to like it because a friend had gone to a lot of trouble to send the book to me. He liked it, a lot. So what was wrong? I picked it up and put it down three different times. I didn't like the characters, not a single one of the motley crew of dysfunctional malcontents. My favorite characters so far were Bess the golem and Slag the cat. Not a ringing endorsement there. I didn't see much sense in where the story was headed, mainly because I didn't see WHERE the story was headed. It just seemed to ramble and wobble around, getting the crew in and out of one scrape after another. Then something happened. For me it was that the author made me interested in the captain of the aircraft, Darian Frey, and I began to wonder why he had been set up to take the blame for something he had not done. From then on, the action in this book simply flew. The mishmash of disconnected characters began to come together into a cohesive unit to try to help each other out of the troubles they were constantly landing in. They began to seem like people who deserved to be liked, people who had to clear up this terrible wrong by whatever means was at their disposal.

I ended up absolutely loving this book. The crew went from one disaster after another and yet they were always focused on their final objective, which was to prove their innocence. With their awful luck, success was never a certainty. The author, Chris Wooding, created quite an unusual mixture in his fantasy world. The aircraft in the story, including Frey's Ketty Jay, were the most otherworldly things in the book while the pirates still fought with cutlass, knife, pistol, and shotgun. There didn't seem to be very much high technology present for these fictional characters to use. That was a little surprising, but it still worked for me after I stopped looking for all the fancy fantasy equipment to show up. And the gold tooth, well, the tooth was a real hoot!

There is nothing deep, intellectual, or subtle about this book. What you get is a rollicking, fast moving (for me after about 100 pages!), adventure story. If what you want is to escape into a fantasy world with swashbuckling pirates then this will be a wonderful book for you. Just try to remember, if it starts out a little slowly for you too, the action really begins to ramp up and it just never slows down from then on.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Riproaring adventure in a Steampunk world, 2 Oct 2012
By 
K. Trebell (Cornwall, UK) - See all my reviews
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Retribution falls is the first in the "Tales of the Ketty Jay" series of books, of which there have been three thus far.

It tells the story of Darian Frey, Merchant, Smuggler, Scoundrel, his much loved battered old ship the Ketty Jay and his crew of misfits. The first in the series introduces us to Frey and his world and to his crew and builds the cast and characters, who they are and how they got there setting up the series whilst being an excellent and exciting adventure of betrayal and intrigue.

I decided to give this a go as I was looking for something fresh and new to read in the sci-fi or fantasy genre and saw this was very popular and doing well, and I noted the oft stated appeal to fans of Firefly and ordered it.

At first I was a little surprised. I'd half expected it to be set in space and for the Ketty Kay to be a spaceship (why I expected it to actually be firefly I've no idea) but I quickly got absorbed by the story and the world and in no time was in love with it. No lasers, no spaceships, a steampunk world of airships and guns and swords and utterly compelling for it. The world of Vardia is more than big enough for these adventures and provides a wonderful setting, mixing magic and a steampunk world of airship and dogfighting planes, rapidly moving the story through a host of settings and scenes and evoking a feeling of a vast world with as much variety as our own.

I absolutely loved this and went on to read the whole series in a few weeks, I really couldn't put the Kindle down when I was reading them. As a fan of adventure and Sci-Fi and, yes, Firefly, I couldn't recommend it enough, it's my favourite series of the last few years.
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13 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An exhilarating, thrill-a-minute adventure, 28 Jun 2009
Every now and then a book comes along that's a bit different, something refreshing, quirky even, a change from the norm. The Lies of Locke Lamora springs to mind, as does The Blade Itself. Both those novels breathed some fresh air into the genre. Not only were they a bit different, they also happened to be a hell of a lot of fun as well.

Retribution Falls is very similar in this respect - it's fresh, it's funny and it's an excellent reminder of what you can do with the genre when you actually try and invoke a bit of originality in your writing.

The novel follows the various misadventures of the crew of the Ketty Jay, a modified airship. Captained by the selfish womaniser Darian Frey, the crew includes a surgeon more competent with a shotgun than a scalpel, an aristocrat with a flair for daemonology, a secretive navigator who is clearly more than the sum of her parts, two support pilots (one with a deathwish, the other with a fear of anything that moves), a silent, brooding engineer, and a cat with an amusing name that has a tendency to suffocate crew members by sleeping on their faces.

They're a varied bunch, but they have one thing in common - they're all on the run, for one reason or another. The action starts when Frey receives an offer that's too good to be true - 50,000 ducats for a simple bit of piracy. Naturally, the offer is to good to be true...because it's not true at all - it's merely the first part of a sinister plan that threatens to plunge the entire continent of Vardia into civil war. With what seems to be half the civilised world after him, Frey leads his unlikely band of heroes on a merry chase to clear their names and avoid the noose...

Retribution Falls is FUN. Note the use of capitals there. That's what the book is really about; a ripping yarn of dogfights, piracy, double-dealing and double-crossing. It's often easy to forget that reading is meant to be entertainment, and as much as I like deep, meaningful novels, sometimes I just like to kick back and be entertained. Retribution Falls is perfect in this regard, and for several reasons.

The first is that Wooding has absolutely nailed the characters. For all the exciting dogfights and action sequences, this is actually a story driven by its characters. Darian Frey is superbly crafted, and his journey of self-discovery is fascinating to watch unfold. I can only speak for myself, but if a protagonist hasn't changed over the course of the book, I find myself wondering what the point of it all is. Frey changes - a heck of a lot, and Wooding deserves credit for the way he slowly reveals Frey's background, explaining why he became the man he is, and for making his gradual change so believable.

The support cast are equally well crafted, and Wooding takes care to ensure that the story of each crew member is carefully explored - and what fascinating stories they are. While the tone of the novel is decidedly light-hearted, there's a surprising amount of darkness and angst lurking at the heart of these characters. But none fall under the cliche of 'token-person-with-a-dark-past' - yes, they are all on the run from their respective pasts, but their stories are so well constructed that it gives them real depth and resonance instead of making them tired cliches. I particularly liked Crake's story, which provides a delightful twist - one of the sort that you realise just before it's revealed.

Wooding's masterclass in characterisation doesn't end with the crew of the Ketty Jay, however. Frey's arch nemesis, Captain Dracken of the Delirium Trigger (yep, we have plenty of aircraft with cool names) is excellently portrayed, as are the Century Knights and various other characters that pop in and out of the story. I really like the way Wooding attempts to inject personality into characters that only appear in the story for one scene, and here his efforts really come to fruition.

The characterisation is matched by the plot. In short, it's superbly crafted and keeps you guessing. Wooding clearly decided that pace was the name of the game, and subsequently Retribution Falls rips along at breakneck speed, barely allowing you to pause for breath. Put simply, there's not a dull moment. This is aided by the fluid, accessible prose that is perfect for this sort of story. Now, I'm not familiar with Wooding's other novels, though I have had a flick through his The Braided Path trilogy (which I was rather pleased to find that I own, though how it came into my possession remains a mystery). The writing style in that trilogy seems completely different from the wry humour of Retribution Falls, so from what I can see Wooding made something of a departure from his earlier works and tried writing in a style that is totally different from anything he's done before. It works - very well indeed.

Another positive aspect is the world Wooding has created - a strange, retro-future world where airships, guns and electricity sits happily alongside daemons and 'magic' swords (yep, there's a magic sword in there - but it works really well). The pace of the plot doesn't leave much room for that much exposition regarding the world, yet Wooding manages to imbue his world with both a distinct character and history. There's plenty more to come in subsequent novels (the world seems vast) but there's plenty of cool elements that surface in this novel. I particularly liked all the references to 'The Wrack' (there's one flashback chapter concerning the inhabitants of this part of the world which had me giddy with excitement) and also the way the demons are summoned and controlled (by sound frequency as it happens - a really nice idea).

Drawbacks? Can't think of any. Honestly. The only thought that nagged me was that Malvery needed a little more development, but that - pleasingly - was addressed right at the end of the book. My only complaint is that the book had to end. Wooding has already mentioned that a follow-up is due next year, and believe me - that will be one of the first books on my list for 2010.

Verdict: Retribution Falls is a superb, ripping yarn. Great characters, tight plot, relentless pace, and a fascinating world full of promise for future instalments. Prepare to be entertained.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Cracking read, 6 April 2013
Well-thought out characters, good pacing and a great plot to keep you turning those pages. The captain's luck would fit well into an Abercrombie novel. Read it
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant., 17 Feb 2013
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I was first introduced to Chris Wooding's books back in school when I read the first few Broken Sky books and really enjoyed his writing style. I often find it difficult to find new authors that I like so when I discovered the Ketty Jay books I couldn't put them down! The characters are all great, even if some plot lines are a little predictable, the world Wooding has created is detailed and easy to read/visualize. I often find myself missing the crew of the Ketty Jay and can't wait for the next book!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Restored my faith in 'Steampunk'!, 29 July 2011
By 
Steampunk "JS" (Northern Ireland) - See all my reviews
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I love the IDEA of steampunk, but for that past year almost everything I've read in the genre has felt dull or disappointing. Maybe I'm just jaded, or maybe I've just been unlucky.

Then, joy of joy, I picked RETRIBUTION FALLS from my 'to be read' shelf and found myself on the airship Ketty Jay with a bunch of disreputable ne'er-do-wells - an inept rag-tag crew of odd-bod pirates with interesting and shady pasts. What really set this book apart from others I've read over the past 12 months is that the characters feel real; they're interesting; Most importantly of all, I CARED about them. I didn't expect they'd all get to the end of the book still alive, and the thought that one of them might come to a sticky end actually BOTHERED me.

When you have a great bunch of characters like this, then add a good story, the result is something very special. There are none of the increasingly tired old Steampunk clichés: no vampires; no zombies; no genuine historical characters acting ridiculously out-of-character. Just a convincingly real cast and a cracking good plot.

I finished the book in bed last night. Before going to sleep, I got up, logged on, and ordered the second Ketty Jay book, The Black Lung Captain: Tales of the Ketty Jay. It's that good, and I can't wait to catch up with the crew in their next adventure.

V Highly recommended
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great fun - pirates, swashbuckling adventure and a touch of magic, 31 Oct 2010
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I like two kinds of books - those which are thought provoking and provide a more challenging read, and those which are pure enjoyment and escapism - and Retribution Falls definitely falls into the latter category (which is no criticism). This tale of piracy and fantasy is written with a light touch and I loved every minute of it. Although the narrative races through the action there is plenty of room for character development, particularly in the selfish and mordant captain Frey who has to learn that the Ketty Jay needs more than just a captain and that her crew is something beyond a collection of desperate, alcohol-soaked runaways (although they are that too). There are moments of hilarity and poignancy and none of these characters are straightforward types - there is more to learn about all of them. The story may not be overly complex but Wooding handles it well and while as some of the characters' personal stories are being revealed I could predict how there were going to work, out this in no way ruined my enjoyment. The magic element (Crake's daemonology) had just the right balance of problem solving and fallibility, and doesn't overtake the other story elements. This is primarly a swashbuckling adventure with a disreputable bunch who use whatever means at their disposal to survive. All in all, a highly enjoyable romp with a murky edge and I look forward to sailing through the skies with the Ketty Jay in the next instalment.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sheer escapist joy!!!, 29 April 2010
By 
Jeff "roadrunner" (uk) - See all my reviews
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I absolutely loved this book!!!! I haven't enjoyed a book so much in ages. Totally escapist fantasy adventure. I urge you to ignore any comments below 4* here as being way off beam and perhaps overly critical. It's well written, full of action and as Joe Abercrombie has it on the cover "it left me with a big smile on my face". Can't wait for the next one. Do give this one a go. I cannot recommend it highly enough.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Firefly meets Final Fantasy, 27 Feb 2010
By 
Neil J. Pearson (London, UK) - See all my reviews
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Initially, it's hard to get past how much this feels like "Firefly; the fantasy". This isn't a bad thing in that it completely captures the fun pace and "anything goes" attitude but it can be a little distracting at first. As the story progresses it is clear that Wooding hasn't created a piece of fanfic as there are hints of the "Final Fantasy" games and "Full-metal alchemist" anime/manga as well. Mixed together an intriguing and entertaining new world emerges. The central mystery is quite fun and the book never really has any lulls in terms of action or plot progression and all the characters are likeable (even the unpleasant ones).
I enjoyed how this is a self-contained story meaning we don't need another two books before we know what is going on. Despite that there are many hints to where the story can go and it is clear that there is much more to be explored in further installments. For anyone who loved "firefly" or "lies of Locke Lamorra", this is a book worth checking out as it captures the spirit of both without being derivative. The most fun I've had reading a book in a while and a great start to a new series.
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Retribution Falls
Retribution Falls by Chris Wooding (Paperback - 26 April 2011)
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