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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

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3.0 out of 5 stars Worth persevering with
I really struggled to like this book, for about the first third of it, but kept going and really enjoyed it by the end. It was as close as I have come to ditching a book and then pulling back. The problem to me was that each chapter felt too trite and sensational - like a series of episodes of Firely (which I liked a lot) with what felt like a string of over-dramatic...
Published on 3 Nov. 2012 by ChrisKnight


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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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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 
Kevin 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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16 of 18 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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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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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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This review is from: Retribution Falls: Tales of the Ketty Jay (Tales of the Ketty Jay 1) (Paperback)
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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5.0 out of 5 stars Fill up your aerium tanks! You're in for one helluva ride!, 19 Jan. 2013
This review is from: Retribution Falls: Tales of the Ketty Jay (Tales of the Ketty Jay 1) (Paperback)
Retribution Falls is the first in Chris Wooding's Tales of the Ketty Jay. It follows the ever charming Darian Frey and the crew of his airship, the Ketty Jay. Made up of a band of scoundrels you'd be lucky to see in a Pirates of the Caribbean movie, the Ketty Jay is a rickety old ship that Frey holds dear to his heart. When Frey is given an offer he can't refuse - involving a spot of sky-piracy, a ship full of gold and the right place at the right time - what's he to do but take up the offer? It quickly becomes apparent that not all is what it seems, and Frey and the crew find themselves on the run from almost every faction out there in Wooding's madcap world. From bounty hunters to government paid assassins, they need to keep running if they'll ever have a chance at a dishonest life again.

Early on in Retribution Falls, we're introduced to a character named Bess. She's sympathetic, terrifying, loyal and funny. She's also an enormous golem, never talks and spends most of the novel sitting in a heap on the floor. It's with characters like this that Chris Wooding manages to convey his tremendous skill as a writer. He gives each and every one of them a layered backstory, filled with internal conflict and motivations, external desire and whip-cracking dialogue. Whether they're the ship's charismatic captain, Darian Frey or the hilarious out-flyers, Pinn and Harkins, each and every one of them feels rounded and, fundamentally, real.

Although characters are at the heart of the novel, Wooding certainly doesn't skimp on plot. This book moves like a Skylance in a firefight - swift and deadly. Right from the opening moment we're thrown into a tale of sky pirates, aerium-fuelled dogfights and the occasional bit of daemonism (magic) thrown in for good measure. There are double crosses, triple crosses and colourful new characters on every other page.

If there's anything negative to say about this novel, it's that sometimes the world itself takes a backseat to all the action. It never feels entirely clear where the Ketty Jay is in relation to everything else - whether this would have been helped with a simple map at the front or some clearer explanation, I'm not sure. The book moves at such a pace, it would have been a shame to see it slowed down by extraneous detail - a map would probably be the way to go.

Retribution Falls really was one of the biggest surprises of 2012 for me - a rip-roaring belter of an action adventure story, with plenty of character depth to boot. I've heard it compared to Firefly on more than one occasion - but try Firefly crossed with Cowboy Bebop, mixed with Pirates of the Caribbean and a healthy dose of Steampunk, and we're halfway to explaining just how awesome this book is.

Now - where's the Rake table? I fancy a game.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Worth persevering with, 3 Nov. 2012
This review is from: Retribution Falls: Tales of the Ketty Jay (Tales of the Ketty Jay 1) (Paperback)
I really struggled to like this book, for about the first third of it, but kept going and really enjoyed it by the end. It was as close as I have come to ditching a book and then pulling back. The problem to me was that each chapter felt too trite and sensational - like a series of episodes of Firely (which I liked a lot) with what felt like a string of over-dramatic situations and solutions to the scrapes they found themselve in etc. Really quite over-dramatic and trying too hard. But Chris Wooding maintains the overall plot throughout the story, without getting too lost or too convoluted so there is a strong sense of where the story is going and you get used to his style and start to enjoy the tale.
I will happily read the sequel some day soon, but I won't re-read this first book again - it was good enough to enjoy in the end but not a real classic. Probably 3-3.5 out of 5
In terms of flavour, it is sci-fi, but frontier cowboy/pirates type sci-fi. And it's not too grim and gritty at all - there is a happy ending and a cheeky squeeky feel to pretty much everything, and even the more serious back-story reveals are not particularly heavy considering, contributing to the TV show feel of the whole book. There are no real strange races and no real hi-tec. Space ships come in all shapes and sizes, but they are definitely not super hi tech marvels like in Alistair Reynolds or Iain M Banks novels. Computers don't really get a mention, but there is pseudo-magic and religion featuring in the main plot arcs, but they don't take a too dominant role and we aren't asked to believe a whole clever magic system or over complicated societal structure. So too me it has a real feel of the TV series Firefly, or maybe Han Solo space pirate.
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4.0 out of 5 stars secrets, spies and pirates ayes., 2 Aug. 2011
By 
D. J. Ketchin "living in books" (Edinburgh Uk) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Retribution Falls: Tales of the Ketty Jay (Tales of the Ketty Jay 1) (Paperback)
"Its a fantasy version of Firefly" said the friend who loaned me this. The style and setting feel undeniably familiar and I found that at first i was trying to superimpose firefly characters and settings over the book. This doesnt really work as the resemblance is more style than substance, the characters are undeniably cast from the same mould , but apart from being strangers drawn together on a ship there is little similarity. What is good - is that like firefly the books have captured a wild frontier spirit and a crew all with secrets.

A demonologist, a drunk, a dead person, a freed slave, a golem and a man who cant commit to any relationship. Not the ideal crew , but an interesting cast.

Its a world of technology and magic where life is cheap ,piracy common, and broken dreams are common currency. The captain of the Ketty Jay - a tramp trader and occasional pirate ship is offered a one-time only job that will make the crew wealthy (or him alone rich). The job goes wrong and the Ketty jay is pursued by privateers, knights and religous zealots alike. The crew of misfits are forced to confront their flaws and the dirty secrets of their past to survive.

Space opera without space. High Seas drama - without the seas. A humorous action adventure romp. Firefly was undoubtedly an influence, but thats not a bad thing. Its insanely fun and wierdly familiar even from the first pages. It has the very strange feel of rediscovering an old friend.

My only reservation was that the pasts of the crew were all spilled in this first novel - leaving me wondering what the next book will do. I will find out shortly as I will definitely be reading it soon.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Tremendous fun!, 7 Jan. 2011
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Took me a good while to read this one, not because it was hard going, but I just couldn't read it consistently until Christmas where I actually had some time to myself.

Retribution Falls is best described as a steampunk, sky pirate adventure in the simplest terms. It's both a character-driven and plot-driven story of treachery, thieving, action and often poignant self-discovery. Darian Frey is te captain of the freebooter vessel the Ketty Jay, leading a ragtag bunch of crew members with their own history from one job to the next, as well as getting drunk regularly and gambling away most of the paltry sums of money he makes. One day he is offered a job he can't refuse, but suddenly he and his crew become embroiled in a dangerous political conspiracy, and he struggles to clear his name.

Everything in this story is presented with clarity and sharp humour that never ceases to entertain. The story is well-worn archetype, but it is very well played out and always interesting - each of the characters in the crew have their own story, and throughout the course of the book we learn their secrets, why they do what they do, and how they evolve as people by the end. The various plot threads are very tightly knit together, with the odd sly metaphor slipped in for good measure. The chapters are generally quite short, which is good news for someone like myself.

Wooding's steampunk-influenced future is well realised without wallowing too much in Tolkien-esque over-description, yet providing enough scientific matter to allow you to picture the technologies involved in flying the great airships of the world.

Some have said that this book is slightly misogynistic and I suppose it is to a degree, as most of the female characters are whores, or mistreated by Frey and then almost forgotten about. This is not a reflection on Wooding though, as I believe he is merely trying to portray a certain world we can identify with pirates, and by the end Frey does mention his regret for mistreating certain female people. To be fair, throughout the course of the book the men don't seem any better than the women, and often the character of Jez whips the boys into action.

Overall very readable, very fun, and very fast paced with few misgivings.

9/10
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5.0 out of 5 stars Adventure and skullduggery on the high, errr.... winds., 22 Sept. 2010
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This review is from: Retribution Falls: Tales of the Ketty Jay (Tales of the Ketty Jay 1) (Paperback)
Retribution Falls is set in a pseudo Victorian era world where high tech is mechanical rather than electronic, and humanity has taken to the air rather than the seas. It is a breathless tale about the adventures of a disparate crew of freebooters and buccaneers aboard a crumbly old (air)ship.

What is unusual is that character development takes place throughout the novel, the author regaling back-stories at strategic points and one begins feeling somewhat disjointed from the characters initially, which is only a minor criticism since once development occurs, the reader quickly warms to the varied rag-tag of crew. Once in gear, the book rattles along at a fierce pace. This is one of those books where you are looking forward to the next opportunity to read what is going to happen next.

Chris Wooding has clearly imagineered this whole world and society with impressive detail and I have a sense that he has carefully researched the differences in this society that would inevitably occur if human technology had taken such a different path earlier on. He writes very well in terms of prose and the coherence of the plot. I can tell that he has carefully planned the story and this gives a rounded and very satisfying conclusion, which is unlike so many contemporary horror/sci-fi/fantasy writers who seems to all be writing to a deadline and end stories with dissatisfying whimpers or cliffhangers.

So altogether, it is a hugely enjoyable, well-realised adventure that crackles with rich invention and imagination. In fact the only other criticism I would have is that the world is so rich and well-imagined that it takes time for your mind to absorb this unusual yet familiar place. 4.5 stars out of 5.
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Retribution Falls: Tales of the Ketty Jay (Tales of the Ketty Jay 1)
Retribution Falls: Tales of the Ketty Jay (Tales of the Ketty Jay 1) by Chris Wooding BA (Paperback - 8 April 2010)
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