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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon 6 May 2013
Format: PaperbackVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Set in a world where everything is driven by steam lives Captain Romulus Buckle of the airship Pneumatic Zeppelin. His mission is to rescue his adoptive father Balthazar Crankshaft, leader of the Crankshaft Clan. With his adopted siblings, Sabrina and Max (who's half-Martian) and his crew, he must brave all dangers to enter the "City of the Founders", who hold Balthazar captive. Oh, and let's not forget the ship's mascot, Kellie the dog!
This is all good swashbuckling stuff - blackbang (gunpowder, I guess) muskets, pneumatic cannon and sabres.
It's well written, the characters are engaging and once you accept this new world it's exciting and a real page turner.
Highly recommended!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 28 June 2013
Format: PaperbackVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I loved this! Marvellous post-apocalyptic steampunk set mainly over and sometimes in a destroyed and frozen California, where warring clans are fighting for supremacy. Romulus Buckle is 20 years old and Captain of the dirigible Pneumatic Zeppelin - in this world people rarely live past fifty and many never make half that. His crew is varied and includes several other adopted siblings of their leader Balthazar, plus a very characterful dog, Kellie of Kells. The possibility of electricity was destroyed 300 years ago in The Storming, when Earth fell to aliens, and now the only power is steam.
All this we learn in the first few chapters which are also punctuated by crises, before the main story takes form. Balthazar and two other clan leaders have been kidnapped and taken to the City of the Founders which is wreathed in a constant mustard gas fog. Buckle and company set out to the rescue in his dirigible and accompanied by members of the Alchemist clan. There follows almost constant fighting, incredible odds to overcome, heroic acts and bravery undaunted, shipwreck and general mayhem, but the whole thing coalesced into a well, if frantically, paced story which still has believable and appealing characters.
Romulus is splendid, as if the half-Martian Max, the rather mysterious Sabrina and the rest of a large but distinguishable cast. I loved the chapter headings, in fact I loved the whole thing.
Better not to go into the details of how everything works - the fact is, is does!
Can't wait for the next installment.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon 7 June 2013
Format: PaperbackVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I must confess that I had never heard of Steam punk until I got this book but I had read the odd SF story where electricity was not available.
I found the ideas interesting. The book reminded me of the pulp science fiction of the 50s and the American comics of the 50s and 50s and even Saturday morning matinee films.
The story its self is good. Humanity in the area of California has divided up into clans who seem to be at various degrees of war with the other clans. Romulus Buckle is the Captain of a giant airship which he has taken from another clan in reprisal for an attack on his clan home.
The leaders of three clans had met to discuss a peace treaty when they are kidnapped by another more powerful clan. The story is all about Captain Buckle's mission to rescue the leaders.
The characters are interesting and likeable. The action is non-stop and exciting. In fact I would describe the book as good old fashioned "Thud and Blunder".
I would say that one should not try analysing the engineering too deeply. And there are a lot of thing that are left to wonder about. Exactly why does the Captain have to have all sorts of gears and steam pipes in his top hat, what do they do. But then, why worry, just stand back and enjoy the mayhem.
I must admit to one thing that always puzzles me about stories where there is no electricity and people rely on steam. Diesel engines do not need electricity and are much better than steam in so many ways. Why not use them?
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Format: PaperbackVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Steampunk [a story with fantastical technology that could have come out of the works of Jules Verne] meets post apocalyptic fiction [stories set after the collapse of civilisation] in this novel. It runs for four hundred and ninety pages. It's divided into three parts. And many very short chapters, often no longer than three pages. It is also the start of a series.

It's one of those first book in a series that comes to a reasonable amount of closure at the end but still leaves a lot unresolved, in order to allow for more books to follow.

The story is set centuries after the collapse of civilisation as the result of an alien bombardment of Earth. And mostly take place in what was once the west of America. In this new world there are various clans of people living in the ruins of the long gone civilisation. There are alien structures. Plus a fair amount of life in the air.

Such as the Pneumatic Zeppelin. An airship that belongs to one particular clan, has a large crew of varied and distinct individuals and is under the command of Captain Romulus Buckle.

When we first meet the Captain, he and his crew are on a quest. To find and rescue the leader of their clan, who was kidnapped during important talks with other clans. Seemingly by the mysterious people known as the founders.

Danger lies ahead for the Captain and his crew. Can they succeed in their mission? And will their lives ever be the same again if they do?

First books in series need to set things up and introduce the reader to the world of the tale. A very original and unique world this is. The initial trouble with the book though is that there's an awful lot for you to be introduced to. Everyone has a strange name, there's lots of characters, and there's lots of strange this in this new world as well. A lot of information is thrown at you in a narrative style that is initially a bit tricky to get used to. It feels as if the reader is being told this whole story by someone long after the fact, and said narrator is telling things in their own style. This takes a lot to get used to, and the book really is a bit tricky to get into as a result.

However, once you get past all this, things do settle down. As characters -mostly Romulus but occasionally others from his crew - become viewpoint characters and the story is told through their eyes, it does become a lot easier going. This doesn't really come about till around page seventy or so, though. So do hang on in there, because it does get worth it.

The first part of the book then goes on to have more set up, but in a more readable manner that what came before. The second gets into the action, with some decent such sequences. But the third has some action scenes that are absolutely thrilling at times, and will keep you hooked.

It is a book, even once it gets easier going and you've gotten into it, where there is a lot of detail, and the prose does need your close attention at all times.

As mentioned, there are a lot of characters, but they do gradually come to life as things go on. Some more so than others, but the former do start to appeal.

This is, as mentioned, the first of a series. At the start of the book I wondered if I would be able to get into it. By the end I found myself enjoying it and I wouldn't mind to know what comes next. So if you like this kind of thing it is most definitely worth a look. Do persevere with it, and you will be rewarded.
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16 of 19 people found the following review helpful
on 1 July 2013
Format: PaperbackVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
`Romulus Buckle & the City of the Founders' is the book equivalent of trying to walk a puppy, as soon as you get the lead out they are bouncing around all over the place. I have to love the enthusiasm, but it can get pretty tiring, pretty fast. `Buckle' follows our Cap'in and his fearless zeppelin crew as they set out into enemy territory to rescue his father (and the clan's leader). On the way they must fight mechanical men, alien flying creatures and the weather itself. What they don't do is sit still for a few minutes and actually let things sink in.

With no time to breath, `Buckle' is a book that is constantly tripping over its own feet. We are introduced to Buckle and several of his crew only to be immediately thrust into the action. Usually an author would take a rest after the initial action beats to develop the relationships, but Richard Ellis Preston Jr. does not do this. Instead he decides to dish out characterisation on the fly. Who does not think about their true feelings for a crew member when they are plummeting to their doom? Perhaps the characters should have spent more time articulating their emotions, rather than hitting stuff?

Although the action is insistent, it does not become tiresome. Preston is certainly a skilled writer of pulp action; some of the fight sequences are tense and very well written. It is just that the people involved are a little undercooked. All the crew are a little young - Buckle is said to be 18 years of age. This is an alternative future of hardships and easy death, but if all the crew were 18-25 because they die young, would not many of them have to remain at the homestead to be continuously replenishing the population? See Victorian Britain for how families develop in situations like this. `Buckle' is an adventure romp that has plenty of action, but this is used to hide a lack of characterisation and slightly underdeveloped world building on Preston's part. Still a fun read, but a little lacking.
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on 14 May 2014
"Romulus Buckle & the city of the founders" by Richard Ellis Preston is an exciting new edition to the steampunk/ fantasy genre, of refreshing originality and extraordinary premise. This debut set within a distopian future is a tale of high action and adventure that takes you on a thrilling ride of unforgettable memorability and remarkable uniqueness. The sweeping saga is full of significant potential; comprising of inspired imaginative ideas amid an incredibly detailed, well thought out narrative set within a complex backdrop. Sucked into a darkly magnetic post-apolocalyptic world of mystical, spellbinding sights this entertaining adventure story was like nothing I have encountered before!

"...Buckle leapt down the last four stairs. His boots landed hard on the Castle deck grating. The female steampiper was on him in an instant, her sword blade waving back and forth, glimmering gold in the yellowish illumination of the firefly lanterns on the railing hooks.
Buckle backed up, getting his bearings. From the way she balanced the weight of her blade in her arm and wrist, he knew that he was up against an elite swordswoman. He could hear the battle raging below: muskets blazing, swords clanging, shouts of men and women locked in mortal combat.
The fight for the life of the Pneumatic Zeppelin was in full swing!"

This explosive, action-packed literary masterwork is indeed something very special and full on, fast-paced from the very first page. The snappy, punchy sentences and fervent intensity adds to the overall stimulating saga along with the dynamic dialogue and cast of colourful, captivating characters. Unable to tear my gaze from the pages I was literally glued to this book, lost within a remarkable otherworldly adventure of supreme singularity and epicness! Left with a list of questions lingering in my mind once I had finished reading, I now wait with baited breath and eager anticipation as to the next instalment and sequel to such an astonishingly fantastic story. I loved the characters Spartak, Tinskin, Gallowglass and the imperial clans all of who were so spunky and individualistic!

This recommended read for fans of sci-fi and steampunk blends together an interesting, eclectic mix of genre and curious concepts for a truly fresh, fabulous read. I cannot wait for the next book in the "Romulus Buckle & the engines of war" series that's set to be a striking series of great magnitude.

*I would like to thank the author for having a signed physical copy + magnet of his book as a first-read giveaway on Goodreads*

5 STARS - 10 out of 10!
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TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICEon 27 September 2013
This book is enormous fun to read. It is set in a future world where alien artifacts have landed (they sound very like the monolith in "2001") and have wiped out electricity. After other natural disasters we now have a world where steam is the power source, modern armaments do not exist (the reason for this is never explained) and people live in enclaves and travel by airship. These are the voyages of the airship Pneumatic Zeppelin. Its urgent mission - to find its leader/father figure who has been captured by the Founder Clan and is being kept prisoner in their city beneath a cloud of mustard gas. It will seek out new worlds for its crew and encounter new civilisations. It will boldly go where no one from their clan has been before - or, at least that is what they think.

The book starts at the beginning of the voyage and as the journey progresses it introduces us to the technology of the time, the history of the world as a whole and the personal histories of Romulus Buckle and his crew. It is obvious that the book is designed to be the first of a series because snippets of information are revealed and there are teasing glimpses of other stories. This book does, however, stand by itself as an introduction to this world and as a story. The technology has some inconsistencies but it is beautifully described and just slightly bonkers. The crew and other characters are a little too comic book to engage with completely (and their ascribed ages are too young for the maturity they show) but the plot is a true adventure yarn where our heroes are continually faced by new challenges from which they barely escape by the skin of their teeth.

This reminds me of a Victorian adventure story like one of those by H Rider Haggard or Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and the writing is just slightly more formal than usual in today's novels which reinforces the feeling. The book is probably too long and I did need to take a few breaks whilst reading because I had to concentrate so hard on the details of the world which the author was creating. I have determined that some reviewers think that this would be better marketed as a Young Adult book but I don't think that that demographic would appreciate and understand all the detail or stick with the story to the end. It is a long time since I was a Young Adult but I really enjoyed this book and would love to join the crew again for another adventure.

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Format: PaperbackVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Steampunk has been around for a while, but the last few years has seen a marked upsurge in both interest and product, and you could be forgiven for thinking that this might just be another bandwagon tale. It isn't. It's hugely enjoyable, and many a swash is buckled! Much like the recent sci-fi (I refuse to type the alternative spelling) show, Defiance, this story is set after Earth has been devastated by alien invasion - technology has regressed, somewhat, to a not-quite-now-but-not-quite-then state. The characters are fun, the prose flies off the page, and it's a great set-up to an on-going series.
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on 11 June 2014
Will concede right up front that Steampunk is not my genre. Done properly its very mechanically descriptive, and my brain wont process that overload of information, and Richard Ellis Preston has done steampunk properly.

However, on the flip side he does paint an impressive picture of a future earth, following a band of competent and likeable characters - most particularly Romulus Buckle, who is endowed with humour, honour, physical appeal and all the other traits that makes one immediately fall in love with a protagonist. I will follow him anywhere, irrespective of the difficulty I sometimes had keeping pace with the non-stop action in a sometimes somewhat technical setting.
On that note, being set predominantly on a Zeppelin is also an interesting new slant to a saga.

I hope that there are many more adventures of Romulus Buckle to follow. He is a strong character worthy of cult status. Well played, Mr Ellis Preston Jr :-)
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Format: PaperbackVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Romulus Buckle is the young captain of the Pneumatic Zeppelin and he must travel to the mysterious city of the Founders to rescue his adopted father and leader of his clan. The novel is set in a future without electronic devices where steam rules and where much of the world is uninhabitable because of "the mustard".

The action is continuous and covers only a short period of time, but because of the need to develop the back story and to describe this very different world and its inhabitants it is slow to start with. A lot of this is character development and the use of short chapters with suggestive titles keeps you interested. It is a good holiday read for a science fiction fan looking for something different and I am looking forward to the next installment.
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