I've not read much steampunk, but I found this thoroughly enjoyable. The plot of the story was well-paced and kept me interested right to the last page. Jaq D Hawkins opens up a wonderful, strange and weird world where you can lose yourself in a fantasy of airships, pirates, pitchfork wielding villagers, and battling businessmen. It starts out with a pirate like adventure in the skies, in a setting that reminded me of Victorian London. Captain Bonny, is in charge of the pirate airship that takes off with someone else’s warehouse full of opium. Almost everyone enjoys chasing the dragon and drinking a little rum. There is a hint of a love interest, and lots of adventure, with solid characters.
Jaq D Hawkins writing skills immensely impressed me. The pace of the writing took me sailing through the air into a fantastical but convincing world. You enter the heart of each character, Captain Bonny, the luckless clerk Dudley, prostitutes and many more. The author painted such a vivid picture that this adventure stayed with me long after I put the book down. If all steampunk is like this then I’m a fan. I would highly recommend this as an escapist fun adventure.
Jaq D Hawkins opens up a wonderful, strange but weird, world to the reader and provides a welcome escape from the humdrum banality of everyday life. You can lose yourself in a fantasy of airships, pirates, pitchfork wielding villagers, mechanoids and battling businessmen.
No-one in their right mind would deliberately fly an airship into a storm – unless, of course, you’ve got the goddess of air travel on your side. Honestly, the plot is as daft as that – and it’s fabulous.
Anyone who loved and still remembers mad old Lionel Jeffries’ role as the eccentric grandpa in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang will know what I mean. He inhabited his own crazy world and he would have loved it here. I just know he would have got on well with Captain Horatio Bonny, Merchant Airman.
And yet this is no children’s mainstream blockbuster. Oh no. Apparently it’s a Steampunk Adventure. Now I’m not going to lie to you. I had to look that up. For anyone as ignorant as me it means a sub-genre of science fiction that typically features steam powered machinery.
I started to read “The Wake of the Dragon,” without knowing what to expect but was quickly drawn into the tale. The story is beautifully written in a style that seems almost classical, and the adventure it leads the reader on is nothing short of imaginative. The loves, fears and addictions of the main characters help them come to life, making it easy to become caught up in their journey. My favorite part was the steampunk aspect that added a different dimension to the traditional pirate tale. Like sea-going pirate ships, flying dirigibles carry their own dangers, and Captain Bonny certainly pushes the limits of his ship and crew throughout the book. I really enjoyed the story and would recommend it to anyone seeking a great adventure—steampunk or otherwise!
This was my first Steampunk novel; immediately I'm wondering my neglect. Hawkins writing is good enough that I was unaware of reading, as the words flowed so effortlessly into the adventure. Some writers can make me feel I'm watching film, I felt that. Hawkins crafts a wonderful adventure out of her genre inspired distortion of 19th Century History. We read about a fictitious battle for wealth, conducted by industry, traders and outright crooks. In particular we observe a battle for the trade in opium and other nefarious goods between all parties from the huge East India Company, down to the lowest of pirates. We are not though, as history would lead us to expect, at sea. We are in the skies above East Anglia, London, Cornwall and eventually Paris. Pirates in airships and other inventively interpreted steam age technologies add a magical layer to Victoriana. Imagine Montgolfier balloons with wooden pirate ships as baskets. Not an exactly new artistic invention, that's true, but newly drawn. With the trade in intoxicants, the presence of spies, prostitutes, crafty merchants and a generous supply of other maverick souls we follow the in the wake of the Dragon. Some of Hawkins characters almost walk out of the words, or at least they do for me.
The Wake of the Dragon follows the events directly following a large air-pirate heist. While this provides an interesting back-drop for an adventure story, it feels as if it could be just any old day at the office for the people involved. There is no feeling that this is "the big one' or 'the final one' or extra important in any way and therefore worthy of note. I was a little disappointed about that. But the writing is very good (if repetitive at times), the steampunk technology interesting, and the characters relatable. I especially liked the pirates dedication to their goddess. There is also some appreciable humour and wit, especially in poor Dudley's discomfort and the captain's relations with his first officer.
While The Wake of the Dragon might not be all heart stopping action, it is very good and well worth a read. If you like steampunk in the slightest I would recommend picking it up. I'm definitely up for reading more of Hawkins' writing.
I was quite excited to read The Wake of the Dragon, as I've recently gotten into steampunk and I've always loved adventure stories, especially historical ones. The book starts off with a bang--air pirates conducting a drug heist. Between the fun plot and the quality of the writing--which is quite good--I began the tale with enthusiasm.
I must confess, however, that I lost that enthusiasm along the way. The content is interesting and the writing is error-free (more or less), often even lyrical and witty, which is why I've given the book 4 stars. It is, technically speaking, a good novel. But for a number of reasons I found it difficult to really enjoy.
My biggest complaint is that the story telling is so reliant on exposition and internal monologue. The characters are ever thinking about all of their options, weighing and measuring, and internally stating things which are already evident. If you were to break this book down between "showing" and "telling" (a distinction that I'm not always in favor of, and shouldn't be viewed as a hard and fast rule, but, in this case, I believe is valid) you would find almost nothing but telling. All of this exposition and thinking serves to drastically slow down the pace of the book and gave it an overall feeling of being bloated and poorly balanced, in my opinion.
Despite the fact that we spend so much time in the heads of the characters, I didn't feel terribly attached to any of them. My biggest problem was with the treatment of the single female character, whose only characteristic seems to be a disturbing level of sexual promiscuity.
**DON'T READ THE NEXT SECTION IF YOU ARE OPPOSED TO SOME MILD SPOILERS**
That character, Ann, is initially presented as a feisty trouble maker. We then get the rather troubling detail that she'd made passes at her own father. Our lead treats her rather abominably at first, and I was hoping that she would show that she was either stronger, more interesting, or more dynamic as the tale went on. Instead, she commits what I can only describe as rape and her tendencies are never really addressed or developed. As the only female character, I was left feeling a bit uncomfortable by all of this. I suppose I've come to expect better treatment of female characters in modern genre fiction.
So, while I can't say I loved this book, I also can't deny that it has elements which will appeal to many readers: a fun concept and strong writing. If you are expecting a fast paced swashbuckler, I don't think this book will be exactly your cup of tea. If you like a slower paced story with a lot of focus on character feeling and choices, this will likely be right up your ally.
In a steam punk world reminiscent of Victorian London, a world where steam powered airships roam the sky and it would seam everyone and his mother succumb to the tempting embrace of opium and rum, a robbery sets the story for an adventure around the skies.
The thieves head off in their airship, captained by the incredible Captain Bonny, while the luckless Dudley, clerk of the dubious victim, Mr Wyatt gives chase.
The character of Captain Bonny is extremely well developed as he tempts the faits with his flirtations with Aide, goddess of the storm winds, always sailing a little too close to a storm so that he might feel a connection with her.
I thought this was a really well put together story that drew me along entertaining all the way. I look forward to exploring other books by this author.