Jaq D Hawkinswriting 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.
This was my first Steampunk novel; immediately I'm wondering my neglect. Hawkinswriting 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.