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VINE VOICEon 2 October 2012
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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on 4 April 2014
Trying hard to be a rip-roaring adventure set in a nameless world – this is Steampunk. I never quite got on with steampunk. This version was frankly formulaic, often relying on the laddishness of the world in place of plot development and riddled with the overuse of adverbs (she said bitchily), women are either whores or a wink away from offering themselves, apart from one, who isn’t really a human entity. Not that one expects realism in steampunk.

Apologies to all who like the sub-genre for this review, but really folks, this could have been set anywhere and relies entirely on fast moving fights in air and on land. It reminded me of the Musketeers series currently gracing our TV screens, unoriginal plotting, formulaic characterisation, the best thing about it was the Poker-like game and instructions on how to play at the end of the book. I tried to like it for what it was and there was some interest for me in the character Jez, and I liked the cat Slag and Bess the golem. The writing values were absolutely terrible. Every cliché under the sun, and then some. I guess it just wasn’t for me.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 29 July 2011
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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on 7 January 2011
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.

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on 22 September 2010
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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on 3 April 2018
Bought the four KETTY JAY books on Kindle a few years' back. Space adventure ... light-hearted and fun. A la Serenity/Firefly style of thing. Just had to buy a paper copy for my bookshelf.
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on 31 July 2012
I bought this book after reading another of Chris Wooding's books. My partner and i took it in turns to read it, and neither of us could put it down. It's got very British humour, and follows the lives of a defunct group of sky pirates - they'd call themselves freebooters.
Excellent character developments, the story follows everyone's POV, and the storyline is also very engaging.
This book is a little bit of everything. Adventure, action, fantasy/sci fi (but just a little) steampunk (not pretentiously), comedy, mystery, crime, even a little romance of sorts. A great swashbuckling adventure, that continues into it's follow on novels, which are all equally as good. (Not your typical sequels)
I can't wait for the next novel in the series, and cannot speak highly enough of the tales of the Ketty jay.
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on 29 December 2012
Start was reasonable, middle was good, ending was disappointing. This felt a lot like the pilot episode of a TV series, simply because it worked incredibly hard to establish important, diverse relationships between the major characters but also went to great lengths to keep them alive.

I do enjoy his writing style, particularly some of the dialogue, but it was hard to be gripped by the intensity of the characters and actually care about them. They had innovative elements and were well drawn, so I'll be interested to see how the author evolves as a writer with what I assume will be a sequel.
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on 4 March 2016
Took a while to start to enjoy this book as I gradually grew to like the characters the more they are developed. That experience matches the journey of the Captain and crew of the Ketty Jay. The relationships between the characters drive the book as much as the story. Against the initial odds, I bought the second book straight away and the adventures continue. Good fun, an easy read. To make a five the story would need a bit more depth and levels of complexity.
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on 1 December 2011
What is there not to love about this book? It's difficult to find another book to compare this too, to give you an idea what to expect, maybe think Star Wars crossed with Pirates of the Caribbean and you will have some idea. A good old fashioned pirate adventure set in a futuristic / retro world of airships, star fighters, pistols and cutlasses. The characters are superbly well developed, each has their own story which comes out as the book progresses, and just as a pirate crew should, range from the insane to the brilliant, but with one thing in common, all of them running from something. The pace of the book is unrelentingly fast, with lots of great action scenes and as any pirate book should be full of scheming characters all of whom are pursuing their own angle and won't let anyone else get in their way. Thoroughly recommended, I think Black Bart would have really enjoyed this book.
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