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Customer Review

95 of 109 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Steampunk with a brain., 17 Mar. 2010
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This review is from: Terminal World (Hardcover)
I have to say that I strongly disagree with the rather indifferent reviews of this book posted so far. I have read all of Reynolds' books to date and this makes a strong claim to be his best.

For starters, and almost incidentally, it is the best steampunk novel I have read. Reynolds produces a plausible plot device for examining a society trapped at a particular technological point, and his steam or dieselpunk technology is grittily plausible and realistic, not a series of fashion accessories or nostalgic anachronisms, as is all too common in this genre.

Secondly, this book requires a bit of intellectual effort on the part of the reader. The reader is required to use some imagination and to draw inferences and make conclusions from tiny nuggets of fact dropped into the characters' conversations. The book contains no "infodumps". The true nature of Spearpoint is not spelled out directly, even at the end of the novel. An observant reader will fairly quickly come to a huge revelation about the nature of Spearpoint's world which never becomes remotely obvious to any of the characters involved. One particularly ironic point is the existence of a quasi-religious "Testament", which most of the characters dismiss as mythological, but the more objective viewpoint of the reader can see is largely historical fact about the planet's history.

There are also some excellent action scenes, particularly a desperate airship assault on the city in the face of progressive technological failures, reducing the crew from machine guns and diesel engines to cutlasses and crossbows in the space of ten minutes. The characters are excellent, particularly a foul mouthed bodyguard heroine.

If you like your SF one-dimensional and spoon fed to you as easily digestible gloop, this book probably isn't for you. If you are willing to use your intellect and your imagination to fill in the tantalising gaps left by the author you will be amply rewarded.
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Showing 1-3 of 3 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 21 May 2010, 12:34:14 BST
C. S. Winter says:
You could have been right about this being Reynolds best book excepted for the final line, which is unforgivably trite grabage. Even better, if the book had ended at page 480, only half tying up loose ends suggests that the author fell between two stools of fully resolving the stories of the characters and leaving the reader to imagine what was to come once they had completed their mission.

Posted on 8 Jul 2011, 16:39:59 BST
Luther Lewis says:
Has nobody here picked up on where the book is actually set or are you trying to avoid giving spoilers? I found that bit and the clues given quite rewarding in a kind of smug exogeographical way.

Posted on 19 Jun 2012, 12:33:31 BST
John W says:
I assume the clues as to what was really going on were to be picked up and expanded in a sequel. Thankfully even he seems to have realised that's not a good idea. I thought this was boring with no interesting or engaging characters at all.
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