cover image Retribution Falls

Retribution Falls

Chris Wooding, Spectra, $16 trade paper (480p) ISBN 978-0-345-52251-1

This slow-moving but inventive series starter from steampunk author Wooding (The Fade) introduces Darian Frey, captain of the Ketty Jay, and a varied gang of smalltime freebooters. When a routine heist goes horribly wrong, Frey is charged with murder and piracy and must flee from the authorities (and an old flame out for revenge). To make matters worse, Frey's crew owes him no loyalty; he's the captain only because he owns their aerium-fueled aircraft. It's up to Frey to keep them together long enough to figure out who set them up—and why. As their secrets gradually emerge, the characters grow in depth and complexity, especially Crake, the angst-ridden daemonist, and Jez, the taciturn navigator. Beautifully crafted prose and some remarkably imaginative scenes prop up the sluggish plot, and Wooding's sprawling, multifaceted world and rough-and-tumble action will delight steampunk fans. (May)