cover image The Iron Jackal

The Iron Jackal

Chris Wooding. Titan (www.titanbooks.com), $14.95 trade paper (496p) ISBN 978-1-

With action, adventure, and blistering stupidity, the crew of the airship Ketty Jay lives down to its poor reputation, as Wooding takes a third careening trip (after The Black Lung Captain) through his chaotic steampunk world. Capt. Darian Frey would be a hero to his country if only he had a scrap of foresight or impulse control. Instead, he has a train heist to run for fellow captain Trinica Dracken, who wants to acquire a valuable relic. Frey finds out the hard way that pinched relics have a way of pinching back. Returning the relic to its rightful place is Frey’s only hope, because the cyborg Iron Jackal has been sent to retrieve it, possibly at the cost of Frey’s life. While there are moments of terror and scenes of bloody warfare, Wooding rarely lets momentum take its course. Characters spring in and out of focus, and the action is frequently interrupted by banter or slapstick comedy, even as bullets whiz overhead. The mishmash is sometimes thrilling, sometimes funny, frequently frustrating, and eventually surprisingly satisfying. (Mar.)