Friday, 2 October 2009

The Kingdom Beyond the Waves by Stephen Hunt

This post is adapted from one I made on my other blog thing.

One of my three favourite books from 2008 was The Kingdom Beyond the Waves and by Stephen Hunt.

The book defies easy description. It's a science fiction/fantasy/steampunk/alternative history novel that may be set in the distant past or the distant future. The action starts in the state of Jackals which seems to be based on a 19th Century Britain, only with computers called "transaction engines" and instead of the Royal Navy or Royal Air Force we have the RAN - the Royal Aerostatical Navy which uses giant airships to keep military superiority.

Except those are just side details. The novel deals with the quest to find the missing mythical city of Camlantis, a city that thousands of years before disappeared into the sky during the last dark age. Professor Amelia Harsh joins the mercenary crew of a u-boat to venture down a dangerous river in Heart of Darkness fashion to search for the city. Danger lurks outside the u-boat and inside it as well because some characters have their own agenda.

I don't want to say too much as discovering the details is as much part of the fun as the overall story. The novel is a long one at 556 pages but fairly rattles along packed with incident and cliffhangers aplenty.

Stephen Hunt has written a previous book set in the same world called The Court of the Air and earlier this year the third book, The Rise of the Iron Moon, was published.

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