The Burning Sky was my very first encounter with a truly Steampunk novel. I read it more out of curiosity about the genre than anything. I’m glad I did, and I’m glad I chose this one as a starting point. This is my review.
The Burning Sky, by Joseph Robert Lewis is the first book in the Halcyon Trilogy. I found it to be the embodiment of the old writing adage that says: to create suspense, place your protagonists in a very bad situation, then make it worse. The story starts out with a horrific act of terrorism sweeping up an uninvolved mechanic on an air ship and carrying her along throughout the story. For most of the story, her plight and those of the characters that get rolled into the mix, get steadily worse. Resolution is saved for the very end.
The story is a masterful weave of multiple story lines, all winding around the main plot, although we don’t learn what that is for quite some time. However Mr. Lewis does not allow us to founder in confusion; each character’s contribution is quite interesting all on its own and the intrigue builds as they begin to coalesce and we start to make the connections.
Lewis is very good at characterization. His characters leap off the page to run and jump through the imagination, the dialogue is tight, fast, real and peppered with witticism. Each is unique, each character is powerful, each is completely believable.
The only aspect that gave me pause was the need to suspend my knowledge/belief systems long enough to accept that certain things were possible. Normally I read hard Sci-Fi and hold the authors to demonstrable scientific theory, I rarely enjoy fantasy. Although Steampunk skirts the fantasy genre, I found this story to be very enjoyable; only one aspect rung loudly as not possible, and explaining that would serve as a spoiler. However even that one thing did nothing to kill the story; I just needed to adjust my thinking a bit. The rest of the ride easily made up for that one speed bump.
I just finished The Burning Sky and am already anticipating enjoying the second book in the series: The Broken Sword. The sample included at the end of this book promises that I won’t be disappointed!