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Full disclosure: I was given a free copy of this book in return for a review.
The Wake of the Dragon is a steampunk story set in 18th century England. The Dragon--the name of the Dirigible commanded by Captain Bonny, steals a cargo of opium from a business and sets off to do away with it and profit from it. The also take the night watchman who was to guard the cargo with them on their adventure. Much of the book is consumed with the business dealings of Zachary Wyatt, the entrepreneur whose opium was stolen.
The characterization is deep and rich, and was quite enjoyable. Each character had a different flavor, which the narrator picked up, and chose tones and voices which I felt were spot on for them.
The story is largely about crews of airship pirates, however there is very little fighting to be found in the pages. Mostly the book is about different moves and countermoves, who is a spy and who is not, throughout the tale.
If steampunk seems strange or offputting, never fear. This story is not so heavily steampunk that someone unfamiliar with the genre will be lost of out of place. On the contrary, any lover of historical fiction in the 18th or 19th centuries will likely find this work to their taste. Steampunk in this case is largely a veneer placed over old England.
2 of 2 people found this review helpful
I guess, since I loved the only 2 steampunk books I’ve ever read, I was going to like the third. This one is a DNF for me instead.
Here’s why: Mister Bale, the second mate, is always drunk, with a constant bottle of rum in his hand, or high on opium. The ship’s captain decides that’s a good idea and goes to his cabin and gets high on opium, too. Then he dreams of having sex with a goddess only to find out it’s the stowaway cabin boy, who happens to be the youngest daughter of the farmer where he stashed some crates of opium because it was too heavy for his flying ship.
I have no idea what age the “youngest daughter” is or how old the captain is. But mostly I have no desire to read about 2 stoned men captaining an airship like it doesn’t take any talent at all. Actually, I don’t care to read about the main characters be high, no matter what they do. And the title of the book, The Wake of the Dragon, that’s supposedly where you “go” when you use opium. That’s “where” Captain Bonny was when Anne snuck into his cabin and they had sex, and he believed it was all a dream.
The sex was only mentioned and there was no swearing. However, I can certainly see why there are only 22 reviews on Amazon, considering it’s from May 2012, no one really wants to read about stoned main characters, at least I don't.
As to the narrator: Kevin Marchant was very good. His voices were excellent and his emotions terrific. I would definitely listen to him again, if he were reading a decent book.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
I have very limited experience with Steampunk books. I’ve only read 2 or 3, one of which I loved, while the others I barely finished. That being said, I really love the concept of steampunk in novels and enjoy it in other mediums, so I keep trying. This book seemed more in the fantasy Genre than the others I had read, which is why I decided to give it a try.
The story opens on an airship with Captain Horatio Bonny behind the wheel. The Pirates had just stolen crate upon crate of opium. Having taken on too much weight, the airship loses altitude and is forced to land on a farm. Promising coin and to take the farmer’s daughter, Anne Bardwell, away from the family, the Pirates leave half their cargo stored in the Mr. Bardwell’s barn.
Meanwhile, Zachary Wyatt arrives at his warehouse to find all of his Opium missing and his night guard unaccounted for. Furious, he sends his Clerk, James Dudley, to investigate the crime in hopes of finding some clues. Along the way he comes across and vagabond named Thomas, with whom he ends up jumping onto an airship and volunteering.
This is pretty fun book with multiple points of view. It starts off a little slow but it picks up pretty quick. The story is a little hard to follow, via audio at least, as there are times when it jumps from one character to another, without pause or warning, and it takes a minute to get acclimated. That being said, Ms. Hawkins puts together a entertaining tale of piracy, deceit, greed, and even a little self discovery.
The audio in this book had a little echo too it however, it wasn’t bad enough to take away from the performance of Kevin Marchant. Mr. Marchant has quite the talent for voices and did a great job narrating this novel. I look forward to hearing more from him.
Though it wasn’t my favorite audiobook, it was a fun listen. I would suggest it to anyone interested I steampunk or sailing/pirate novels. I plan to keep my eyes on more of Hawkins’ work in the future.
Audiobook provided for review by the author.
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