Jan 19, 2012

The Court of the Air, by Stephen Hunt

This is the second book by Hunt that I've read, though I seem to have read them out of order. Luckily, the two stories are only very tenuously tied together, so it doesn't make much of a difference. This is pure steampunk fantasy, through and through, remarkable mainly for the complete universe Hunt has created. You can tell that he really thought through all aspects of his world, rather than just making things up as he went along. This world has a complex political system, a well-fleshed out religion (though I'd personally like a bit more explanation of the Circlist faith, but that may just be my interest in religion in general talking), and believable, if odd, characters.

The book suffers a bit from an overabundance of main characters. We have Molly, Oliver, Prince Alphaeus, Commodore Black, Tzlayloc, King Steam, Nickelby, Harry Stave...you get my drift. Hunt probably would have been better served to focus more on Molly and Oliver, the two characters on which the narrative truly hinges. It is also a bit odd that there is so much more about Molly in the first part of the book, then we only get short glimpses of her later on, despite the fact that is, quite literally, the savior of her world.

Having read Hunt's later book, I do know that he fixed the problem of spreading his characters too thin. Still, he seems to suffer from not knowing how to cut his plot down a bit. The books are good, and I like reading them, but they're a bit on the complex side, more like a miniseries than a movie. I'm interested to read something else of his, to see whether that problem resolves itself with a more heavy-handed editor.

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