Publisher: Self published (December 22, 2015)
Length: 283 pages
My Rating: 3.5 stars
Romulus Buckle returns in the third installment of his serialized steampunk adventures!
In the first two books (The City of the Founders and The Engines of War), the focus of the story was on the sky, specifically the silvery shape of the Pneumatic Zeppelin cutting through the clear blue, captained by its swashbuckling commander Romulus Buckle and his amazing crew. And as the beloved zeppelin carried its colorful cast of characters from adventure to adventure, the Snow World and its post-apocalyptic California came into vivid life; the mesmerizing steampunk societies and their amazing creations pulling a reader in, as a horrible threat to the fragile peace of this place arose and entangled our heroic airman and his companions in a deadly struggle for survival!
In The Luminiferous Aether, however, Romuls Buckle finds himself pulled from the bridge of his beloved zeppelin and immersed in an arena he is totally unfamiliar with.
Quickly, it becomes apparent that Romulus Buckle has set out on yet another quest; this time to uncover the fate of his beloved sister Elizabeth, whom he had once believed was killed in the early stages of the war with the Founders. But, now, the daring dirigible driver knows Elizabeth lives and, more, that she is a prisoner of the hated Founders, and so, with the belief that she is being held in fabled Atlantis, the Pneumatic Zeppelin heads off to the shady port of Vera Cruz, where Romulus is determined to find a submersible to transport him to the underwater city!
Accompanied by only a handful of his motley crew, Romulus’ path leads to a pirate in Vera Cruz. This submersible commander more than willing to run the Founder’s naval blockade of the city and take them to Atlantis — for the right price. Yet he warns his potential employer that the risk in daring to run the Founders naval blockade is very, very great and that even if they arrive at their intended destination Romulus might not find the Atlanteans greeting to be very warm — even though he brings an offer of alliance from the other clans.
From this beginning, Mr. Preston weaves a tale of sheer fun, filled with underwater battles and alien monsters, political machinations and familial fraticide, daring do and mesmerizing cliffhangers. Every page is like a roller coaster of thrills and chills; one leading seamlessly to the next until Romulus Buckle’s latest adventure seemingly has flown by before your eyes — the pages literally devoured in your haste to discover how it will all end.
As always the strength of the story is the balancing act of beloved characters with daring do. Romulus, Max, Penny Dreadful, Sabrina and all the rest might not be the most complex people in literature, but they are amazingly likable and have surprising depth for heroes who spend most of their time running, fighting, and stumbling from one grand adventure to the next; depth which turns them from strangers into intimate friends, whom a reader will want to see safely home at the end of their latest adventure.
As for any weakness in the story, it would probably be the non-stop action. The Chronicles of the Pneumatic Zeppelin are adrenaline-filled affairs; each daring zeppelin battle, submersible clash, or sword fight leading directly into the next with very little time for a reader to take a breath. Oh, it is action-packed fun with absolutely no dull moments, but I could see where some people might like a few chapters interspersed in the fun to develop the world more or allow Mr. Preston to delve into deeper character development.
After having completed my third adventure with Romulus Buckle, I have to say this is one of my favorite series. It is a fun, exciting place to spend a few hours fighting bad guys, uncovering hidden secrets, and familiarizing myself with an amazing steampunk world. As I’ve said several times before, it reminds me very much of the original Star Trek, especially the crew camaraderie and the daring do of a beloved Captain, which is a great compliment in my book as I was a huge fan of the original series growing up. Now all we need is an introductory speech for Romulus to say at the beginning of each adventure. Something like . . . The sky: the final frontier. These are the adventures of the Pneumatic Zeppelin. Its mission: to visit strange new parts of the Snow World, to thwart at every step the diabolical plans of the Founders, to boldly go where no zeppelin has gone before!
Well, you get the idea. But, like I’ve already said, I really like this series, and I would highly recommend it to anyone looking for an entertaining read.
I received a copy of this book from the author in return for an unbiased and honest review. The opinion you have read is mine and was not influenced by anyone else.