Friday, September 17, 2010
Retribution Falls: Tales of the Ketty Jay
I first started hearing about Retribution Falls in 2009 when some of the better known bloggers began to review it. Although it sounded more like science fiction than fantasy, they raved about it so much that I picked it up for a look when I saw it in a book store down here in Oz. Reading the back cover blurb, and the first couple of pages told me all I needed to know, and I bought the book. For the next week or so I spent time in the alien land of Vardia during my morning and afternoon commute, and totally loved every moment of it. A little over a month ago the sequel; The Black Lung Captain, was released (it took this long to reach Australia), so I reread Retribution Falls in preparation. Unlike long running series with huge gaps between books (we all know what I'm talking about) there wasn't really any need to reread it, but I did it anyway because it's so much damn fun.
It's rather hard to categorise Retribution Falls, it has elements of fantasy, science fiction and steampunk. I file it under R for rip roaring adventure.
Darian Frey is a morally bankrupt pilot who has one thing of value in his life; his cargo freighter the Ketty Jay. He operates just outside the law, he and his crew of misfits scrape by picking up barely legal jobs, so when Frey is offered the chance at some easy money he jumps at it. Things go horribly wrong and the crew of the Ketty Jay are wanted outlaws and running for their lives, it's going to take all of Frey's ingenuity and every talent that his crew has at their disposal to get out of this alive.
The characters and the story, particularly early on, are very reminiscent of Joss Whedon's short lived and much missed sci-fi/western show Firefly, but after a while it settles down and finds a voice of it's own. The characters are all well drawn and multi layered, most have secrets that they'd rather not become public knowledge and it is their terrible pasts that have thrown them together.
The world is well drawn, and instead of being hammered with information overload about it's history and cultures readers are fed this gradually, as if one would if they stepped into the world, readers are also left with just enough to know what's going on and how things work, but at the same time left wanting more, which will allow Wooding to build the world over a number of books.
Once in a while a reader is privileged to discover what I feel is a 'perfect storm' in book form, one where everything works and the end is dreaded. Retribution Falls is one such book.