Friday, September 5, 2014

Review: The Black Lung Captain by Chris Wooding

The Black Lung Captain by Chris Wooding
Series: Tales of the Ketty Jay #2
Published by Spectra
Pages: 536
Genre: Steampunk
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Darian Frey is still reeling from his last failure (stealing from orphans - or rather, not stealing from orphans) when the promise of riches beyond measure practically falls into his lap. So what if to reach it he has to drag his crew to a place where few ever return alive? So what if he is forced into partnership with a man even less trustworthy than he?

His crew members were just as they'd always been. Argumentative, dysfunctional, and ill-disciplined. Yet for all that, he was glad of them. Individually they were hopeless.  But somehow, when they were all together, they became something greater than the sum of their parts.

Another fast-paced adventure with the crew of the airship Ketty Jay. Honestly, my thoughts were all over the place as I was reading this book. At first, I thought it was going to be just like the first book in the series. Then I hit a certain clump of pages that was doing it's level best to draw me out of the book.

It was becoming what I was sure this series never would: boring. And not just that, but rather painful to read as well. Why? Because of the idiot Captain Darian Frey. It's easy to compare him to Mal Renyolds from Firefly - some might also compare him to Hans Solo and/or Indiana Jones. However, each of those guys have a benefit that Frey doesn't. They're on TV. Here, we are offered insight into Darian Frey's innermost thoughts. And let me tell you, he's my least favorite character in this book.

He really is an idiot, taking on the lovelorn role for what would typically be the leading lady. He is even a borderline (or maybe full-on) case of Too Stupid To Live. He makes bad decision after bad decision because of his 'one true love'. He's also a bit of a sexist at times, noting a woman as being beneath his notice as female because he's 'only paid attention to the pretty ones'. Indeed, it comes as something of a surprise to him when she actually acts like a woman instead of the 'brother' he had thought of her as.

Urgh! This guy...

However, all was not lost. After I forced myself around the biggest chunk of writing that made me want to strangle Frey, the other characters started developing wonderfully.

The majority of the characters in this book have something to overcome. From the humorous and still heartwarming man that must overcome his fear of a certain cat to the woman that must deal with not being fully human to the man mourning a deceased relative, all these stories were handled wonderfully. And with a certain level of humor that kept things from being maudlin and depressing.

What I think I love most about these books though, is how everyone is dysfunctional and searching for a place to belong. People that will fight beside them because none of them truly fit in the world. And they've found friends and family aboard the Ketty Jay.

This is a book that, behind the Steampunk trappings and high adventure, is all about friends. That's almost enough to make me forget how badly I want to strangle our dear Cap't. Almost.