Susan Reads: Retribution Falls

WoW!  That’s all I can say.

Who doesn’t love the TV series Firefly?  Who doesn’t want to see Firefly come back?

Retribution Falls is about as close to a Firefly clone as you can get.  Better yet, Firefly crossed with League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, in a rough-and-ready blend of space faring steam punk. From almost the first chapter, the parallels, whether planned or endemic to the genre, are uncanny at times.

Have I got your attention yet?

Darian Frey is the captain of the Ketty Jay, a second-rate ship he won on a bet, but it’s the only home he’s got. Frey is a minor-stakes air space pirate, picking up small legal jobs here and other illegal ones there, hoping to make enough to keep his ship running and his crew fed, with a few coins of profit left over (sound familiar yet?).  His crew is made up of a rag-tag group of misfits, each one on the run with secrets they’d prefer to keep hidden, from the secretive but aristocratic Crake (my mind cast Paul Bettany in the role) to the quirky navigator Jez, who can manage to fake death a little too easily (I can picture Angelina Jolie here), and more.

When Frey and his crew are framed for blowing up a ship during a petty robbery, he finds himself on the run for his life – but are the Century Knights after him, or one of his crew? Frey’s attempts to unravel the mysteries lead him down a trail of old flames and bad memories, while the secrets of his crew slowly come to light. The path of salvation appears to lie in a pirates’ haven called Retribution Falls, a place of myth no ship has ever returned from. Frey must make hard choices – entrust his beloved ship to someone else in case of emergency, or run the risk of execution if captured. In the end, Frey and crew find that being an oddball among a group of oddballs makes you nothing but normal, and that to get trust you also have to give a little.

I read one review of the book that nit-picked every line of dialogue and every motivation of every character until there was nothing left. That really irked me. Even as a writer, I don’t read a fiction book to beat the story to death. I want a good story that holds my attention, characters that I can relate to whether through abhorrence or camaraderie, and a thread of believability – I’ll believe your unicorns can fly, but don’t tell me they have dainty little shoulders. Beyond that – I don’t care that females or mermaids or talking parrots are underrepresented. I don’t care if air pirates are passé. I don’t care if you think mechanical golems are cliché. This is the way this story goes. The characters and situations read like the first of a series, and in a good series, it takes time to fully develop all the characters – otherwise, what’s the point of a series?  If you put all the food out at a banquet at once, who cares about the next course? 

If any book deserves to be made into a film – or better yet, TV series – this is the one.Read it. Enjoy it. It’s worth every page.

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