Author: David Barnett
Series: Gideon Smith #2
Publisher: Tor Books
Publication Date: September 16, 2014
Source: I received a complimentary ecopy in exchange for a honest review.
Nineteenth century London is the center of a vast British Empire, a teeming metropolis where steam-power is king and airships ply the skies, and where Queen Victoria presides over three quarters of the known world—including the east coast of America, following the failed revolution of 1775.
Young Gideon Smith has seen things that no green lad of Her Majesty’s dominion should ever experience. Through a series of incredible events Gideon has become the newest Hero of the Empire. But Gideon is a man with a mission, for the dreaded Texas pirate Louis Cockayne has stolen the mechanical clockwork girl, Maria, along with a most fantastical weapon—a great brass dragon that was unearthed beneath ancient Egyptian soil. Maria is the only one who can pilot the beast, so Cockayne has taken girl and dragon off to points east.
Gideon and his intrepid band take to the skies and travel to the American colonies hot on Cockayne’s trail. Not only does Gideon want the machine back, he has fallen in love with Maria. Their journey will take them to the wilds of the lawless lands south of the American colonies—to free Texas, where the mad King of Steamtown rules with an iron fist (literally), where life is cheap and honor even cheaper.
Does Gideon have what it takes to not only save the day but win the girl?
David Barnett's Gideon Smith and the Brass Dragon is a fantastical steampunk fable set against an alternate historical backdrop: the ultimate Victoriana/steampunk mash-up!
When it comes to a fun steampunk adventure, Gideon Smith brings it! I enjoy the steampunk aspects and the alternative history we got to experience in this installment.
In this book, Gideon and co. travel to America to get back what was stolen at the end of the first book. I enjoyed seeing David Barnett send his adventurers into America. I always find alternative history really interesting and in this version of history, the American Revolution failed and things are still run (at least on the East coast) by the British. The Spanish have some territories in the South and the Japanese have control of California. Then there's the vastness in between these powers, a combination of nomadic tribes, lawless towns and a lot of open space.
I like reading Gideon Smith because he is so darn likable. Gideon is such a fundamental "good guy." He's idealistic and can't stand injustice of any kind. Which might become tiresome, except for his chronicler (and foil) Bent, who is completely disgusting (although not a bad guy beyond that). Then there's Rowena, the very forward airship pilot, who I unfortunately almost-but-can't-quite like. And Maria, clockwork beauty and usually full of surprises.
I like the adventure story aspect of this series. Things happen, good fights evil and all that jazz. What I like is that Gideon shows some growth in this book, as he must learn that not everything is as black-and-white as he would hope.
I wasn't a huge fan of the love triangle bit with Rowena. I'm not sure where it's going and I want something better for her than pointless pining.
Overall, Gideon Smith and the Brass Dragon was a fun steampunk adventure with the added interest of alternative history.
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