Another doorstopper steampunk fantasy set in the furiously overcrowded and hard-to-fathom universe of The Court of the Air (2008).
Obsessed with finding and exploring the lost city of Camlantis, believed to be sailing high in the atmosphere beyond the ability of Jackals’ aerial navy to penetrate, archaeology professor Amelia Harsh forms an alliance with superrich businessman Abraham Quest. Clues to Camlantis' lost superscience and current whereabouts may be found at the bottom of a crater lake in tropical Liongeli, whose lifeforms have evolved into an entity known as the Greenmesh. Lacking access to an airship—paranoid Jackals jealously guards its government monopoly—Abraham has refurbished an antique submarine and provided a squad of hulking female marines; Amelia persuades Commodore Black to command a crew of criminals and slavers, with an insane steam-man to navigate. But wait, there’s more: the ominously lurking Court of the Air, Jackals’ hostile neighbor Quatershift (think French revolution), craynarbians (humanoid lobsters), lashlites (humanoid birds), not to mention an entire subplot involving the shapeshifting aristocratic refugee Furnace-Breath Nick and his outcast lashlite sidekick Septimoth.
Vividly and vigorously narrated, with splashes of humor. But in a universe where anything can happen, it's rarely possible to care when something does.