The second of Harland’s steampunk series initially trades in action for romance but eventually regains its footing.
After the Filthies revolted, Col Porpentine and his family were among the few swanks to stay aboard the juggernaut now called the Liberator. But the new regime has troubles galore: A saboteur stalks the halls, an anti-Swank zealot joins the Revolutionary Council and people are disappearing. It’s hard for Col to maintain a blossoming romance with revolutionary Filthy Riff in this atmosphere, and that’s before the imperial juggernauts of other nations converge upon the Liberator. Harland avoids subtlety, preferring instead to spell out every action. As a result the pace turns glacial when the writing turns to matters of the heart, but when the action gets going, it’s a breathless ride. Almost everyone here has stepped out of central casting, the mechanics of the world don’t entirely make sense (although it sounds cool) and the conflicts resolve too easily. Delightful moments abound, however, and the good guys always win, while the baddies are fun to hate and occasionally pity. The climactic fomenting of revolution aboard the Russian juggernaut is a win that leaves open the possibility of another volume.
Despite the flaws, there are pleasures to be found here, primarily for fans of the first volume. (Steampunk. 11-14)