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THE COURT OF THE AIR by Stephen Hunt


by Stephen Hunt

Pub Date: June 1st, 2008
ISBN: 978-0-7653-2042-1
Publisher: Tor

Doorstopper steampunk fantasy from British newcomer Hunt.

Hunt’s world is a curious past-future blend of aerostats, mechanical computers, psychic powers, self-willed steam-powered robots, Elder gods, talking superweapons and more. When orphan Molly Templar, sold from the local workhouse to a high-class bordello, starts work, her first client turns out to be an assassin. Molly escapes with the help of a steamman (she can fix damaged machines in a trice) and eventually learns from King Steam that she has a rare blood type—and that every person that shared it has been murdered. Elsewhere, another seemingly ordinary orphan, Oliver Brooks, lived four years inside the otherworldly “feymist”; since even brief exposure to feymist causes terrifying psychic powers to develop, the authorities are deeply suspicious of him. (Those less fortunate, whose powers develop, are cruelly enslaved or permanently consigned to dungeons.) Oliver returns home to find his uncle’s household massacred, with disreputable spook Harry Stave the sole survivor. Together Harry and Oliver flee for their lives. After more than half a book’s worth of adventures, the protagonists—youthful ciphers whose function is limited to forwarding the plot and acquiring the superpowers necessary to its culmination—finally meet, having discovered that they’re the good guys in a struggle of prodigious and dystopian import. Watching everything are observers from the Court of the Air, a cadre of executioners dedicated to curbing powerful ambitions and government excess—or so they claim.

Almost too inventive—it’s just one jaw-dropping page after another—with hypercomplicated, barely intelligible plotting set forth in a breathless style: Harry Potter mugs H.P. Lovecraft, and L. Ron Hubbard explains it all.