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I Belong

Review: The Guns Above by Robyn Bennis

Title: The Guns Above

Author: Robyn Bennis

Genre: Steampunk

Series: Signal Airship (Book #1)

Publication Date: May 2, 2017

Format: Hardcover, 352 Pages

ISBN-10: 0765388766 (Tor/Macmillan)

ISBN-13: 978-0765388766 (Tor/Macmillan)

Reviewed by: Steph


The nation of Garnia has been at war for as long as Auxiliary Lieutenant Josette Dupris can remember – this time against neighboring Vinzhalia. Garnia’s Air Signal Corp stands out as the favored martial child of the King. But though it’s co-ed, women on-board are only allowed “auxiliary” crew positions and are banned from combat. In extenuating circumstances, Josette saves her airship in the heat of battle. She is rewarded with the Mistral, becoming Garnia’s first female captain.

She wants the job – just not the political flak attached. On top of patrolling the front lines, she must also contend with a crew who doubts her expertise, a new airship that is an untested deathtrap, and the foppish aristocrat Lord Bernat – a gambler and shameless flirt with the military know-how of a thimble. He’s also been assigned to her ship to catalog her every moment of weakness and indecision. When the Vins make an unprecedented military move that could turn the tide of the war, can Josette deal with Bernat, rally her crew, and survive long enough to prove herself to the top brass?

Quick & Dirty: Highly entertaining and fast paced, this book is a must read for steampunk fans.

Opening Sentence: Josette Dupre woke atop a bleak and stony hill, her head throbbing, her uniform soaked in blood, and the thunder of the cannons still echoing in her ears.

Excerpt: Yes

The Review:

Garnia has been at war for as long as Josette can remember, and she wants to do her part to serve her country. While the military in Garnia is technically integrated, women are only allowed auxiliary ranks, no command positions, and aren’t allowed to actually fight. No one is more surprised than Josette, therefore, when, after her actions in a battle get her noticed by the papers, Josette is given a promotion to lieutenant as well as command of her own airship. She also acquires a spy on board her ship, Bernat, put their by his uncle, who is determined to see Josette fail and wants Bernie to report back to him with any information that could help in that endeavor. Once he actually sees Josette in action though, will Bernie be able to follow through with his uncle’s demands, or will he fight alongside the nation’s first female airship commander?

I don’t think I’m going to be able to adequately express how much I adored this book. It was just fantastic. I want to give it the highest rating I can so badly, but there are a couple negative aspects of the book that need to be mentioned, so I don’t feel quite right giving it a perfect score.

Let’s get the negatives out of the way first. If you’re someone who enjoys deep character development, you are probably going to be disappointed because the characters honestly aren’t developed that much throughout the story. Of our two main characters, Bernie probably gets the most development, but it’s still pretty shallow. That’s not to say though that you don’t end up feeling connected to them as characters. I definitely did, even if their characters weren’t developed very deeply.

The only other negative aspect of the book is that, in the beginning half, there are quite a few descriptions of the layout of the airship, and it can be kind of dull. The descriptions are broken up nicely with dialogue between characters, but it still can feel tedious as you’re going through it.

Now, on to the good stuff. I have to say that I don’t think I’ve ever read a book that has such well written fight scenes before. It literally felt like I was there with the characters in the battle, feeling every hit, seeing splinters flying, smelling cannon smoke. It was absolutely amazing. And since the latter half of the book is full of battles, I never wanted to put the book down. I was completely mesmerized and wanted to see how everything was going to play out.

Lastly, the book is full of humor, and it’s the kind that doesn’t try too hard to be funny, which makes it truly entertaining. Yes, the sexism can be infuriating at times, but it can also bring a chuckle from time to time because it’s so ridiculous.

All in all, this was a fabulous book. I was entertained from start to finish. Towards the end, I found myself wishing that the book was longer because I didn’t want the journey to end. I will most definitely be waiting anxiously for Book 2!

Notable Scene:

“Honestly, sir, in the course of my life I have become half-convinced that one god is as good as another.”

Bernat sighed at the man’s stupidity. “One god as good as another? Would you say the same about . . .” He searched for an analogy, and found one when he glanced at his feet. “Would you say that one pair of shoes is as good as any other? Of course not.”

The Sotrian nodded, apparently nearing enlightenment. “So . . . your God is like a superior pair of shoes, and their God is an inferior pair?”

“Exactly!” Bernat said.

“And this is why you must kill them? Over their poor taste in footwear?”

“Yes!” Bernat said, and then, “No. Not just because of that. It’s . . . it’s complicated.”

“I’m beginning to appreciate the complexity, sir. I feel quite a fool now, for naively assuming the whole affair was over Quah’s considerable mineral wealth.”

Bernat racked his mind, trying to come up with a way to explain it that was simple enough for this man to understand. “Let’s say you come across a man in the street, wearing a rotten old pair of shoes.”

“Shoes with goat horns and three eyes?”

“Precisely. And you happen to have an extra pair of much better shoes.”

“Which, if I remember my Garnian theology,” the Sotrian said, “would be the personification of the sun, birthed from the mouth of the world, and advised by a pantheon of deified saints?”

“Indeed. Very nice footwear, you see?”

“That is surely beyond question, sir.”

“Well?” Bernat asked.

“Well what, sir?”

“Wouldn’t you give your extra shoes to the man whose own shoes were dilapidated and festering with eyeballs?”

“I might,” the Sotrian said. “But what if he didn’t want to take them? Should I force the matter, even to the point of killing him?”

“Well, it’s hardly our fault, if that’s what it takes to put the man in a decent pair of shoes!”

Signal Airship Series:

1. The Guns Above


FTC Advisory: Tor provided me with a copy of The Guns Above. No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review.

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