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The Ships of Air (The Fall of Ile-Rien #2)

4.1  ·  Rating Details ·  875 Ratings  ·  41 Reviews
Known for her lush, intricate worlds and complex characters, acclaimed author Martha Wells has delighted readers with her extraordinary fantasy novels of daring and wit. With The Wizard Hunters she launched her most ambitious undertaking yet -- the return to the beloved world of the Nebula Award-nominated The Death of the Necromancer and The Fall of Ile-Rien. Now the saga
Paperback, 496 pages
Published October 25th 2005 by Harper Voyager (first published June 29th 2004)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,398)
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Jun 19, 2015 Miriam rated it it was amazing
With new magical resources, the good guys start thinking they may have some minor chance of not being totally doomed.

Absolutely read volume one first as the action is in full swing here.

Additional stories about some of the characters are available free at

Edit ---------

Although I highly recommend this series, don't expect to borrow my copies.

So sad.
May 16, 2015 Aelvana rated it liked it
Tremaine and other refugees from Ile-Rien have boarded the Ravenna, a gigantic cruise ship-turned-troop transport. Technically, their goal is to jump between worlds to escape the Gardier's bombardments of Ile-Rien and jump back once they've crossed to another country. But fleeing isn't so easy. The world between their hops is home to Gardier bases, the ship has several factions aboard, and their little getaway might be far more vital to the war effort than some want.

It's hard to think of a good
Nov 30, 2015 Angela marked it as deals  ·  review of another edition
30 November 2015: $3.99 on Kindle
Jenny Koch
I'm really enjoying this intellectually fierce heroine.
Lis Carey
Jun 10, 2014 Lis Carey rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: f-sf, fiction, audiobooks
This is a middle book in a series, and begins with exciting action in progress that we subsequently have to piece together partial background for. It also ends more or less in mid-action, though the main issues of this volume are resolved enough.

I listened to the audiobook, and some spellings below are guesses. Please forgive any errors.

Tremaine Valiarde and a collection of soldiers and sorcerers from Ile-Rien have crossed into an alternate world in the former luxury liner Queen Ravenna, trying
Jul 28, 2014 Sarahz rated it liked it
Still enjoyed this one, but the plot was a bit lacking - I felt like it had some middle-book-itis, mostly just serving to get everyone from point a to point b. Still, some great character work, especially with the developing relationships between Tremaine and the Syprians who come along on the ship. Florian gets a bit backgrounded this time, and the character development I expected Ander to have never really happened, which sort of made me wonder why he was there. I guess not all jerks eventuall ...more
May 25, 2016 Donna rated it really liked it
Great second book in this trilogy. I like that Tremaine is a very complicated character--it seems at times that her anger and talk of violence are overblown, but then she calmly shoots someone in the back in the head and you realize she's going to do what she has to and deal with the demons later. My only criticism is the complete nondevelopment of the Gardier world. I get that it's a plot device--having to battle against an enemy with no understanding of why you're even being attacked--but it l ...more
Apr 19, 2016 Erica rated it it was amazing
Every once in while, you stumble upon a book (or series) that is life-changingly good. I suppose for many people, this series might just be a fun romp--danger, adventure, some plucky and refreshingly sarcastic main characters. Even just in epic fantasy terms, this series is unique in many ways (I can't recall how many fantasy/sci fi posts have ranted about things not being seen often enough for which the answer was: the Fall of Ile-Rien did it).

But for me, it went beyond that. When asked a few y
Just A. Bean
Jun 14, 2014 Just A. Bean rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
Loved it even more rereading, as I could see what everything was building up to. For a story that was about a boat getting from one side of a sea to the other, there was a lot going on. I can't say if I want to talk about specific plots because spoilers, but the romance subplot was great, leading to my two favourite scenes in the series.

I love all the little beats and call backs, like the two iron age warriors running into a portrait of the main characters from the first novel, and having a comp
Nov 26, 2012 Jim rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fantasy, steampunk
One of the things that has always drawn me to fantasy is that I love reading about the imaginative new worlds that an author creates, and meeting the people who live in them and seeing what kind of lives they lead and what their culture is like. It's like going on a voyage of exploration without leaving my living room. Martha Wells has a real talent for world-building, and it is on full display in this book. With Ile-Rien overrun, the main characters are basically in exile, traveling to unknown ...more
Lindsay Stares
Jun 16, 2012 Lindsay Stares rated it liked it
Premise: Sequel to The Wizard Hunters, Some spoilers for Book One follow. Tremaine, Ilias and their friends from both worlds try to cement the temporary alliance between their peoples. The great passenger liner Queen Ravenna is brought between the worlds to assist in an attack on the Gardier base, only to become a floating home for the combined group of Syprian delegates and refugees from Ile-Rien. New loyalties are created and tested, and hidden dangers on the ship threaten the fragile alliance ...more
Vicki G
Oct 12, 2010 Vicki G rated it did not like it
I read through this book, and knew for certain I would not finish the series. I don't know what happened in the author's life between Wizard Hunters and this book, but it must have been a pivotal event, b/c this book seems like it went way off the plot's track and into some situation that only the author understands.
By which I mean the main character changed so wildly, I no longer related to any damn thing she did nor did I understand why the character had become altered.
But by the end of the bo
Jul 01, 2016 Elena rated it really liked it
Shelves: sff
This one was a slow starter for me (perhaps because it was hard to jump right back into the world - or perhaps because the protagonist's sense of disconnection at the beginning of the book bleeds into the narrative), but it picked up after about 75 pages and continued to build in excitement and intrigue for the rest of the story. I especially appreciate the unusual characterization and worldbuilding.
Jun 22, 2014 Li rated it really liked it
For a middle book in a trilogy, this one held up very well - there were some major twists in the story… but all made perfect sense in hindsight. Needless to say, I dove into the third book, The Gate of Gods, straight after.
Aug 25, 2014 Kristin rated it it was amazing
Second verse is as good as the first. Actually, the story never even stops to take a breath between novels.

So much adventure. Keeps you guessing. Worlds built right in front of you. And just a taste of romance (usually I find romance somewhat out of place in adventures, but here the characters acknowledge it's totally out of place and that only makes it more endearing)
Apr 24, 2016 Diane rated it liked it
Shelves: fantasy
3.5 stars -- I'm still debating going up to 4. I think my main hesitation is just Tremaine's emotional distance. Plus, (view spoiler)
May 28, 2012 Macha rated it liked it
3 & 1/2 stars. i liked this one. but so far it's the only one that's come to hand, and it's the middle book of a trilogy. so i was a bit hampered getting a sense of the scale of the things. not to mention why one of the worlds (Ile-Rien) seems to be derived from our contemporary culture, only it's gone a bit towards the medieval on account of the existence of magic. so i could have used a gloss, and for that matter going with one of them there cast of characters would have been kind. the int ...more
Jul 09, 2016 Julie rated it it was amazing
I love the mature, nuanced characters. Tremaine is the best female protagonist I have read about in a long time.
Mar 06, 2016 Dantegideon rated it liked it
Dragged on a bit, then abruptly got really good near the end. Slightly baffling.
Oct 26, 2014 Liz rated it really liked it
Today's plan: devour this trilogy to avoid doing any work.
So far, so good.

This series remains incredibly fun and almost compulsively readable. Wells does the kind of steampunk that I like - brass fittings and airships, but not a whole lot of mucking around with (and thus mucking up) Victorian culture. I like epic fantasy on this scale of world wars. It reminds me of Kate Elliott's Spiritwalker Trilogy and Rae Carson's Girl of Fire and Thorn, although it antedates both. It's that kind of story wi
Jan 12, 2009 Corvidae rated it really liked it
This one was my favorite of the trilogy.

A bit of a spoiler inc: the descriptions that she uses to describe the ship that they evacuate on seemed very familiar to me. As I read, I found myself thinking, "Wow, this sounds like the Queen Mary." Also the function of the ship--luxury liner turned wartime transport--was similar to the Queen Mary. And sure enough, at the end of the book, she cites that the Queen Mary was the major inspiration for her. Living in Long Beach now, whenever I see the QM, I
Sep 07, 2013 Kristi rated it it was amazing
Loved this part of The Fall of Il-Rien! Enjoyed this first book and the second one just got better. I appreciate how this author has created worlds so believable you can just fall right into them. I like the balance of magic, mystery, suspense and romance and how those all work together to build up the tension. There was 1 little surprise I saw coming, but it was so well done, it didn't distract me from the story when it was revealed. Instead I was just excited to find out I was right. Read this ...more
Donna Clapp
Mar 29, 2015 Donna Clapp rated it it was amazing
A little stiff at the beginning as the author attempts to re-introduce characters unobtrusively. Honestly, I think it would have been better either to throw us in or put a little "Previously, during the fall of Ile-Rien..." preface.

These characters are simply wonderful, with the biggest cheer going to Tremaine, the complicated, snarky, brilliant, driven playwright.
Aug 01, 2013 Laura rated it it was amazing
I love Martha Wells' Ile-Rien series. I wish she would write more! (unlikely, apparently, unless her publisher comes around)

This, the second of the Fall of Ile-Rein trilogy, is my very favorite of the Ile-Rien books (overcoming stiff competition from The Element of Fire, the first Ile-Rein book I read).

Read this trilogy in order. I gave them all five stars. But, even though the middle book is often just the bridge, in this trilogy it is my favorite.
Jun 28, 2016 Taica rated it liked it
Shelves: read-next
I would give it 3.5 if I could. Despite it being a war story, it is well written and has a distinctly feminist overtone, which I love in a fantasy novel. The character development is good, and the story is imaginative. The reader is wonderful in some ways, but in others, she puts her emphasis in strange places. Doable though.
Dec 16, 2008 kvon rated it liked it
Shelves: librarybook, re-read
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jun 18, 2013 Mykl rated it really liked it
While I do enjoy this series overall the Raksura series seemed to be a notch better. The book does a very good job having a secondary character killed and exploring the impact upon the main character. Of course having Nicholas on board again only thickens the plot.
Feb 09, 2010 Aneel rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
My first book from the SFPL. Sequel to The Wizard Hunters. A solid continuation of the story from the first book. Wells is doing a good job of revealing the over-arching plot slowly, but bringing things together for the end of each book.
Apr 02, 2016 Angela rated it liked it
Really been enjoying rereading the series and listening to the audiobooks.
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Martha Wells is the author of over a dozen SF/F novels, including Wheel of the Infinite, City of Bones, The Element of Fire, and the Nebula-nominated The Death of the Necromancer. She has a fantasy trilogy: The Wizard Hunters, The Ships of Air, and The Gate of Gods, currently out in paperback, ebook, and audiobook.

Her most recent fantasy novels are The Books of the Raksura series: The Cloud Roads
More about Martha Wells...

Other Books in the Series

The Fall of Ile-Rien (3 books)
  • The Wizard Hunters (The Fall of Ile-Rien, #1)
  • The Gate of Gods (The Fall of Ile-Rien, #3)

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“Annoying people is something of a talent of mine. I gave it up for a while, but lately it's started to come back to me.” 0 likes
“The report was so loud Nicholas thought the guard had fired into his head. He staggered as the man’s grip fell away, his hand going to his cheek. He felt the warm wetness of blood, but it wasn’t his. He looked for the Gardier and saw him sprawled on the ground, one neat bullet hole in his forehead. He straightened up, reaching for a handkerchief until he remembered the damn uniform jacket had no pockets. Wiping the blood away with his hand, he said under his breath, “I knew emphasizing firearms training over deportment lessons would benefit in the long run.”

His daughter moved toward him, lowering the pistol, staring.”
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