In 1816, Gregory Conan Watts's chronicle of the adventures begun in Dawn of Steam: First Light continues – as does the Year Without a Summer. The crew of the airship Dame Fortuna travel to four continents and are embroiled in combat on three of them: conflict with New Spain in Britain's American colonies, an ambush in Machu Picchu, and entanglement in the Maori Potato Wars in New Zealand. As they progress through darkened skies, Gregory gradually discovers that nothing at all was as he thought it was. All his assumptions are cast into doubt: what their orders are, which tales of foreign lands are true, and what parts of the social order as he knows it really are natural. Also in doubt is whether they will all survive the experience. Dawn of Steam: Gods of the Sun is an alternate-history, early-era Steampunk epistolary novel.
Jeffrey Cook lives in Maple Valley, Washington, with his wife and three large dogs. He has lived all over the United States. He’s contributed to a number of role-playing game books for Deep7 Press out of Seattle, Washington, but First Light is his first novel. When not reading, researching or writing, Jeffrey enjoys role-playing games and watching football.
Cook, a native of the Pacific Northwest, writes from a time period when that region lay vast and wild, untamed and mostly uninhabited. If I thought First Light was an adventure from the turn of the nineteenth century... Gods of the Sun was a veritable time machine!
So much of the steampunk genre focuses heavily on the mechanisms of the era, leaving the setting within the confines of Industrialized Victorian London. Cook, like Sir James Coltrane and his intrepid crew, dares to circumnavigate the world and show us the hitherto "untouched" regions beyond the "known" world of the time, in all their native glory. "First Light" took us westward and south across the Americas, and now the mission brings us East across the Atlantic to Australia and Southern Asia. In his mission to expand the world of early-nineteenth-century Earth, Cook does not neglect his characters. We have been introduced and become acquainted already; now connections are drawn or withheld as we become friends with some characters and count others as enemies. In addition to the natural dangers involved with flying a dirigible around the world, Cook brings human emotions through his narrative: there is betrayal and uncertainty, sorrow and vindication, camaraderie and cold shoulders. Just as the relations between the characters are changing, the mission changes in the wake of unforeseen tragedy. An astonishing revelation completely shifts Gregory's initial perspective on the entire journey and the people involved. All of this is lovingly and faithfully recorded in true journalistic retrospect. Honestly, in reading some of the more harrowing accounts I felt like I was in that time period, reading of current events, and I had to remind myself more than once, "Well, he's writing about all this stuff that has already happened, so I know they survived!" Granted, this installment felt quite a bit longer than the last one, but maybe that is because things are not so fresh and new and exciting, and, like Cordelia, we are sensing the impending end to this marvelous journey and now only wish for a safe return for the ones we have come to love!
Dawn of Steam:Gods of the Sun is the second book in this trilogy. I think the writing has definitely improved and is even more polished. I also felt like the flow of the story was very clear without diverting from the main story-line, but there are bits and pieces that add to it. There's are still hints of steampunk elements thrown in here and there, but it's not over the top. It adds more to the background of the story, rather than being the focal point, which is a very creative approach.
Nearly all of the characters from the first book are still in the story, with the addition of a few new faces. For the most part, many of the characters seem to have stayed the same, however some have "grownup" more. The newer characters aren't really fleshed out yet, I think we'll be learning more about them in the book to come.
I really enjoyed this story, I felt like there was more anticipation as to what was going to happen, than in the previous one. You're also going to get a lot more mystery, and have to think about whats going to come next. There's even more action in this one as well, which was fun. Altogether, I'd definitely recommend this series, it feels action packed, but at the same time its a thought provoking book.
I received this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.
Jeffery Cook asked me to read his novel "Dawn of Steam: Gods of the Sun". It is the second book in his Dawn of Steam series. I rated the first one highly and you can that review at this link. I was excited to read this and it fulfilled my expectations. I will examine Plot, Character and Polish and then assign a grade.
The main cast is continuing their exploration but in a significantly different context. The term Wham Episode is appropriate for a letter in the first arc of this book. Things are substantially more difficult for the Coltrane Crew this time around. For instance, they can't take the airship for granted and the probability that will die violently far away from home is a daily occurrence. I would go into detail but that would involve divulging a fundamental change in the status quo. What I can say is that the opposing airship crew is much more prominent in this volume and has different goals than the Coltrane Crew.
There is a great plot progression. There are five arcs in this story based on the location of their setting. Each one is simultaneously self-contained with its own introduction, climbing action and climax while at the same time building up to the box's climax and working to progress the series' overall story. This three layer structure is tricky to pull of but Mr.Cook does it very well, and not only that but he does it in the epistolary format, 'and not only that' but there is a two way distinction in the way in which this is done. Greggory has three methods of recording this adventure: personal journal, letters to his employer and letters to his girlfriend, and all of them are different in the style he writes it and the information he provides. For instance, he is professional in the employer letters, affectionate in the girlfriend letters and only puts private information that he does not plan on sharing with anyone in the personal journals. Secondly, Greggory is not the only one recording the journey. There are also letters and journal entries from other members of the crew showing their private thoughts and plans and perspectives that differ from Greg's.
The ending is great. Like the previous, it contains one section of the overall journey and ends neatly at a stopping place. No cliffhanger is needed to force interest from readers because there are plenty of sequel hooks that are well imbedded within the story itself.
Greggory's character development is fantastic. -->In the first book he had a well conceived and defined outlook on the world and its people, and he considered this to be "natural". He often commented on how Sam Bowe was an anomaly as a human being because she was the opposite of what he thought all women were. Now he realizes that there is a difference between what is "natural" and what is "normal" and specifically how "normal" is relative to one's location and company. His present location and company on the Coltrane airship have a different definition of "normal" compared to the society he is part of in England. -->A second development is Action Survivor. In this book he has to lead companies of men into battle, defend forts and climb mountains. His role on the airship is chronicler and his role in the Napoleonic Wars was messenger but he performs these roles as well as he is able to. It's a running gag for him to write something along the lines of "it was an exciting experience but I never ever want to do it again".
The Coltrane siblings are also substantially developed. The reader learns with Greg about their history, the origin of their teamwork and the true extent of their skills and fame. Jillian has a journal entry that is fascinating in comparison to her behavior as described by Greg and James has a particularly moving journal entry near the end.
The other members of the crew continue to develop as well. Penn becomes the forefront cultural anthropologist in the places they visit and Sam Bowe has a The World Is Just Awesome viewpoint.
Unlike the first book there is now a clearly defined villain. In a way their appearance is sudden and shocking and in a way it is not. In either case, I find them to be a good and appropriate villain.
The epistolary format is well maintained.
There are letter heads, dates (or not in Sam Bowe's case) and notes about whether or not Cordelia had to translate the letter from some other language into English (in the case of Jillian and James Coltrane). The style of writing is also different.
Most importantly, there are few direct quotes for dialogue. I always found it strange in the frame narrative of "the character is writing all this down in-universe" that the writer can remember the exact wording that each character uses for when they write down the event later. In this case, Greg only gives occasional quotes such as something Sam Bowe said which struck him as particularly odd or James Coltrane's Rousing Speech.
Trickster Eric Novels gives "Dawn of Steam: Gods of the Sun" an A+
I enjoyed Gods of the Sun much better than First Light. There was more excitement with them returning to New Orleans and Sir James being taken hostage. York fled and headed to Peru, City of Gold. The group followed and was way more welcomed than York. A rescue attempt didn't work. York fled again and so did the group. They had to stop at New Zealand on the shores. York was no where in sight, but they knew he wasn't far. The group befriended the Maori people just in time for the best fight so far. The details and action made this a read that I couldn't put down. The rescue was great. but they did loose one of their own to murder. Broken in sprit and ship alike, they headed to Australia to recover, heal and repair. Sir James was in real bad shape and they weren't sure if he would make it. They burred their murdered comrade and loved one in the town they decided to stay in. While the healing process happened, some took to exploring the land, some to making allies in town, some to work on the ship and some for just some time alone. With no sign of York, life was as good as expected. One day a letter just showed up on the ship. It wanted all of them to meet with this unknown person. It was a 2 hour trip to the unknown. Mean while the land was being explored and mapped showing a passage. Mr. Franzini started his business and with his allies tried to take the ship. They knew he was trouble. Miss Penn confessed why and who put them two on the ship. She was forgiven, but he was shipped of to sail into the wild blue yonder. There was a lot of confessions and forgiveness amongest them all. Some right away, some took a little longer. When all was healed and the ship fully repaired, the set out for their most important mission of all. They headed to Nepal and the most difficult exploring so far. Way more difficult then the wars they fought. But the success of this mission will prove that Mr. Bowe"s book is not fiction. Nepal could of had more action of some kind in it. After the rest of the book, it was a little bit of a let down. The story line, action and details of the war, Sir James capture by York and their mystery person, made this a very exciting read and I just wanted to keep going. I was shocked that ? was the mystery man. Never in a million years did I think it was going to be that person. I am looking forward to the next book and their trip to Japan.
I love this from the start as the narrator has a bold candor about her that I appreciate. Names are *not * changed to protect the innocent in this fun, ‘tell all’! It reads as honest and objective while still being humorous at times.
Gregory is a very well developed character; his devotion to Cordelia is endearing and although it is his POV we are treated to while this is revealed, it feels true that he does not have eyes for any of the other females out for his attention. His way of inserting his personal opinions through relaying observations of the other characters is often humorous. He seems to share more when in stressful situations which works well for me, as I enjoy the drama.
It gets interesting early on when the group finds themselves in an… awkward situation, bumping up the drama and mystery that are going on during this journey. As with any adventure, there are other difficult situations that arise, interesting challenges and the humor manages to continue to show through. All of this makes for a rather fun read.
While I loved the first book in this series as well, I do think this one flowed a bit more smoothly. Overall, the writing is good and many of the characters are very well developed. Those making a repeat appearance are consistent and of course the new ones add to the adventure. I look forward to Book 3 in the series and recommend it to other readers!
This is book #2 in the Dawn of Steam trilogy. It was a delightful read. It is quite possibly even better than the first book in the series.
Characters: Everyone that we met in the first book returns. The author does a great job filling in more details about the personalities and backgrounds of every character, while leaving the reader wanting more in book 3. There are still a lot of characters to remember but each one is so distinct that it takes little effort to remember who everyone is. A few new characters turn up in this adventure too. They aren't as well defined yet, but I am sure that they will be in the third book.
Plot: There is mystery, intrigue and action galore. A few things I "knew" were going to happen, given the storylines that were already built for us. Many of the adventures and plot twists however, were quite surprising. There was a slow bit in the beginning that had me a little nervous about how things were going to progress. I am very glad that I kept with it. From the time the ship started toward South America on, the story was everything I had hoped it would be.
Overall, highly recommended for anyone who enjoys a good adventure with a steampunk twist.
This book was as well-written and amazing as the first. There is more action and conflict throughout the entire book. I found myself wanting to look up and confirm the various peoples mentioned. I resisted though because I didn’t want to break the spell being woven in case they weren’t real. (Stops for a quick search now.) Okay. I can now say some serious research went into the writing of this book. I’m happy by that as I can now file the amount of information provided for future reference. It’s not only steampunk, but historical fiction as well. In my opinion, that’s pretty cool. The detail that went into describing the various areas and the peoples encountered shows an amazing amount of work and research to get it just right.
I will admit I had a more difficult time reading this book than the last. Maybe it was because I read it right after the first. These books do seem to require slowing down to absorb the large amount of information being given to you. Perhaps it was because of several major life changes that happened right as I began this book. I guess I won’t know for sure until I read them again in the future.
I am excited by the fact the rest of this series is to be released soon. I can’t wait to read what happens next!
Excellent and unique! A top Amazon reviewer loaned me this through Kindle lending. I am so glad she did. This is a unique work in that is not a continued narration, but a series of letters and journal entries by various characters. In doing this, we see the deeper point of view through these characters. Mr. Cook does an excellent job of bringing to life the delays in communication during the 1815 time period, and grips us from the very beginning.
I love this line "We have been shot at, hunted, ambushed, nearly trampled and otherwise hindered at every step...." How can that NOT grasp your attention and make you yearn for more? As you read on, you will not only read about the men of the time, but of the feisty women who manipulate and try to seduce to get what they want. The descriptions are good enough to allow you to imagine, but not so overly done that you lose interest.
Knowing this was Steampunk, I was a little apprehensive, as I am not that much of a sci-fi or gadget type of person. However, this book used that as a background and was a delight for anyone with an interest in historical fiction! Thank you Mr. Cook and Ms. Perkins for such an awesome work!
This second book in the series does not drop off from the excellence of the first. It further enlightens us on the character of those we come to know and love in the first book and carries on the struggles and triumphs of their relationships and travels – to my delight!
Gods of the Sun again mixes in some ‘real’ history but spends even more time in the throes of full adventure. It’s built on the exploration of different cultures, and for the most part sets us right in among them. The one exception is that I couldn’t really ‘see’ into the culture of Peru at the beginning, so it was a slower start, but everything came to vigorous and glorious life from New Zealand onward to the top of the world! I just bought the third of the trilogy, and I’m looking forward to more DAWN OF STEAM from this highly esteemed author.
This book was awesome! The characters are fascinating, the plot riveting, and the writing's great, packed full of voice and style. I loved every second I spent with these characters, and I look forward to seeing how everything plays out in the last book. If you'd like to hear more of my thoughts on this book, you can find the full review on Verbosity Book Reviews.