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The Guns Above

(Signal Airship #1)

3.95  ·  Rating details ·  1,254 ratings  ·  311 reviews
The nation of Garnia has been at war for as long as Auxiliary Lieutenant Josette Dupre 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 ...more
Kindle Edition, 352 pages
Published May 7th 2017 by Tor Books (first published May 2nd 2017)
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Robyn Bennis Look for it in April or May. You'll probably be able to pre-order it within the next few weeks...…moreLook for it in April or May. You'll probably be able to pre-order it within the next few weeks...(less)
Sieglinde The first novel is a standalone. It ends at a good place with the characters awaiting new adventures and no cliff hanger

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Average rating 3.95  · 
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Mogsy (MMOGC)
3.5 of 5 stars at The BiblioSanctum

The Guns Above is a book that has been on my radar for a while, and so when the audio edition became available I decided to take the plunge, doubly excited by the fact that it would be read by one of my favorite narrators, Kate Reading.

From the look of the book’s cover, I had deduced that the story would be a military fantasy, though in truth it is a bit more complicated than that. For one thing, the presence of magic in
Scott  Hitchcock
A steampunk/military fantasy taking place in a WWI-esque setting.

This starts out really well. The first scene sets up a good potential plot with a natural gravitas. From there unfortunately it never takes off. Things become predictable, simplistic and cliche reading like fantasy 101.

There's also simply too much time spent on the structure of the ship and it becomes tedious. I understand the need to give the reader the sense of the dirigible since the mass of the story takes place in it but it
Jun 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing
An action-packed military fantasy with airships being used as part of war at a level of technology roughly matching the Crimean or Napoleonic wars but set in an alternate world.

Auxiliary Lieutenant Josette Dupre (auxiliary because she's a woman), distinguishes herself in combat after taking over the command of her airship after her captain is killed and turning the tide of a critical battle. As her reward, she is promoted to Senior Lieutentant and given the command of an airship of "revolutionar
Jun 30, 2017 rated it did not like it
I bought this book because I read the preview of the first few chapters in an article from when its release was coming, and I found the tone to be fun and pointed with a sense of humor very reminiscent of Terry Pratchet. If I was going to rate the first 7 or so chapters of the book, I would give it a four or a five!

Unfortunately, the further the book goes, the less it keeps with its initial tone and the more depressing and technical it gets.

A minor nitpick is that the airship descriptions and wh
May 22, 2018 rated it really liked it
Reminiscent of the Horatio Hornblower stories, this book is loads of fun, with plenty of aerial combat and sarcastic banter between Josette Dupre, airship Lieutenant, and Lord Bernat, the aristocrat sent to her airship, by his General uncle, to monitor her and discredit her, and women in general, for the military brass. Josette is competent, which is infuriating for the brass, as her latest action helps turn the tide in a battle, giving her a promotion to Captain.
Saddled with Bernat and a new a
Mar 24, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2017, net-galley
I deeply enjoyed this book. A magic-less (or exceptionally low magic) secondary world full of airships and muskets and trains, still dealing with issues of imperialism and sexism is very much "my kind of thing" and the fast pace and well developed main characters made it even better.

It's a military fantasy without being overly gritty, but doesn't shy away from the realities of war, and it's a story about an unlikely friendship that we actually get to see unfold, rather than just hearing about h
Feb 11, 2018 rated it really liked it
Review from Tenacious Reader:

3.5/5 Stars

Overall, The Guns Above was an enjoyable steampunk adventure, with a strong female protagonist and airships and battles.

Josette Dupre is an enjoyable protagonist who becomes the first female captain of an airship. Whether this assignment is out of earned respect or a setup to see her fail depends on perspective. Either way, its an amazing opportunity that came her way after becoming a hero when her previous airship c
Jessie  (Ageless Pages Reviews)
This book begins and ends with a literal bang. It's beyond fun. It's... sorrycanthelpit... explosively entertaining. It's a fast fantasy and steampunk read that feels like a historical fiction adventure a la Master and Commander but less stuffy and with more aerial battles. Napoleonic-era type warfare dominates the plot, but the entire book is centered on Garnia's first female airship captain. Very fast and very fun. ...more
May 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Originally published at Reading Reality

The Guns Above is an absolutely fantastic steampunk/Military SF action adventure story. This is one of those stories where it’s science fiction mostly because it isn’t anything else. The only SFnal element is the “not our world” setting and, of course, the airships. Those marvelous airships.

But in its protagonist of Lieutenant Josette Dupre, we have an avatar for every woman who has had it drummed into her head that “in order to be thought half as good as a
The Guns Above is the start of a new series set in a steampunk type world. Josette Dupris has been part of the Air Signal Corp for years; however, as a woman she's never been able to move past a certain rank, and women are certainly never supposed to be involved in a battle. While Josette is no stranger to war, she never expected that she would be given a command of her own, which is exactly what happens in The Guns Above. Due to the Josette's actions and the visibility of said heroics in the pr ...more
Sherwood Smith
Josette Dupre has managed to become a captain of an airship, though women are not supposed to be in command positions. When she takes off in the airship Mistral, she has a spy aboard, the finicky dandy Lord Bernat, nephew of the general in command of the war effort.

Bernat is determined to discredit Josette, and thus gain a reward from his uncle, money he can use as menus plaisirs to get back to his life of lace and fine wine and compliant older ladies. Josette would love to scare the fop right o
This is a pretty typical steampunk story in my experience so far. The dialogue is fun; sort of a subdued Terry Pratchett style.

“Well, I expect you’ll manage,” the general said. “The ship’s Mistral. It’s a new design.”

Josette’s enthusiasm was momentarily checked, for the general had said the two words every airman dreaded: “new design.” Army flight engineers were forever searching for new and more efficient ways to get airmen killed. When they’d collected enough of them, they put them together
May 26, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, steampunk
When I started this book, I was really aggravated because I wanted to find some meaning to the whole thing, some purpose to the characters but halfway through the book I realized that in my "mission" to find some meaning, I was letting how awesome it was just fly over my head.

It's filled with so much action and humour that I was really sad when it ended because I'm going to really miss Bernat's banter and Josette's cold humour.

It felt like I was reading a pirates of the Caribbean movie except, t
May 30, 2018 rated it liked it
Pretty solid military fantasy with muskets canons and airships. After a strong start it begins to enter familiar fantasy territory and the tropes seen in traditional fantasy tales are seen. Good fun fluff fantasy that has an easy breezy writing style that flows very well.
Bridget Mckinney
Jul 05, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017
The Guns Above is a whip-smart, fast-paced, and surprisingly funny military fantasy. I didn’t think that I was interested in reading stories about a woman having to overcome systematic sexism anymore, and I was double not interested in reading anything like a redemption arc for that woman’s sexist antagonist, but Bennis manages to breathe some new life into both of those stories. I’m very glad that I was interested enough in airships to read this book despite my misgivings, as it turned out to b ...more
Karina Webster
Oct 01, 2018 rated it liked it
This was an enjoyable read but there was perhaps a little too much battle over character development/exploration. That’s a personal gripe as I love good characters over fast paced plotting, although there was little plot here other than battle after battle after long winded descriptions of airships after battle after battle (you get my gist).

I enjoyed it enough to finish it, and i may read the second one after I read the blurb. But the overly descriptive narrative concerning the ships became ti
May 19, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: publisher-gift
There were parts that I rather enjoyed but overall, the whole thing seemed a bit thin. The characters were cartoonish, the plot barely developed, and the tone terribly uneven. It wasn't painfully bad, though, just tedious and uninteresting.

I received a free copy of this book from the publisher for review through Goodreads.
Judy Lesley
Jul 22, 2018 rated it really liked it
Two very nice people told me they thought this book would be a hit for me and they were absolutely right! This military fantasy world fit right into my "favorite" slots and ticked all the boxes. Author Robyn Bennis has given readers a debut novel that feels more like the work from a published author with multiple novels to her credit. This was fun to read with the snarky, witty comments flying back and forth between Josette Dupree and Bernat Hinkal at every opportunity. Josette is trying to prov ...more
Jul 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This book is so much fun--action, humor, interesting characters slowly developing respect for one another--and at the same time, it hits some deeper notes about things like patriotism and equality. It looks like there will be more books set in the Signal Airship world, and that fills me with delight.
DNF pg 165.

This is a very cool concept, but I feel like Bennis maybe got a little bit too excited about how awesome air ships are and threw every single piece of relevant terminology at her reader in her enthusiasm, without pausing to explain what they actually meant or referred to. And don't get me started on the constant conversations about weights and balances, and engineering. (There's a reason why I'm majoring in English Lit.) Even the attempts at explaining the world-building and the motiv
Jo  (Mixed Book Bag)
Mar 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Lieutenant Josette Dupris has just been given the command of an airship and is the first woman to to so. That command is the bane of the General commanding the troops so he sends his nephew as his spy to bring her down. Lord Bernat, a foppish aristocrat, is the spy. Josette know why he is there and what happens is a story full of laugh out loud lines wrapped into the blood and guts of battles. I loved how Bernat changes his attitude but not his personality as the story progresses. Josette seems ...more
Scott Bell
Nov 28, 2018 rated it really liked it
I liked this much better than I expected I would. A nice Horatio Hornblower mixed with Catch-22 set in a steampunk universe. The character "transformation" wasn't handled as deftly as I would like, but a fast, fun read. ...more
May 10, 2017 rated it really liked it
Fantasy Review Barn

Even have a complete disaster work out in your favor? Josette Dupris wakes up after her airship crashes a hero. This is not a Flashman scenario; her quick thinking after the commanding officer bites it truly are worthy of some accolades as the tide of battle was turned by her controlled crash. But deserved accolades or not Dupris finds that the disaster she survived is only going to lead to more problems in the future. Specifically, press she doesn't want and a promotion that
Apr 27, 2017 rated it liked it
If you are a woman in business of a certain age, you have had the experience of being ignored when out with a male colleague. You say something at a meeting, and the answer goes to the man next to you. You might go to a conference, and the men ware spoken to first. You might be meeting a new client, and the man is the one who is greeted as sthe one in charge.

That is the overriding theme of this book. Oh, yes, there is a war on, and there are battles, and there are of course politics, but the und
Jul 18, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
4 stars.

Yet another lovely, underrated jewel to add to my collection 😁

This is a steampunk-military-fantasy(?)-historical-ish book that's got nearly everything I love; a badass female lead that shows the world just how capable and awesome she is, a crew I understand and love, more banter than I knew I needed, and the believable redemption of a hilarious and witty weirdo.

I didn't understand all the technical jargon. I don't seem to mind not understanding everything, and I didn't want to put down t
Ginny Lurcock
Jun 25, 2017 rated it it was ok
The story had real promise. If it wasn't for the fact that every character hated women...

See, the whole point of the book is that men don't want women in the armed forces. The female POV did something amazing off camera before the book started and got her own command direct from the crown because of it. The General takes offense and sets about bringing her down by installing his nephew as a spy on the ship. He's our male POV.

Now, if this was a story about overcoming misogyny, that would've been
Aug 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: tor-books
I am on a kick where I really want to read some bloody, snarky, cynically hilarious military fiction, and this DELIVERED. I care about everyone. I REALLY Care about Kemper, and Jutes, and Jossette, and the fop I guess, and ahhhhhh the war is ongoing and leadership is corrupt and pleeeease everybody survive I need you to survive.

It's technically fantasy cause it's an invented world but the tech level is a mashup of napoleonic war and WW1? Flintlock Fantasy, like Django Wexler's The Thousand Name
Geonn Cannon
Apr 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing
An amazing first novel! The Guns Above delivers on its premise with a novel that's full of great characters, exhilarating airship battles, and unexpected humor. I didn't expect this book to be half as witty as it ended up being, but there are more than a few scenes where I wanted to take note of the banter to use next time someone was annoying me.

Josette Dupre is a character I can't wait to revisit. Cocky but not ridiculously so, respectful of authority but willing to buck it when necessary, an
Sep 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: sf-fantasy
JUST the ticket: tons of logically choreographed maneuvers and military action that never seems repetitive, gender expectations being upset, tension between the two main characters that reads more like friendship than romance, and world class wit, to wit:

Josette walked up to the desk and casually brushed the papers aside. “Memoirs of a Woman of Ill-Repute,” she said. “That’s a damn fine book.”
The cover was blank, giving no indication of the book’s title or pornographic content. The clerk looked
Wil C. Fry
Jul 02, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

It’s been 10 months since I gave five stars, but this was an all-around enjoyable book, from the storyline to the worldbuilding, from the much-noted “witty dialog” to the grisly descriptions of battle scenes. It’s immersive and fun.

(I have published a longer review on my website.)

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“Her eyes snapped open and she was instantly awake, alert, and ready. “Thank you, Ensign,” she said.
Kember saluted unsteadily, her face drained of blood.
“Oh, and Ensign?” Josette said, before the girl left. “That request for you to throw yourself over the side and fall straight to Hell was not a formal order. You may feel free to disregard it.”
“Respectfully, sir,” the man without eyebrows said as they ran, “you ever try not enraging people so much?”
“Once,” she said, looking over her shoulder. “It didn’t work.”
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