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A fantastical steampunk first contact novel that ties together high magic, high technology, and bold characters to create a story you won’t soon forget.

Captain Talis just wants to keep her airship crew from starving, and maybe scrape up enough cash for some badly needed repairs. When an anonymous client offers a small fortune to root through a pile of atmospheric wreckage, it seems like an easy payday. The job yields an ancient ring, a forbidden secret, and a host of deadly enemies.

Now on the run from cultists with powerful allies, Talis needs to unload the ring as quickly as possible. Her desperate search for a buyer and the fallout from her discovery leads to a planetary battle between a secret society, alien forces, and even the gods themselves.

Talis and her crew have just one desperate chance to make things right before their potential big score destroys them all.

535 pages, ebook

First published March 27, 2018

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About the author

R.J. Theodore

15 books52 followers

R J Theodore* (they/she) is an author and graphic designer. Their short fiction has appeared in Lightspeed and Fireside Magazines as well as the award-winning Glitter + Ashes and Unfettered Hexes anthologies from Neon Hemlock Press.

Their Peridot Shift trilogy comes to an adventures conclusion in December 2022! Learn more at rjtheodore.com

*Note the preferred spelling, please. Spaces, no periods.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 87 reviews
Profile Image for Najeefa Nasreen.
62 reviews66 followers
April 13, 2022
Thanks to the publisher -Chipped Cup Collective, Robot Dinosaur Press for providing ARC in exchange for an honest review via NetGalley.

3/5 stars

It started off well! Well enough to keep me engaged from the very first page. I was hoping I have found a good adventure for myself through Flotsam. My love for fantasy compelled me to pick this one as I wanted to see how reading a less famous book impacts my opinion. Having said that, there are many such books I've read that many people haven't heard of year, that impressed me to the core. It just didn't happen with this one. Sadly, I was disappointed.

Flotsam talked about airships. How cool is that? There is this ring Talis has that everyone is ready to trade for. I haven't read any of her books prior to Flotsam. It's not that I was very disappointed with her writing, I'm still open to reading books written by her. She looks to be having great potential.

Let me start with the things that impressed me. One, the story had great world-building with airships(Yes, I know I have already mentioned that) which got better and better as the story progressed. So yes, I kept reading. The thing that I didn't like in the story was that there was no character development. All the characters felt a little flat to me. Also, the story was flooded with descriptions of every little thing that came across. There was more of the telling than of the showing. This made the story too long.

I will recommend this book to fantasy lovers who are looking for something new to read.

Release Date : 01 Feb 2022.

Review Posted : 05 Feb 2022.

Visit My Blog to read this and all my other reviews.
Profile Image for Koeur.
1,079 reviews21 followers
October 17, 2017
Publisher: Parvus

Publishing Date: January 2018

ISBN: 9780997661361

Genre: Mixed but mostly Steampunk

Rating: 4.4/5

Publishers Description: Captain Talis just wants to keep her airship crew from starving, and maybe scrape up enough cash for some badly needed repairs. When an anonymous client offers a small fortune to root through a pile of atmospheric wreckage, it seems like an easy payday. The job yields an ancient ring, a forbidden secret, and a host of deadly enemies.

Review: A crazy blending of Steampunk, Fantasy and SciFi that takes you on a genre bending wild ride through the skies of Peridot.

The world building is incredibly epic for a newly minted author and hints at uncovering even more as this series evolves. The characters were not only well developed with the movement but continued to draw interest as their personal histories unfolded. At one point I thought this novel was going to take a nose-dive into many buckles being swashed and overly elaborate descriptors on how they were dressed for battle (if hot looking sky pirates are your thing). Thankfully the instance was short lived and the novel gained in grittiness what it lost in glamour.

Although mixing genres has been done before, this author elegantly combines the visceral and fantastical into a salable whole. Well done noob.
Profile Image for Jennifer (bunnyreads).
460 reviews68 followers
March 25, 2018
This book is a cool blend of steampunk, fantasy, and sci-fi. I am not even quite sure which category to tuck this one in and I loved that about it.

You can tell there was a lot thought put into this world, it’s gorgeous. The setting, the alien cultures, the outfits, everything was so visually stunning and I liked that it was a nice balance of detailed world building and trusting you to be able to keep up. And that there was a very handy glossary for the times when you think you know what something is but aren’t totally sure, or in my case, just terrible with names. For me, the glossary was a definite must-have.

The characters were appealing and the tidbits of back story and their complicated pasts together and apart, were interesting and kept me wanting to know more about them.
Although, there were things that were hinted at that I would have loved more than just allusions to- especially Tallis and the High Priestess Illiya’s, time serving together. And I wished for more about Tallis and Hankirk’s rocky past. I think it would have made some of Tallis’s decisions concerning him less frustrating to have a had a better understanding of their relationship. I am hoping there will be more of that sort of thing in the next book.

The Yu-Nyun had an Earth Final Conflict feel to them in the way you are left questioning if they really are as benign as they seem, or do they have ulterior motives? I was really hoping with the not leading you by the nose style to the writing, for there not to be an obvious answer to that question and others that were hinted at within the plot. Some events in their attempts to get us from one thing to the next felt a bit easy and for me, those moments were some of the weaker parts of the story.

On the whole, it was an enjoyable story with lots of room to grow and my issues were so minor compared to what I thought were its strengths. It made for a really fun and creative read and is the kind of debut I love finding. I am looking forward to seeing where the author takes things in the next book.

Thank you to Netgalley, Parvus press, and the author, for the opportunity to read this ARC!

Profile Image for Abi (The Knights Who Say Book).
628 reviews94 followers
February 28, 2018
*I received an advance reader copy in exchange for an honest review*

Review: 2.5 stars. Okay, so Flotsam is... interesting. (Aka the start of every "conflicted feelings" review)

I have to say, I started off pretty impressed. The world of Peridot is really cool, from a planet made up of thousands of floating islands that's currently in the midst of an alien encounter to there being five different types of humans with various strange additions (extra arms or feathers, for example) to the airships that are used for travel because there's no real ocean in this world. And the worldbuilding only got more interesting as the book went on, exploring the concept of mortal gods and what interstellar travel would mean to a place like Peridot.

The plot also included several interesting plot twists, so there are definitely parts of the plot I look back on favorably. Others, not so much. There were a few scenes that seemed like they were supposed to be action-packed and dramatic but because they basically amounted to longwinded accounts of maneuvering air ships around they just... weren't. I remember thinking at one point that the chase scene I just read felt like an account of two snails racing each other — both slow and irrelevant. Not to mention, in the biggest battle of the story the main character does very little, and everyone basically watches this one other character does all the important things. At that point you sort of want the author to just make that character the main one and be done with it.

The other place I feel Flotsam fell flat was with the characters. The main crew and such were reasonably developed, but I think you can tell that I don't feel a whole lot of excitement about them; they were pretty average. Mostly I think the problem is that while I can see each character's individual personality, I can't really see their bond as a crew. While we see how they each interact individually with Talis, their captain and the main character, the group dynamic just isn't there.

I was also disappointed with a few aspects where I feel Peridot's awesome, original worldbuilding reverted to predictable scifi tropes. The little we see of the Bone people and their islands (the Bone are Black (and the Cutters are also PoC, at least if I'm remembering correctly)) are just very... "barbaric punishments and also a desert?", aka pretty much like every barbaric country that just happens to be the country full of Black people in every fantasy/scifi book ever. Again, it might just be because we don't see enough of their floating islands to see a nuanced view of their culture, but it feels tired. I hope the Bone get a more in depth treatment in the sequel.

There's also another one of the human races (the Vein) that are blind, and appear to have the ~magical ability to sense everything around them even though they can’t see~ that every single blind character in fantasy/scifi does. The author could have done something way cooler and original by not using that old trope and instead focusing more on what kind of accommodations would develop for blind people in a strange world like Peridot, in my opinion.

And yet, for all these criticisms, I still would like to know where the story is going in the sequel (mostly because after that ending, I honestly can't predict where).

Previous update:

I'm almost going to cry <3 I had some real complaints about this book's handling of a nonbinary character's pronouns that made me rate this lower originally, but I've just been informed that the publisher is taking this seriously into consideration and making some kind of change! I'm so glad they're willing to really listen and adjust, and I'm glad that I can now add this to my nonbinary characters shelf without the embarrassment of that character being misgendered the whole time. While I don't know what pronouns the author will eventually go with, I have faith that the adjustments made are going to be much more sensible.

Full review on the actual book content/plot/characters to come, but I wanted to adjust my official rating to 3 stars and make a note that I have a lot more faith in Parvus publishing now, and I'm so happy they reconsidered.

Another update (latest edit): I wanted to add a quick note here after getting another email from the publisher! It seems the author is going with xi/xin/xist pronouns for Scrimshaw for the final version of the book, without the misgendering that occurred in the draft arc. To clarify for anyone who is wondering whether they should read this for nonbinary representation: Scrimshaw is an alien, and a secondary character, so xi is not the focus of the book; I'm just glad to know that anyone who picks up this book in the future will get a nonbinary character treated with respect.
Profile Image for Timothy Boyd.
6,552 reviews32 followers
July 24, 2019
I really like it when I try a new writer and they just grab me up in a totally new and different world and story. Once again I tried someone new based on a write up at Blackmask.com (you really should take a look at the website). Now i admit I am a new steampunk convert and a sucker for a story with airships in it but this was a great find. Good action, humor and a nice different world made for a very entertaining read. The 2nd book comes out this year and is already moved to the top of my read list. Very recommended
Profile Image for Elena Linville.
Author 1 book58 followers
January 4, 2023
Stars: 2 out of 5

DNF at 45%.

There is a good book hidden somewhere in there. Unfortunately, it's buried under tons of overwritten plot and bad characterization. It feels like this story isn't quite done yet. It need more time to "cook" in the author's head, or maybe a strong developmental edit.

The premise is fascinating: a whole planet shattered by a cataclysm that left it in chunks. Yet somehow life still exists there. There is atmosphere and gravity even if that revolves around the "islands" - floating bits of planet. There are five "gods" that remade their respective people in some ways to facilitate their adaptation to this new environment. And these deities are not fictional. They exist, they interact with others sometimes. There is a mysterious ring and some even more mysterious aliens. And the crew of a smuggler's ship caught in the middle of all of that. Sounds interesting? Sounds like lots of fun and action, doesn't it?

That promise kept me going for almost half the book. That's when I realized that the flaws of the book made it almost impossible to enjoy the story. I was skimming most of the chapters just to get to the juicy bits, but even those weren't enough to keep me interested.

This book is horribly overwritten - I don't need descriptions of what every character is wearing and all the weapons they have unless it's relevant to the story. And while yes, I'm interested about how Sub Rosa was founded, I don't need 6 pages of exposition about it. This kills the momentum and makes the book a chore to read.

The other problem is the extremely stilled and unnatural dialogue. The characters don't talk like people. In fact, most of the time, the characters barely talk. The protagonist talks and assumes what her crew is about to say from their posture or the look in their eyes, when they barely said a word or two before she interrupts them. This is extremely irritating and makes the protagonist look unstable, even unhinged sometimes. Prone to mood swings and quick to lash out... without any provocation. 

This impression comes from the fact that the author tells us everything, but is very bad at showing it. So the author tells us that the crew is being insubordinate and even disrespectful, but nothing in the scene actually "shows" us that. Half the time, when I read those scenes, I came away confused - exactly why did the protagonist lash out? Nothing in the dialogue provoked that response. I don't really want to follow a character I don't like and can't understand.

All of these flaws just kept adding up and by the time I decided to say goodbye to the book, I was just not getting any enjoyment out of the experience.

PS: I received a free copy via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Devann.
2,434 reviews134 followers
May 5, 2021
I received an ARC copy of this book from NetGalley

Space pirates! Or maybe Steampunk pirates? But still, what's not to love? This was such a fun book. It's set in a world that basically used to be a 'normal' planet but something happened that they call the Cataclysm and it got 'blown up' I guess for lack of a better word, but now their 'planet' is made up a lot of little islands [that somehow still have gravity and air? But I'll suspend my disbelief because I really love it] and the 'flotsam' is basically the outer atmosphere that is littered with all these crashed ships and other stuff. There's also a lot of stuff with the different races of people that live there [and some aliens as well] and their gods, but I don't want to rehash the entire plot here. It's some really cool world building and made even more impressive by the fact that this is the author's first book.

All the characters were really fun too. The main crew of the pirate ship consists of four people but there's another character that is fairly prominent as well as one of the aliens. It's a very interesting group of people and they all have their own things that they bring to the team. This book reminds me a lot of the Sunken City Capers series (first book: The Solid-State Shuffle), which I love, mostly just in terms of mood but both series are about thieves/pirates although hilariously enough the pirate one takes place in space and the other one takes place mostly under water because it's set in a world where the coastlines have moved up drastically. Anyway, this was just a really fun book that went from being your average heist story to a very involved political plot. I can't wait for the next one!

[edit 5/5/21: Unfortunately I think I'm going to have to mark this series as abandoned despite really liking this first installment at the time. I think the issue was that it took over 2 years for the second book to come out and by then I had lost all the intricate plot details and just can't muster up the enthusiasm to get back into it. I've tried to pick up the sequel twice now - once when it first came out and once today - and it's just not happening. If you're reading this book now I would definitely recommend moving onto the second one quickly!]
Profile Image for Alex.
609 reviews66 followers
March 24, 2018
Read on my blog.

LGBTQAI+: I think Tisker (a side character) is gay, but there is only really one reference to it and the word isn’t used. There are also aliens who use neopronouns. (So, not much.)
Sex on page: No (also no romance at all, only references to a past fling)

I received an ARC through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

I’m not even sure how to rate this book. 3 stars? 3.5?

Peridot is a fractured planet made up of many islands, home to five distinct humanoid races that were created by the Divine Alchemists, who are now worshipped as gods: Cutter, Breaker, Bone, Vein and Rakkar. The main character, Talis, and two other members of her crew are all Cutters, and the fourth one, Dug is a Bone.

I would like to start by saying that I loved the worldbuilding in theory – the fractured planet and the five races that were created by gods who still live among the people – but I had problems with the execution. To me, the Cutters sort of seemed like “regular” humans with no real special characteristics. We only see one Breaker in the entire book, and basically no named Rakkars. The Vein are four-limbed people who are physically blind, but oh, they have a magical sight – like every other blind race in anything ever. And finally, the Bone are dark-skinned people who live in desert tribes. While not outright barbaric, the Bone are often portrayed as violent, and the one Bone crew member, Dug, is described as large and intimidating immediately when he appears. I hope I don’t have to explain why I was conflicted about that. In short, I liked the idea but I felt like the races could have been written much better, and I’m hoping they’ll be more detailed in the sequel.

As for the characters, in the first half I was intrigued by all four crew members of the Wind Sabre – but towards the second half, Sophie and Tisker faded into the background and barely felt like individual people. Also, as I mentioned above, there is one throwaway sentence about Tisker not preferring Talis’s “parts”, which is not only a pretty cissexist way to say he’s gay, but it’s also never brought up again. (To be fair, there aren’t really heterosexual romances in the book either, other than mentions of the fling Talis used to have with one of the male antagonists.)

One thing I really enjoyed was the alien race (the Yu’Nyun) and the very different way they use gender and pronouns. They don’t seem to have genders at all, or at least at this point we don’t know anything about those – they use pronouns based on situation and class, and they have very strict rules on what class is allowed to wear what type of clothes. If I remember well, there are 9 pronoun groups, but like 50 different versions of the same pronoun? While this is only explored in a couple of scenes so far, I was genuinely intrigued by an alien race that is truly different from what we expect, and doesn’t just have the same binary genders. The characters we see use the xe/xin/xist pronoun set, and one of them becomes a major side character. (Although an actual “human” (Cutter, Bone, etc.) nonbinary character would have been nice.)

As for the plot… I sadly have to admit that I almost completely lost interest in the book about 70% in. I found myself enjoying it until then, but the main battle fell flat for me and I was begging for it to be over. Still, there were some plot twists and solutions by the crew before the 70% mark that I appreciated.

In short, I would say that Flotsam had many ideas that I liked, but the execution very often could have been better. I might pick up the sequel to see if these things improve, but at this point I am undecided. Honestly, I have no idea where the plot is going after this, but I hope we learn more about the Rakkars and the Breakers, as well as the Yu’Nyun. Especially regarding the Yu’Nyun, I have some suspicions based on hints and I would love to see more.

My rating: 👾👾👾/5.
Profile Image for Riley.
865 reviews56 followers
January 22, 2018
Flotsam has one of the strangest non-dream settings I’ve experienced in books. The planet Peridot underwent a catastrophic event, known as the Cataclysm, that resulted in the world being split into pieces that are loosely held together by the power of the Nexus. Each piece is an island, floating in space. One assumes that the Nexus maintains the loose configuration, atmosphere and gravity that allows the islands to support thriving populations. Oh, and the gods live within the Nexus and seem to have some responsibility for creating life, maintaining the balance of the Nexus and controlling all magic (alchemy).

Most of the action takes place in the skies on board the Wind Sabre, an airship, lending the steampunkish feeling. Though the presence of gods and magic/alchemy also give it a fantasy feeling. The non-earth space-like setting gives it a scifi feel. Plus there are aliens. So it is hard to define the genre of Flotsam. But, since I enjoy steampunk, fantasy and scifi, I really savored the combination.

There are many vividly described locations throughout Peridot that are part of the story. I appreciated the author’s descriptions of all these fascinating places.

I loved that the adventure never, NEVER slowed down. Will Captain Talis next decision be a good one, or will she get her crew into even more trouble? Spoiler – there was a lot of leaping from the frying pan into the fire. Followed by more leaping…..

There are plenty of colorful characters in this book. The least well known major character is the lead, Talis, as only parts of her story come out. But this is a series. There will be opportunities for Talis’ secrets to come out in a future story. Throughout Flotsam, you get to know about the crew of Wind Saber as you learn how Dug, Sophie, and Tisker came to be part of the crew. An there Talis’ ex-boyfriend, Hankirk, who is stupid and dangerous. And, I suspect, he will not go away easily.

There was a cliffhanger ending, which I am not fond of. I really liked this book, so Flotsam gets 4 stars – minus one star for the cliffhanger.

Through NetGalley, I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Jillian.
164 reviews
May 10, 2020
Normally, I am not a scifi reader at all, but this combination of scifi, steampunk, and space opera was very engaging for me and I was pleasantly surprised at how readable it is. It is funny, the character development felt natural, the pacing felt just right, and the world is unusual enough that it is intriguing but not so unusual that it leaves you feeling confused and left behind. Once you get into the rhythm of the writing, the author's style is refreshing and it felt very "clean" in terms of efficiency; meaning, there are descriptions of characters, scenery, fighting scenes, etc., but I felt like every word counted and nothing was too flowery or ornate. Oh, and I love the glossary at the end. I am excited to see where things go with this series!
Profile Image for Connie.
338 reviews13 followers
October 24, 2017
Tails and crew are down on their luck so accept a contract that will tide them over, trouble is this simple job to salvage an old antique ring is not so simple and they're not the only ones with an interest. A fabulous SteamPunk adventure with Airships, Aliens and God's.
I really enjoyed this and I loved Scrimshaw the Yu'Nyum Alien who ended up on the Wind Sabre and I hope we see more of his character in the next book, which I'm really looking forward to.
Profile Image for Laura.
9 reviews
February 28, 2018
Flotsam drew me into a type of world I’ve never seen before. An exciting mash up of space opera and steampunk, the adventures of Talis and her airship crew kept me riveted. I’m definitely looking forward to the next installment of this series!
Profile Image for aza.
206 reviews28 followers
January 16, 2022
okay I’m ready to be dropped into the flotsam now

This book follows captain Talis as she embarks on what should have been an ordinary salvage mission. Once she has her prize, she encounters a number of parties are interested in the salvage, and her and her crew discover all sorts of plots between aliens, other races, gods, and cultists.

The world itself is interesting (to both the aliens and to me), and learning about its lore and history is fun. Besides the super cool alien race that recently appeared, there are five different humanoid races living on the planet. However there were tropes between the different races that bothered me. Specifically: the dark skinned race is large, known for their strength, and live in tribes; while another race is blind but dress beautifully because even though they are sightless they can still ~see~.

The beginning of the book hooks you in, the small crew is a gang of fascinating characters with their own interests; one is a street rat, another is separated from their own race; another is even considering leaving to captain their own ship. However as the plot moves forward we stop learning about the crew or stop getting as much out of their characters. They don’t have much development past about the halfway point and that disappointed me because I really like Sophie, Dug and Tisker!

There was an exciting build up between multiple groups’ agendas, and there are constant plot twists and turns throughout the book that keeps you on your toes. The anticipation builds as we approach the final battle but then the last scene falls short. In the end scene, I kept reading and wondering, “what on earth is so-and-so doing?”, “where is ___?”, “is [that guy] just sitting around?”. And for a while they really were just sitting around! Characters are literally ‘in a trance’ during the battle and this leads to people doing absolutely nothing but watching what’s going on between like 4 people.

Overall I think this book is great for people who love world-building, especially steam punk and space opera type worlds, but who aren’t going to be bothered by tropey humanoid races and who don’t get as character-obsessed as I do.
Thank you NetGalley for the ARC of this edition!

PS. I hate Hankirk PERSONALLY.
Profile Image for ★.
64 reviews4 followers
January 11, 2022
no idea how to feel about this. it was so good in some part and so bad in others so 3stars. this was not made to be a draggy book but i felt it really dragged in some parts, without meaning to.

there's a version of a white supremacist in this book even though i think the cutters...? are not white, no idea how to feel about that. i would like to point out that the dark-skinned character in the book, dug comes from a country where the people are frequently portrayed as violent, with many tribes etc. the background characters are barely fleshed out which is very disappointing. i have mixed feelings about the main character because at some moment i hated her and at some moments i loved her, but I've never supported her decisions throughout. a flawed character that i'm not quite sure i can understand even though she should be relatable to me. also, like every other book, there's a blind character with supernatural senses and psychic abilities, because you know.

i'm hoping the next book will be better.

++ the aliens are quite possibly the saving grace of this book, FINALLY aliens that aren't humanoid, made to be love interests etc. their pronoun system is fascinating as well as their mysterious nature and culture.

thank you to netgalley for providing me a copy of this book
Profile Image for Mandy.
Author 1 book1 follower
March 3, 2018
Full disclosure: I received an advanced ARC copy of this book.

Maybe it's because I'm more of a hard sword-and-sorcery fantasy reader than a sci-fi or steampunk reader, but I really enjoyed this novel and found it to be very original. The world building is extensive without getting bogged down in the details, which I appreciated. Many authors most known for their "world building" tend to get so hung up in description that they forget to develop their characters, and that didn't happen here. I found myself intrigued with the crew, especially Captain Talis.

I read for a good story and escapism, and this is quite the yarn. What begins as a salvage operation on a steampunk-style airship quickly turns to sci-fi with fantastical races and genuine aliens (that actually fit the moniker), and then turns again into a bit of a mystery, and the line between the good guys and the bad guys gets blurry. There are a lot of elements from various genres that I think the author has tied together, but I have to say my strongest impression was that the Wind Sabre and her crew have a very Firefly/Serenity vibe going on.

Overall, story is what's important to me, and I really enjoyed this one. I look forward to more entries in the series.
Profile Image for Tracey.
76 reviews21 followers
October 25, 2017
Historically for me stories of space travel reminded me of Star Trek which I had been ambivalent about at best as a child. So to say I was uninspired by the long running galactic TV series to ever read books set in space was probably an understatement. However, after reading Meagan Spooner and Amie Kaufman’s acclaimed Starbound series a whole new genre of books was opened up to me. This led me to Flotsam and how very glad I am.

Talis is captain of her own ship, Wind Sabre and along with her small crew survives by taking contracts of a somewhat dubious nature. When she accepts a deal to retrieve a ring from the flotsam layer of dead junk that surrounds the space islands of Peridot, it seems too good to be true. Probably because it was. The contract takes Talis and her crew on an uncomfortable journey for survival. An old flame turned adversary, Hankirk, now an Imperial Captain is hot on her tail with the might of the Cutter Government behind him. Add to that the strange Yu-Nyun alien spaceship trailing her and she’s in a race for funds, new parts for the space ship and her survival.

Occasionally in a book, I read a line that I enjoy so much I go back to read it again. And again. Then I savour it like a really good Merlot. This book didn’t have one such line. It had many that I loved, so wonderfully crafted, like “she’d start the questions on the outside. Find a chink, wedge it open, and ease in” This author can paint a picture as vividly as if she had acrylics and a brush in hand and she isn’t afraid to use a cutting sense of humour. When referring to the reluctantly accepted resident alien she tells us that Talis thought ‘it’ was “always agreeing while simultaneously correcting. Not her favourite conversationalist this one”

Talis is a complex character, beautifully written. She is fiercely protective of her crew, especially the (figuratively and literally) tortured Dug. She is a tough, resilient woman on the outside whilst constantly self-doubting her thoughts and decisions on the inside. Her musings again give free rein to the author’s ability to write a dry sense of humour. When in trouble Talis thinks “what an incredible honour to have such a target painted on her back”

The plot jogs along at a very respectable pace and the world building was excellent. One of my favourite quotes comes at the end of the book, so I can’t include it without adding a huge ‘spoiler alert’ warning. Rest assured, the book’s end has left me waiting with bated breath for book number two. I genuinely can’t wait to read it to find out where the story goes next.

An ARC was greatly appreciated from NetGalley, the author and publisher and this review has been in no way affected by that.
Profile Image for Mike.
Author 45 books154 followers
October 20, 2017
This is the second steampunkish novel I've read recently featuring airships plying between the floating remnants of a planet long after a catastrophe has torn it apart, and I have to say, if this is a new genre, I like it. For one thing, both of them have been better, from a copy editing viewpoint, than the vast majority of steampunk books, but they've also shown a good grasp of story structure and characterisation. (The other was Curtis Craddock's An Alchemy of Masques and Mirrors.)

I have to say that I never did quite figure out the physical layout of Peridot. There's gravity, but there doesn't seem to be anything causing it; things just fall into the flotsam layer and stay there. It was never clear whether the aerial islands formed a disc or a sphere, either; it seemed like a disc, but I could be wrong. A lot of the early worldbuilding consisted of unexplained references that I had to set aside in the hope of understanding them later, and some things, as I say, never did get clarified. Near the end of the book, an island boasts a volcano, which seems at odds with the way everything is laid out; where's its magma coming from? And the river and fountains of sand, while cool, didn't seem particularly likely.

All this is background, though, really, and the focus is on the plot. It starts with a well-worn premise - plucky captain, who's rebelled against the injustices of society and become a smuggler, has to take risky jobs to keep her battered old ship maintained and flying. Despite its familiarity, the trope is played well, and the escalation of stakes is smoothly handled. Before we know it, the captain and her crew are in the middle of an alien invasion, and making choices that affect the fate of gods.

Yes, it's a genre mashup: steampunk, aliens, post-apocalyptic, adventure. Fans of Lindsay Buroker will probably enjoy it; it has a competent female lead who keeps questioning her competence to herself; a diverse crew who have their own issues and bicker among themselves, but pull together when the chips are down; and the aforementioned steampunkish setting, aliens, and adventure plot. If the author can be as consistent as Buroker in producing entertaining stories on this model, she's likely to do well, and this one is certainly a promising start.

I received a review copy via Netgalley.
Profile Image for David.
Author 8 books16 followers
October 10, 2019

I wanted to like this book: indie author, new setting, etc., etc.

Unfortunately, that's just not how it all shook out.

The author clearly loves her world, and clearly has tried to make it feel rich, well-developed and lived in. She manages to do that pretty well, but at the expense of her characters unfortuantely. There's a lot going on, society-wise and technology-wise and magic-wise, but because I don't really feel much for the characters or every really get a feel for personal stakes, the world-building comes off as more important than the people in the world. There are pages and pages of descriptions of cities and clothes and food and temples, but people get the short shift. The characters aren't much aside from their cultures, and I never feel like they much time talking that isn't interrupted by expositon or detail about what they're wearing.

Likewise, the entire last half of the book has huge stakes--gods might be killed! alien invaders!--but becuase I don't really know the people of the world, much less the gods, it's difficult for me to care if they're killed or who wins. There's a lot going on, but none of it we particularly feel for. This is especially true because there's a plot event that is completely unforseen and un-foreshadowed that made me feel like I was just along for the ride--just reading about things happening to people and the world instead of feeling like the characters had any say in what was going on.

I really wanted to like this book, as I said, but it just never worked or came together for me. The world is neat, but I think it would be a much better work with less of it--and more of the characters.
Profile Image for Featherfire.
35 reviews1 follower
May 13, 2018
I was expecting to like this book. I wasn't expecting to love this book. I certainly never thought it would end up on my "wow" shelf, but I feel it's earned its place there. I actually found myself avoiding reading because I didn't want it to end. At the outset, I admit I was concerned by the very prevalent Firefly-like feel (there were times when I could easily read Talis's dialogue in Nathan Fillion's voice), but as I read on that faded away and the story took on a life (and a charm) all its own. Because of its genre, it still maintains an air of Firefly-with-a-dash-of-Bioshock-Infinite for me (this could be because I just don't have a lot of experience with steampunk in general)... but that's okay because I love both of those things. The worldbuilding was excellent; I never felt lost or confused even though Peridot is a very unique setting, but there wasn't so much exposition that it felt like an infodump at any time. The pacing of the story was also very nice... it never dragged, I never felt bored by the narrative but neither did I feel there was too much action with no downtime. And all of the characters were likable in their own way... even Hankirk. And now I sit back and wait for the sequel with as much patience as I can muster.
Profile Image for Jos.
478 reviews68 followers
January 24, 2022
First of all, thanks to Robot Dinosaur Press and NetGalley for providing me with an advanced readers copy of the book in exchange of a honest review.

I'm still not sure if it's 3.5 or 4 stars.

Ok, the book is good, is interesting and it's a good trilogy start. What bothers me is that the main character which is a grown adult that has stopped being a naive young girl some time ago makes mistakes that not even the dumbest protagonist of the most cliché teen movie or book would make. Things that were very obvious and she refused to see or not giving the enough importance to other things even when a goddess (literally) told her the importance of those said things!

So, I don't know how I would classify this book because it has many genres, something like a space opera with fantasy and steampunk, a weird mixup, but it works well.

I have to recognize that at the beginning of the book it was difficult for me to really get into the story, and that's partly because the story itself, the principal problem in the book, doesn't start until the 58% of the book, everything that happens before that is the construction and preamble to that specific moment, I just hope it doesn't happen the same in the sequel.

I loved all the rest of the characters, including the aliens with unpronounceable names, Meran, the Wind Sabre crew and even Hankirk. The deities were more like meh to me, they weren't by far the more interesting thing in the book, but there were many things that I did like.

My favorite quotes of the book:
It wasn’t the most impressive private airship in the skies— just a single lift balloon, a handful of cannons, and room for a small crew. But it was hers. You didn’t get to have or keep much in this world.

She couldn’t give him back the future he’d lost, but she never stopped trying to make a new one for him.

Talk to the goddess that had a penchant for turning people into mermaids if they pissed her off.
Of course.
Why not?

Then a wave hit her. Desolation. Aching emptiness.
Silus Cutter is dead.
Her god. The being who created her people and protected them. The being who was supposed to be immortal.
He wasn’t. He was dead. And she was kneeling among his murderers.

“We all do...” Xe paused for a moment, resting. “...what we must to survive. Act for what we believe is the greater good of our people.”
Sometimes, she thought. And other times we act selfishly and court disaster.

“Do you have a purpose I can live for?”
“Same thing I have. Freedom.”

“This one would raze it all to the ground for you,” she said, her eyes flashing at Talis.
Dug’s eyelids lowered, and he inhaled deeply. He looked intoxicated, leaning toward Meran, who cupped his chin. But Meran looked at Hankirk.
“As would he.”

“Should have killed him,”she said under her breath to Dug.
“You still can.”
She stayed silent. She’d already proven that she couldn’t.

Primero que nada, gracias a Robot Dinosaur Press y a NetGalley por proveerme con una copia avanzada del libro a cambio de una reseña honesta.

Estoy indecisa entre 3.5 y 4 estrellas.

Ok, el libro es bueno, es interesante y marca un buen inicio de trilogía. Lo que me molesta, es que la protagonista que es una mujer adulta que ya tiene sus añitos, cometa errores que ni el protagonista más tonto de cualquier película o libro cliché para adolescentes cometería. Cosas que eran muy obvias y que no quiso ver o no darle la suficiente importancia a otras cosas a pesar de que una diosa (literalmente) fue y le informó de la importancia de ciertas cosas.

Entonces, no sé exactamente cómo se clasificaría este libro porque tiene muchos géneros, algo como un space opera con fantasía y steampunk, una mezcla rara, sin embargo funciona bien.

Debo reconocer que al inicio me costó engancharme con el libro, y es que la historia en sí, la problemática principal, no empieza sino hasta el 58% del libro, todo lo que sucede antes es como la construcción y el preámbulo para ese momento en específico, solamente espero que en la secuela no suceda lo mismo.

Me encantaron todos los demás personajes, incluyendo los aliens con nombres impronunciables, Meran, la tripulación del Wind Sabre e incluso Hankirk. Las deidades se me hicieron personajes equis, no eran ni de lejos lo más interesante del libro, pero hay varias cosas que sí que me gustaron.

Mis frases favoritas del libro:
It wasn’t the most impressive private airship in the skies— just a single lift balloon, a handful of cannons, and room for a small crew. But it was hers. You didn’t get to have or keep much in this world.

She couldn’t give him back the future he’d lost, but she never stopped trying to make a new one for him.

Talk to the goddess that had a penchant for turning people into mermaids if they pissed her off.
Of course.
Why not?

Then a wave hit her. Desolation. Aching emptiness.
Silus Cutter is dead.
Her god. The being who created her people and protected them. The being who was supposed to be immortal.
He wasn’t. He was dead. And she was kneeling among his murderers.

“We all do...” Xe paused for a moment, resting. “...what we must to survive. Act for what we believe is the greater good of our people.”
Sometimes, she thought. And other times we act selfishly and court disaster.

“Do you have a purpose I can live for?”
“Same thing I have. Freedom.”

“This one would raze it all to the ground for you,” she said, her eyes flashing at Talis.
Dug’s eyelids lowered, and he inhaled deeply. He looked intoxicated, leaning toward Meran, who cupped his chin. But Meran looked at Hankirk.
“As would he.”

“Should have killed him,”she said under her breath to Dug.
“You still can.”
She stayed silent. She’d already proven that she couldn’t.
Profile Image for Yuna.
469 reviews1 follower
August 3, 2018
2.5* but I'll bump to 3 because I think it had potential.

This book reminded me a lot of The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet, which I was also so-so on. I liked that this book had a more linear plot (but more on plot later because it was...messy) and didn't feel episodic the way Long Way did for me. But, what I loved about Long Way was the tight-knit crew and the character interactions. That was missing for me in Flotsam. It tried, but pretty much from the get go that we meet the crew, they're defying or questioning everything the captain, Talis, does. So, it made Talis's musing about how Dug is her BFF and the crew is family and she's got to do right by them etc feel a bit less than genuine. This wasn't Mal and Jayne posturing a la Firefly, it was as if Zoe got in Mal's face every time he made a decision, and had no camaraderie. Or if Kaylee constantly held the threat of leaving her Captain Tightpants over his head, and confronted him all the time over how to run his ship and btw she'd do a better job. So, no crew chemistry for me, and when it tried to build a backstory for them it felt forced.

I liked the plot at first, but by the end there were too many Big Bads all maneuvering for power and I'd long since gotten action fatigue. As much as alchemy was brought up, I never got a sense that it factored into the story. Re: messy plot-- Gods v. Aliens v. Secret Society v. Angry Planet.

The ending is abrupt. I know this is the start of a trilogy or series, but there was zero closure for me. It just ends with everything kinda shitty.

For all that there was always stuff happening (perhaps a bit too much), and this isn't an overly long book (not sure why GR has it listed as 500+ because my paperback was <400), it felt like it could've used a bit more judicious editing. In particular, some of the descriptions of settings/people get really long.
Profile Image for Amanda Meggs.
415 reviews5 followers
September 15, 2018
This is the most original novel that I have read in years, I loved Flotsam. Talis is an excellent Captain of her own ship Wind Sabre, she has a small crew of three, Sophie, Dug and Tisker. All are great characters, strong minded and integral to the story. The world is building is so well done that I had a solid picture in my mind all the way through and it was fantastically different from any world in any other books I've read. I loved it, as a first novel from the author, I was blown away by the quality of the story and her imagination. I would give it more than 5 stars if possible.
Profile Image for Kaffeeklatsch and Books.
725 reviews38 followers
March 15, 2022
Interesting ideas for the world building and races and I did enjoy the 👽👽👽.
The characters fell flat for me and there wasn't a lot of development going on. The dialogue between crew members was very average and I would've liked to see more background stories and crew interactions.
Also some of the fighting scenes were too drawn out for my taste. The writing itself is good and I'd check out more from this author in the future.

2.75 stars for this sci-fi-airship-adventure.

Thanks Netgalley for providing me with an eARC in exchange for an honest review.
Author 10 books9 followers
February 3, 2018
The first book in the steampunk/science fiction series Peridot Shift. I got an ARC from the publisher.

Talis is the captain of Wind Saber, a small airship with a total crew of four people. To keep her vessel in the air, Talis is sometimes forced to take jobs which are borderline legal, or outright illegal. Like the one that starts the story. One of the few fences Talis trusts offered her a job that looked easy enough. An old ring needed to be retrieved from the wreckage of an airship. Talis agreed to the job even though the payment barely covers for the cost of the equipment needed for diving the wreck. However, she thinks that she can do similar jobs in the future, so the cost is really an investment. Her crew agreed. The only problem is that anything found from wrecks are the property of the Cutter Empire, so they’ll have to be fast and silent.

Unfortunately, only moments after Talis gets the ring, an Imperial warship appears, and its captain is none other than Hankirk with whom Talis had a fling years ago when they were both in the Imperial Academy, and now they loath each other. After a battle, which will no doubt put Wind Sabre on the Imperial most wanted list, the Wind Sabre manages to escape. But when Talis tries to bring the ring to the fence, she and her crew are attacked and later they find the fence murdered. Talis has no idea what’s going on, but she needs to get rid of the ring and with a price that will cover some of her losses.

This was a very enjoyable read. The world-building is good and very interesting. The planet Peridot was destroyed in the past and only the powers of the five gods, the Divine Alchemists, kept the world together as islands of floating lands. The Divine Alchemists recreated the plants, animals, and everything and created five races, each in the image of one of the alchemists. Two of them look pretty much human while the rest are somewhat different. The world has also aliens which use starships to come from different planets. The people of Peridot don’t really know much about them.

In addition to two lift balloons and maneuvering and stunsails, the airships have steam engines, too, to propel them across the skies and between different islands. The planet has been divided into five areas, one for each race. There’s the Cutter Empire and the Bone islands are ruled by a sort of tribal council.

The crew of Wind Saber includes Dug who is a fearsome warrior, the first mate, and Talis’ best friend, Sophie who is the wrench, or mechanic, and Tisker who is the pilot and a former street urchin. They’re quite a close-knit group. They each have their own pasts and personalities. Talis is the only point-of-view character so we naturally get to know her the best. She seems like an experienced captain, very protective of her crew (especially Dug) but not so great at long-time planning. She also has a dry sense of humor. All of the crew are able to defend themselves and can kill people when necessary. I also really enjoyed the deep friendship between Dug and Talis: they’re friends through thick and thin but not lovers.

Besides Talis and Sophie the book has several interesting female characters. But for me the aliens almost steal the show. We get to know a bit more about them, but I’d love to know more. For example, they use pronouns not to identify gender but class, and they have over fifty pronouns. Also, the story doesn’t include romance which I really appreciated because courtship romances are so very common that’s noteworthy to find a book without one.

I’m eagerly waiting for the next book and really hoping that it will be just as good.
Profile Image for Maranda.
930 reviews33 followers
December 3, 2017
Struggled to finish just too little of a lot going on. There is a glossary at the end of the book that I would have found helpful at the first to describe expanse of characters and places. Book has gods, aliens, and a crew of misfit beings that are fighting to retrieve items for pay. At the same time being chased by the imperial law of the planet. "A copy of this book was supplied by Parvus Press via Netgalley with no requirements for a review. Comments here are my honest opinion.
Profile Image for Paula Lyle.
1,500 reviews12 followers
March 15, 2018
Sorry, but this is just a mess. The beginning is way too slow. Long passages about architecture and decoration where nothing happens. About 60% the plot took off and begin to become very interesting, then it just all fell apart. Things happen with absolutely no explanation. Lots of detail about the ship falling apart, which doesn't seem to matter once it's gone. The ending puts the seven remaining characters in very dire straits, apparently they are going to continue on but to what purpose or goal I have no idea. Reminded me of Scarlett O'Hara, "I'll think about that tomorrow. Tomorrow is another day."

I received an eARC from NetGalley.
135 reviews
March 11, 2022
I received an eARC of this book from the publisher, for which I thank them.

Flotsam was originally published several years ago, but has been given a new publisher & a refresh after its first publisher closed and the rights reverted back to the author. This is a review of the 2022 version.

I loved the setup of this novel and the worldbuilding. Theodore has created a rich world, with aliens, mysterious gods, and the tenacious crew of the Wind Sabre. Talis, the ship's captain, thinks she has it made - one job, to get an old ring off of a ship in the flotsam, essentially a graveyard of everything that's fallen from the skies in Peridot. But not all is as it seems. Soon, Talis and her crew are drawn into an adventure that none of them could have prepared for.

I loved the first third of the novel, and the end, but there was a patch in the middle that I found so dull I had to set the book down for a while. There's a lot of plot in this relatively short novel, and a lot of character development; each character really did have their own personality and place in the story. And that cliffhanger ending... which I'm even more mad about knowing that it's incredibly difficult to get book 2 in the series. Hopefully it'll be re-released when book 3 comes out eventually.

3.5 stars
Profile Image for Cloak88.
898 reviews16 followers
January 25, 2018
Mixing genres set in a beautiful world.

Flotsam is an interesting, and odd mix of genres, combined together to tell her story set in a truly Marvelous world. Undoubtedly Peridot, the world this novel takes place in, is the true hero of this story. It is unique and interesting and this novel's strongest selling-point. Imagine a world remade after a great cataclysme. The old word is shattered and what remains are thousands of floating islands and the Flotsam debris that drifts at the bottom of it all. And Flotsam is where this story stars. For within it Captain Talis unknowingly finds one of the old treasures of this old word. From there she and the crew of her airship sail the sky in search of profit and avoiding all who would take their prize for themselves. A feat not easily accomplished with the Imperial navy at their heals, and mysterious aliens starships seen on the horizon.

If you haven't caught on by now, the worldbuiling in this novel is really well done. It is done slowly and bit by bit, you start to learn how this world functions and who lives in it. From the gods at it's center, to the five different races across it, and the mysterious alien visitors outside of it. However for al the good it does, it must be said that, the emphasis on worldbuilding does on occasion slows down the pace of the story. The story pauses to take in, the world around it, at sometimes rather odd moment. Situations such as: during an high intensity fight scenes, or meeting a new race in a tension filled scene. Other than these minor gripes, I greatly enjoyed reading this novel. It's not perfect and there are flaws here and there, but overall this was a good book.

In short a New Author and a New World full of potential!

Characters: 3*
Story: 3*
World: 4.5*

*I received a free advance readers copy in exchange for a honest review*
March 23, 2018
Allow me to preface this review by stating that I received an advance reader copy in exchange for an honest review.

From the first page of Flotsam (Peridot Shift #1) and through the last, I was flooded with memories of a former favorite television show, Firefly. Talis and her crew mirror many of the same traits as some of those of Serenity's own. For that similarity alone, I believe that many would find R.J. Theodore's Sci-Fi/Steampunk world appealing.

The first few chapters were slightly difficult to get through and at some instances became repetitious when discussing how Talis met and took on one of her crew members. Once Talis and her crew set forth on their journey with the Yu'Nyun though, I truly became sucked into the story wondering how much bad luck one person could have before finally just throwing in the towel. The book is heavily descriptive yet I did not feel that it detracted from the tale. Descriptive with a purpose as I like to say. Peridot is a world unlike any other and the detailed descriptions transported you into the world rather than just a casual observer.

I still have some unanswered questions so I look forward to seeing where the series goes as it the world of Peridot is further explored.
Profile Image for Ronda.
1,518 reviews39 followers
November 27, 2017
Take a pinch of Jim Butcher's Aeronaut's Windlass, add a dash of Treasure Planet, some vivid imagery from Avatar, a generous helping of banter from Firefly and you might have an idea the feeling this story left me with. Admittedly, the "glowing pumpkins" had me thoroughly off track till I went to the glossary at the end, then my squirrel (moment) got back on its hamster wheel and I was hooked. The captain and crew of the airship Wind Sabre take what should be a basic salvage mission and find themselves neck deep in trouble that takes them across borders, cross species, and possibly at cross purposes with the gods themselves. And all they really wanted was a pay day to let them fix what needed fixing.

Rich language and imagery blend with a complex world, a story told with humor and heart, that left me breathless and wrung out (and a craving for shwarma just like the end if the 1st Avengers movie). I want to know what's in store next for this crew and their already shattered world.

Review based on ARC from NetGalley.
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