RogerBW's Blog

Silver Bullet, Melissa Scott and Jo Graham 21 September 2020

2013 historical fantasy, third in the Order of the Air series. In the winter of 1932, planes are crashing in the Rockies, and a Greek medallion being valued in New York may be worth vastly more than it seems.

And mostly this works. It's a step back in pace from Steel Blues, since much of it is clearly setting things up for later in the series, or completing character arcs that had been started earlier. Yes, all right, it's a bit "everything will be all right if you trust the found-family that accepts and loves you" but one could certainly do worse.

Many reviewers get excited to see the elderly Nikola Tesla as a character here, but that's the easy part because everyone thinks they know about him already; much more challenging, and interesting to me, is the use of Willam Dudley Pelley, leader of the Silver Shirts, America's answer to the SA, as a principal villain here. (This is particularly effective because Pelley was himself an esotericist; this is the first time in the series we've seen magicians with politics opposed to those of the protagonists, rather than merely out for themselves.) And of course in 1932 it's still Stalin and communism that people worry about.

Where the story flags is in its split of setting between Colorado and New York, with one of the characters isolated for most of the book. This is a team that works better together, not just in terms of their own satisfaction but in terms of the reader's enjoyment, and once everyone gets back together things are much more satisfactory.

This series isn't a classic of literature, but it's enjoyable without reaching to heights which it knows it can't attain. There's good 1930s flying action and a decent bit of magic too.

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Previous in series: Steel Blues | Series: Order of the Air

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