RogerBW's Blog

The Ships of Air, Martha Wells 16 February 2024

2004 gaslamp fantasy. All the pieces are moving in different directions, across multiple worlds and multiple factions.

This is a middle volume. You could technically start here but, when the only paperback copy of this book on Amazon UK is currently being offered for £1,500, I can't see why you would. You will be only very loosely reminded who Tremaine is, or anyone else. At the other end, there's even less conclusion than at the end of the first book; some things are better, some are worse, and matters are continuing.

"Let him scramble to get a handle on you, instead of the other way around."

He thought that over, hoping to find a hole in it, but it was too patently evident to argue with. And her confidence told him she knew she was right. He dropped down into the next chair instead, demanding in irritation, "Why do you know things like that?"

She shrugged, and nibbled at her broken fingernail. "Annoying people is something of a talent of mine. I gave it up for a while, but lately it's started to come back to me."  

With that in mind, it doesn't have the middle-volume slump that many trilogies do. There's a lot happening, on a personal level as well as in the big struggle against the invaders.

"Also, it's not me she doesn't like, it's Gil. He slept with her once, before she married Nicanor."

Tremaine lifted her brows, genuinely shocked. "And that causes women to start vindictive vendettas against his entire family?" The comment was a knee-jerk reaction, covering her very real surprise that Giliead had ever actually unbent long enough to do something stupid, such as sleep with a woman who had "heart-eating bitch" written on her forehead.

I confess I am a little dubious about an airship repeatedly described as having half the top speed of the 30-knot luxury liner Queen Ravenna (closely modelled on Queen Mary). If anything, the airships should be twice as fast. Still.

Some hotel or Great House in Chaire must have decided that the contents of its cellar were better off going to the bottom on the Ravenna than being left for the Gardier. She wasn't familiar with this winery, but the stuff had legs like a cabaret dancer and left a taste in her mouth like spring in the Marches and newly cut hay. Too bad the people who owned and worked the vineyards would die or flee, and the grapes would rot on the vine this summer. Only the headiness of the vintage made the poignant sting of that thought bearable.

But it always comes back to the people. I like these people, and I enjoy spending time with them.

Tremaine turned to face him. "You heard rumors that I'm crazy."

She kept her voice level and even, but something in her eyes made Basimi's expression go wary and still. "Some."

"They're true. But I'm not in the army, and neither are the Syprians, and they think I'm in charge. What do you think?"

He wet his lips, his eyes flicking to Giliead, then Ilias. He said evenly, "I think you're in charge, ma'am."

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Previous in series: The Wizard Hunters | Series: The Fall of Ile-Rien

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