Book Review: The Kingdom Beyond The Waves

 

 

The Kingdom Beyond the Waves

By Stephen Hunt

Tor Fantasy Paperback/506 pages

$7.99

ISBN: 9780765360236

Release Date: May 2010

Amelia Harsh is an academic with an explorer’s soul. And magically-muscled arms. Her disdain for following rules finds her without employment and an adventurer’s itch that must be scratched: to find the lost City of Camlantis. While the mere notion of the utopian city is denied by academics, Amelia is certain the city exists somewhere above the clouds, further than any normal airship can venture. So when she is offered information about the partial remains of Camlantis, underwater deep in the Liongeli jungle and a position to lead an exploit, she can’t refuse. Even though the mission is being backed by Abraham Quest, the man she holds responsible for her father’s bankruptcy and resulting suicide.

Amelia blackmails an old friend, Commodore Black, to captain his u-boat the Sprite. Compelled to agree, he assembles a motley team to crew his vessel, along with Quest’s hired steroid-enhanced female warriors, military men, and a half-mad steamman. On her way into the heart of the dangerous jungle, Amelia must escape giant lizards, a cult of steammen, and the Daggish–plant-like creatures with a hive mind who assimilate anyone caught in their territory.

At the same time, Furnace-breath Nick, an outlaw bent on revenge against the Commonshare, and his companion Septimoth, and exiled lashlite, stumble into a mystery revolving around Jules Robur, a famous mechomancer. Uncovering the robbing of steammen graves, agents of the Court of the Air hidden in Abraham Quest’s service, and a disturbing lashlite prophecy, the duo discover Amelia’s quest to find the pacifist society could mean the destruction of the world.

The Kingdom Beyond the Waves is an action-packed, steampunk adventure reminiscent of Indiana Jones. The one drawback to this book is the lack of character depth, with the main characters attributed loss of family or wretched childhoods as tragic motivation for their actions, and there is not much more beyond that. The characters are likeable, however, and their lack of depth is compensated for by Hunt’s rich imagination and worldbuilding. This book is almost over-stuffed with ideas and the rapid sequence of happenings can at times become overwhelming. Overall, it’s a great piece of speculative fiction, delivering inventive thrills at a dizzying pace.

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