A steampunk book.
Publication year: 2014
The third book in the Drifting Isle Chronicles and part of the Storybundle’s Steampunk bundle. All of the books are written by different writers. They happen in the same city but have different main characters.
Oladel Adewole is a Professor in the Eisenstadt University. The City is situated right below the island which drifts in the sky, mysterious. Nobody has visited it before. Adewole is not a native but from Jeroa and doesn’t like his life in Eisenstadt. He’s knows ancient languages and is also an expert in folklore and history, especially on stories about the Drifting Isle. He has only one friend, Deviatka, who is also staying in the same boarding house, and feels isolated from his own culture and people. The Jerians are black. They drink coffee instead of tea and have different clothing than the people in Eisenstadt. Adewole’s family has died, including his little sister whom he loved dearly. He also knows that the Dean of the University despises him.
But then Hildy Goldstein makes her historical flight to the Drifting Isle and everything changes. The government is sending a party up to the island. It’s assumed that there are people living there, so they want Adewole to come along as a linguist and a folklorist. He’s more than delighted. Both Adewole and Deviatka are part of the expedition group, which also includes a lot of soldiers.
This is a tale of first contact, but not is space. Language plays a large part and I think it’s used well. Adewole is a great scholarly and peaceful protagonist. He’s also charming and a bit naïve which allows him to try the friendly approach at first. The people on the isle are suspicious and not very friendly, which is understandable.
The various cultures have different approaches to religion and magic. The eisenstadters are mostly atheists who think of religion as quaint stories and little else. Many of them have open scorn towards any believers and they don’t believe in magic. Adewole’s parents were devout followers of their gods and while Adewole isn’t as devout, he still respects them. Apparently, the Jerians as a whole are more religious than the people in Eisenstadt. The people on the Isle are afraid of their God and forbid any talking about him/it.
Eisenstadt has talking birds and the isle has them, too. One of the significant secondary characters is a talking owl who was a lot of fun.
This is mostly a fun and quick read. However, near the end it got really dark and that was a little jarring to me. The end twists were also very surprising.
It’s difficult to categorize this book as either SF or fantasy, but I lean towards more fantasy.