Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Liberator's Ruin - P.J. Johns



Title: Liberator's Ruin
Author: P.J. Johns
Genre: Fantasy
Published: 2011
Formats: Ebook

Available at:
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“Liberator's Ruin” by P.J. Johns is a book that I found difficult to classify; it initially comes across as a steampunk styled science fiction novel although the feeling is much more twentieth century as petrol, diesel and other forms of locomotion are used in abundance. However, the story is set on an alternate world where a form of alchemy takes place that is more like magic that science and it gives the story a feel more like fantasy than science fiction. Either way, I found the story and the world it was set in to be both intriguing and enjoyable.

The story follows several different storylines with the central plot being based around the country of Illum which has been invaded and conquered by the Rhivellian Empire. The deposed princess of Illum however is determined to take it back with her small collection of insurgents, even if the might of the Empire and its High Inquisitor are standing in her way. At the same time we follow the escapades of Nathaniel, an airship captain who is more loveable rogue than honest trader. Whilst he and his crew try to avoid being drawn into any conflict, his choices soon send him into a collision course with both the Princess of Illum and the Rhivellian High Inquisitor.

I have to admit that I had assumed that the plot would focus around some plucky rebels and their brave and good princess as they try to defeat the mighty and evil empires. However, I was pleasantly surprised to see there was much more to the plot than this and I was never happier to realise that I really didn’t like the princess and her rather brutal ways. This isn’t a story with a simple form of good and evil, the lines are blurred and it is up to the reader to really decide who is in the right and who is in the wrong. I can’t really say much more without spoiling it, but simply put the plot is clever, complex and goes in a direction that I never expected

The various different plots lines were at times both a blessing and a curse. The moving between narratives was used well to ensure that the pace of the story was kept high and that actions and thrills could occur throughout the novel to try and keep the reader hooked. However, at times this jumping around could interrupt part of the story that I was enjoying which was a shame. For example, there is one plot line regarding a fighter in the coliseum that didn’t really interest me much so when we would leave an enjoyable escapade of Nathaniel to follow this I found it rather easy to put the book down.

The characters are a real high point of the novel as I found them all to be interesting, varied and well-drawn out. In addition, the blurring of the lines between good and evil has ensured that there are no real out and out heroes in the book. Every character has their own with various associated strengths and weaknesses so at times the various betrayals that occur can catch the reader completely unaware. The interactions between the crew of Nathaniel’s airship were also thoroughly entertaining, the camaraderie, friendship and loyalty was there for everyone to follow.

Overall, I found this to be an enjoyable story that has an interesting and complex plot alongside some very entertaining characters. There is also a clever mix of science fiction and fantasy aspects which should ensure it will appeal to most fans of those genres. Personally, I am hoping that there are future stories set in this universe as I think there are still some unanswered questions and I would love to see what adventures await Nathaniel and his crew in the future.

Challenges Book Counts Towards:
Speculative Fiction Challenge