Review: Retribution Falls

Posted: April 9, 2010 by in Books We Love (5/5 single_star) Meta: Chris Wooding, Science Fiction

Being the diligent readers that we are, we often browse through the import selection of various websites (imports to the US that is). After all, it is usually only a matter of time before the book get published here. But, every now-and-again, we get a tad impatient (We want books NAO!). This was the case with Chris Wooding‘s RETRIBUTION FALLS (Amazon).

It’s hard to say what genre RETRIBUTION FALLS, uh, falls under. It is SF, with some magic, and religion, and a retro-futuristic world, airships, pirates, gun-fights, sword-fights, and dog fights. It is truly a mix of everything. Usually, this is a recipe for disaster. Wooding, on the contrary, makes it dang-near perfect.

How about we walk you through just the first few chapters. We start with an escape from a hostage situation, then a gun-battle on some airship docks, and then an airship/fighter-plane-thing dog fight sequence. This is in the first 50 pages. Yeah. Full of win.

RETRIBUTION FALLS tells the story of Frey, the caption of the Ketty Jay, an airship. As with most pirate-ish novels, Frey and his crew are small-time smugglers and pirates–a glorified black market delivery crew. You could probably guess that when they take a job that should give them an easy paycheck, things go absurdly bad. Airships explode, people die, and the crew of the Ketty Jay is framed for it. A standard plot, more or less. The execution of it is what rocked our worlds.

RETRIBUTION FALLS is SF withsome magic, religion, a retro-futuristic world, airships, pirates, gun-fights, sword-fights. It's truly a mix of everything.

Do you remember the first time you saw Han Solo? His devil-may-care attitude, blowing the crap out of Greedo (Han shot FIRST!), and introducing the whiny Luke to the Millennium Falcon really sold us on how awesome Han was. This is very similar. Frey is our story’s Han Solo, and the Ketty Jay is very much the Millennium Falcon. He has a full complement of crew on board, and they all are (obviously) running from something. We have a fighter pilot, a doctor, a daemonist (summons daemons and can attach them to things to enchant them), a golem (courtesy of the daemonist), and many more. Every character has a place, and they all either grow tremendously over the course of the novel, or they suffer extreme personal consequences due to the events that transpire. We loved every single character–a rarity for us.

The pacing, true to an adventure-like novel, was crazy fast the entire time. Action scenes bleed into more action scenes, with political intrigue and humor tying them together. Joe Abercrombie has a cover quote on the front cover, and really that should tell you all your need to know about the action and pacing. But don’t mistake this for a balls-out, action-only popcorn read. There is some serious political and religious foundation building going on here. There are some very powerful character moments as well.

RETRIBUTION FALLS is the best adventure story we have read in years. Go read it, and when you finish, check your reflection in a mirror. You are bound to see a huge smile on your face. Chris Wooding has given us a series worth following. A series, you ask? Oh yes, a wonder series of retro-SF adventure pirate novels (you KNOW that sounds effing awesome). The sequel comes out shortly in the UK. We suggest you go import book 1, and preorder book 2, BLACK LUNG CAPTAIN (Amazon).

  • Recommended Age: 16+
  • Language: There is some, and every so-often it gets strong, but nothing you don't expect from smugglers/pirates
  • Violence: Oh yes, and it is in equal measures amazing, and heart-breaking. The action is awesomely executed from top to bottom.
  • Sex: Innuendo in action and dialogue. Nothing shown.

Chris Wooding is awesome. Go tell him so.


  • Dan Smyth says:

    I've had Weavers of Saramyr on my TBR list for quite some time now, and even though I've seen buzz on-line about this book, it hadn't connected in my head that they were both written by the same guy. His blog is pretty good. Lots of interesting stuff to read that makes it obvious the guy has a raging inferno of an imagination. Will have to redouble my efforts toward finding something of his to read. If I weren't broke, I'd just follow orders, but…alas.

  • Jon Sprunk says:

    This book has been on my radar for some time. Great review.

    And, yes, Solo fired first.

  • Raethe says:

    Canadian readers get his stuff too. Nyah nyah.

    Good review. Been meaning to pick this one up for a while anyway.

  • koshr says:

    Can you tell me an estimated reading time for this ?

  • Depends on how fast you read. Both Nick and I read pretty quick. The awesome pacing makes it quite the page turner. It will be a fast 370-ish pages.

    Raethe–If you can go to your local store and grab it, you totally should.

    Jon–I'm looking forward to reading your book…once I get it from Nick!

  • Reuben says:

    The super awesomeness you have described makes me want to sprint to my bookstore (Bolen Books!) and devour it with my eyeballs!

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