Review: The Black Lung Captain

Posted: September 1, 2010 by in Books We Love (5/5 single_star) Meta: Chris Wooding, Science Fiction

Where to even begin? Chris Wooding‘s RETRIBUTION FALLS (EBR Review) is one of our favorite novels. The mixture of piracy, SF, and retro-future adventure won us over within the first five pages. The main character of that novel, Darian Frey (part Han Solo, part Malcolm Reynolds, all awesome) is the captain of the Ketty Jay. He is a pirate. A smuggler. A womanizer. We finished RETRIBUTION FALLS a few hours after it arrived in the mail. We needed more. Luckily, the sequel was already coming out fairly shortly. Wooding’s second Ketty Jay novel, THE BLACK LUNG CAPTAIN arrived in the mail (love you Book Depository!!!!), and everything else in life came to a screeching halt so we could read it.

It’s every bit as good as the first novel.

THE BLACK LUNG CAPTAIN starts with Frey and the crew of the Ketty Jay in a bad spot. They are all restless. They are being over-taken by their pasts. Even the most simple of heists–robbing a defenseless orphanage–has gone completely wrong.

Then comes the job offer. It’s too good to be true, but aren’t all the best jobs? There is an artifact in the wilds, behind a magically sealed door aboard a thousands-year-old wreck. The artifact? Worth fortunes. The danger? Astronomical. Does anything go right? Please. The dramatic problems and failures are what make this novel unspeakably fun.

Really, that is what THE BLACK LUNG CAPTAIN is all about. Fun. Adventure. Character development… wait, what? Character development in a story like this? Oh yes. Mainly this story is about Frey’s and Jez’s individual developments amidst the crazy gun-fights, and air-ship battles. We get the complete and total story about what Jez is, and it is fantastic. We see a deeper look into Frey, and what makes him who he is. Closure for Crake. Cats get punched. This novel really is full of complete awesomeness.

Look, there really isn't much out there that is like THE BLACK LUNG CAPTAIN. It is one of the best adventure stories we have read.

The flow of the writing is perfect, as is the pacing of the story. From action sequence to action sequence, everything is tight. There is one bit of eye-rolling convenience that is telegraphed half way through the novel, but it is easily forgivable considering the strength of the rest of the story.

Look, there really isn’t much out there that is like THE BLACK LUNG CAPTAIN. It is one of the best adventure stories we have read since, well, RETRIBUTION FALLS. The only downside here is that the physical books are UK only. Don’t let that stop you. This novel will have you turning the pages with glee, and fist-pumping in the air after you’ve finished it.

  • Recommended Age: 16+
  • Language: Here and there, but nothing extreme
  • Violence: Holy crap, yes! Jez, as Wooding most likely intended, becomes completely and utterly amazing
  • Sex: Alluded to, but never shown


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