Retribution Falls by Chris Wooding
I read a lot of this book on my commute to and from work, and other books I’ve read recently have suffered for this, partly because the structure of the story doesn’t stand up to being read in little chunks. Retribution Falls was actually great for this kind of reading: the characters spend a lot of time hopping from place to place, never doing any one thing for too long, and as such there are lots of short sequences and well-structured chapters that made it easy to just pick up the book and carry on from where I left off.
The characters were a bit hit and miss for me, and I didn’t feel like I engaged with them as much as I’d hoped too. I’d pretty much expected ‘Locke Lamora on an airship’, so it’s no wonder Wooding’s characters didn’t quite live up to my expectations (then again, even the last Scott Lynch book didn’t live up to my expectations, so maybe the problem lies with me . . .). The main character here, airship captain and smuggler Darian Frey, is likeable enough, but not quite as roguish or interesting as the blurb suggests, and I actually found myself more invested in the secondary characters, mainly Crake and Jez, than in Frey. Even they didn’t feel fleshed-out enough, though. I think all the characters were lacking depth in one way or another: it felt to me like I was playing an RPG, and the characters were ‘companions’ who eventually revealed something about themselves depending on what you said to them. I also found it highly unbelievable that Frey had spent so much time with these characters before the events of the book, yet was only now starting to care about them enough to take an interest in them.
Criticism aside, I enjoyed reading the book, and am looking forward to getting hold of the second one in the series sooner rather than later.