Book Review: The Airmen by R J Ashby

Action-packed, inventive, rip-roaring, bloodthirsty and brilliantly described, but not for children!

The Airmen is the first in the series The Pirates of Aireon by R J Ashby.  You are thrown headlong into a world of water, air, salvage, pirates and living off what you can find.  And a lot of violence.  Jardan and his father are salvage operators in their flying machine, a dirigible or airship.  The cities in this world are made up of airships snagged together with wires and ropes, making a regular cats-cradle of a metropolis.  Not that Jardan enjoys visiting the cities since they are dirty, smelly and dangerous.  From the moment Jardan and his father are attacked by pirates as they quietly work on the reef, avoiding attention from sharks, kraken and other highly dangerous sea creatures, the story hardly pauses for breath.

Jardan’s adventures take him from one airship to another, one set of companions to another, with a lot of fights and deaths as he works towards his freedom.  The rule of law echoes another pirate refrain – take what you can, give nothing back!  But Jardan has two particular problems.  One is the wrath of The Chairwoman, the leader of the Pirates of Aireon themselves, and another is an extremely nasty torturing bounty hunter. Persons of a squeamish disposition might find him a little too much for them.  If the film Gladiator is too violent for you, so is this.

The description is superb. Enough details to really get the structures and the atmosphere, but not so much that you can’t use your own imagination.  Every setting is really brought to life.  The characters are excellently drawn. I felt the phase of the book where they were in the Underworld slackened somewhat, and potentially led into the trap of ‘just another space opera’ but the final part got away from that and rescued the story for its flight into the next book.

A rollicking read for fantasy, scifi and thriller readers, mid-late teens and up.

I received this book as part of a First Reads Giveaway from Goodreads.

Because of the way the title is repeated on each page, I’m not sure whether the title is The Airmen, part 1 of the series the Pirates of Aireon, or it is Part 1 of the Airmen series.  But it’s a good story and I’m looking forward to the next one.  And I assume RJ Ashby is another flying boat fan!

The Airmen Part 1: The Pirates of Aireon by R J Ashby

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