|The Burning Sky by Joseph Robert Lewis|
Taziri Ohana is an elite airship pilot, though the long hours away from home have taken a toll on her family and she longs for a simpler life. When the Northern Air Corps is wiped out in a catastrophic fire, only Taziri survives to help the marshals pursue the suspects across the skies of Marrakesh. Their investigation reveals a vast conspiracy of deposed aristocrats, wealthy industrialists, and warmongers plotting against the crown. Taziri discovers that her own inventions have been perverted by the conspirators, the cities plunge into violent riots, and their only hope for salvation may be an exiled princess, her swashbuckling escort, and a crippled airship plummeting out of the burning sky.
A note about the text
This is a work of historical fantasy. Some of this world may be familiar to you.
But in this world, Europe never emerged from the last Ice Age and only the southern areas are habitable. North Africa is cool, wet, and fertile. Ancient nations such as the Persian Empire have persisted, though others, such as the Romans, never rose to power. Some of the countries in this world reflect the cultures and attitudes of the Renaissance while others reflect the Industrial Age. Historical figures appear, though they too may be different from the ones you have known.
Don’t expect this world to conform to the history that you know. The people and places are different. The climate and wildlife are different.
Even death is different here.
I want to start off completely honestly and say that I never thought I'd finish reading this book. It's not a terrible long book, but I am a reader who likes to get lost in the world of the story and this is one hell of a world. The "steampunk" fad always seemed interesting to me, but it wasn't even until I finished the book that I thought about whether or not this term applies. The thought of inflatable airships and a world where lights out is at sundown simply took my breath away.
This story begins with Taziri, but this is in no way Taziri's story. It took a while to get all of the characters straight, but soon you realize how intricately woven their lives really are. The synopsis leads you to believe Taziri is the main character, and personally she was the character I connected most with. As a mother with a young daughter, I could imagine the pain and worry associated with the fantastic journey she gets to go on.
There is only one aspect of the novel that truly bothered me, and that involved Dr. Medina's experimentation. While I understand that her actions were aimed to show the moral character of both her and Lady Sade, the basement of the prosthetics shop is somewhere that left me with nightmares. Once again, Lewis described it in great detail, but the feeling of being there is something I could have lived without.
Altogether I think that this was the best science fiction I've read in a long time. This is one story that really had my mind going as it pulled me right into it. If you enjoy fantasy, science fiction, or really any kind of adventure, grab a copy of The Burning Sky by Joseph Robert Lewis.