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Retribution Falls [Paperback]

Chris Wooding
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
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Book Description

June 16 2010
Frey is the captain of the Ketty Jay, leader of a small and highly dysfunctional band of layabouts. An inveterate womaniser and rogue, he and his gang make a living on the wrong side of the law, avoiding the heavily armed flying frigates of the Coalition Navy. With their trio of ragged fighter craft, they run contraband, rob airships and generally make a nuisance of themselves. So a hot tip on a cargo freighter loaded with valuables seems like a great prospect for an easy heist and a fast buck. Until the heist goes wrong, and the freighter explodes. Suddenly Frey isn't just a nuisance anymore - he's public enemy number one, with the Coalition Navy on his tail and contractors hired to take him down. But Frey knows something they don't. That freighter was rigged to blow, and Frey has been framed to take the fall. If he wants to prove it, he's going to have to catch the real culprit. He must face liars and lovers, dogfights and gunfights, Dukes and daemons. It's going to take all his criminal talents to prove he's not the criminal they think he is ...

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Retribution Falls + The Black Lung Captain: Tales of the Ketty Jay + The Iron Jackal
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Review

Short-listed for the 2010 Arthur C. Clarke Award

"If Robert Louis Stevenson and Patrick O'Brian had teamed up to write a rollicking fantasy, Chris Wooding's Retribution Falls would be the result. Pirates, sky-ships, and golems are just the trappings for a far-flung adventure of stunning imagination and brilliant craftsmanship. I've already booked passage for the next flight of the Ketty Jay...long may she sail!"
--James Rollins, New York Times bestselling author of Altar of Eden

"Beautifully crafted prose and some remarkably imaginative scenes ...and Wooding's sprawling, multifaceted world and rough-and-tumble action will delight steampunk fans." -"Publisher's Weekly, starred review
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""Retribution Falls" picks you up, whisks you swiftly and entertainingly along, and sets you down with a big smile on your face." -Joe Abercrombie, author of "The Last Argument of Kings
""A fast exhilarating read . . . the kind of old fashioned adventure I di --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

About the Author

Chris Wooding is in his early 30s and has already signed his first Hollywood film deal and won several awards for his writing. He is the author of, amongst others, the Broken Sky series, which has sold over 200,000 copies in the US alone, and THE HAUNTING OF ALAIZABEL CRAY, which won the SILVER SMARTIES AWARD. He has travelled extensively, plays bass and guitar, has recorded several albums with various bands and toured in Europe. His books have been published all over the world and translated into 19 languages. He is currently working on two movies with a top Hollywood director.

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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
4.2 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Steampunk Swashbuckling Good Time Jan. 8 2011
Format:Paperback
This was an extremely fun and entertaining book. It was well written and far from predictable. If you love action, pirates and steampunk airships, this is the book for you. The characters are fun and sympathetic, and I found that I just couldn't put it down. I can't wait for the sequel!
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5.0 out of 5 stars The Ketty Jay Series March 24 2014
By Aaron G
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I am writing this review not only for Retribution Falls, but for the entirety of Chris Wooding's "Ketty Jay" series (Retribution Falls, The Black Lung Captain, The Iron Jackal and The Ace of Skulls). I can't recommend this series enough. I bought and read all four novels in the span of the last month, finishing the final book at one o'clock this morning. When I finally closed Ace of Skulls, I actually felt sad that this would be the last time I got to spend time with Darian Frey and the Ketty Jay's crew.

It's not without its flaws, though. "Retribution Falls" is a bit on the rough side, with scenes and chapters that don't quite flow together perfectly. But if you stick with it, by the time you reach the middle of “The Black Lung Captain”, the series is firing on full cylinders and you're in for a ride that will take you all the way through the Mummy-movie like “The Iron Jackal” and won't end until the very last triumphant pages of “The Ace of Skulls”.

A lot of people have compared this series to a steampunk version of Joss Whedon’s “Firefly”, something that I would honestly consider to be a great compliment. It’s true that Ketty Jay hits many of the same notes, but eventually it evolves into something special of its very own.

In the end, though, Ketty Jay has one major thing in common with Firefly – I think I will always feel the same sadness that I’ll never again step foot on that beat-up old ship Ketty Jay or have a drink with Frey and the crew.

Thanks, Mr. Wooding. It’s been a long time since I loved a series this much. You’re an inspiration to us wannabe authors.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Steampunk Air Pirates aarrgh Jan. 14 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Got to like it, Wooding continues to create great stories this is first of 4 (so far) in this series and this was enough to make me buy the next 3.

Great opening and story continues from there.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars C+ for Retribution Falls by Chris Wooding Dec 23 2011
By Zafri M. TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback
Disclaimer: Reviews will mainly concentrate on novels that I enjoyed, and in writing them I will attempt to be succinct and to avoid all manner of spoilery comments. A grading guide follows my reviews. Also, please note that while I have read widely in the genre, my tastes are quite distinct and thus readers should absorb my wisdom with, at the very least, a few pinches of salt. Cheers.
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Retribution Falls by Chris Wooding

Characterization: 6/10
The main character, Darian Frey, is the captain of the Ketty Jay and the leader of a small and highly dysfunctional band of layabouts. Although I enjoy characters who come in various shades of grey, I couldn't help but feel like I've seen these characters all before (watch the show Firefly before or after reading this and you'll know what I mean). I wanted to root for the crew, but that doesn't mean I thought they were especially interesting or three-dimensional.

Plotting and Pacing: 2/5 and 3/5
The novel started off really well for me, but after the first few chapters it was touch and go. The problem was that the crew themselves didn't know what the heck was going on so we had to follow them back and forth as they chased leads and otherwise tried to survive extermination. If you like lots of twists and turns in your novels, the book is fine, but it feels a bit like a pretzel. The pacing gets better after the first hundred pages, but you have to make it that far first.

Setting: 6/10
There's nothing really all that special about the setting. Sure the idea of aerium is cool, and everybody loves airships, but I didn't get the feeling that the world was all that well fleshed out.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.4 out of 5 stars  44 reviews
17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great Fun Sept. 29 2009
By Nick Brett - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
This is great fun, fast moving and entertaining fantasy.

I would not suggest that this is anything overly fresh or new, but it is put together very well and as the book and the characters grow, the book sucks you in deeper and deeper.

Imagine a blend of the TV SF series "Firefly", a bit of Captain Jack and the Pirates from "Stardust". Here we have a crew of a kind of airship (the Ketty Jay) all of whom have their hidden secrets and background and are using the Kitty Jane as a bolt hole - a kind of marriage of convenience until something better comes along. A bit of smuggling and piracy, the crew step over the line a lot and live on the edge and hand to mouth. This changes when they are framed for the destruction of another ship carrying a VIP. Can the crew pull together to help clear their names before they are hunted down and killed?

This is not deep and thoughtful fantasy, it is pure escapist fun. Having said that, it is a far better written book then you imagine it will be. You come to the end with regret and a satisfied grin on your face and the hope that Wooding will write a follow up.
13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars I have a confession to make about this book. Dec 19 2009
By J. Lesley - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
My confession about this book is that I really didn't like it for about the first 100 pages. And I really wanted to like it because a friend had gone to a lot of trouble to send the book to me. He liked it, a lot. So what was wrong? I picked it up and put it down three different times. I didn't like the characters, not a single one of the motley crew of dysfunctional malcontents. My favorite characters so far were Bess the golem and Slag the cat. Not a ringing endorsement there. I didn't see much sense in where the story was headed, mainly because I didn't see WHERE the story was headed. It just seemed to ramble and wobble around, getting the crew in and out of one scrape after another. Then something happened. For me it was that the author made me interested in the captain of the aircraft, Darian Frey, and I began to wonder why he had been set up to take the blame for something he had not done. From then on, the action in this book simply flew. The mish-mash of disconnected characters began to come together into a cohesive unit to try to help each other out of the troubles they were constantly landing in. They began to seem like people who deserved to be liked, people who had to clear up this terrible wrong by whatever means was at their disposal.

I ended up absolutely loving this book. The crew went from one disaster after another and yet they were always focused on their final objective, which was to prove their innocence. With their awful luck, success was never a certainty. The author, Chris Wooding, created quite an unusual mixture in his fantasy world. The aircraft in the story, including Frey's Ketty Jay, were the most otherworldly things in the book while the pirates still fought with cutlass, knife, pistol, and shotgun. There didn't seem to be very much high technology present for these fictional characters to use. That was a little surprising, but it still worked for me after I stopped looking for all the fancy fantasy equipment to show up. And the gold tooth, well, the tooth was a real hoot!

There is nothing deep, intellectual, or subtle about this book. What you get is a rollicking, fast moving (for me after about 100 pages!), adventure story. If what you want is to escape into a fantasy world with swashbuckling pirates then this will be a wonderful book for you. Just try to remember, if it starts out a little slowly for you too, the action really begins to ramp up and it just never slows down from then on.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Steampunk Firefly Feb. 3 2010
By George Ehrhardt - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
My first thought was: Firefly with airships. It has so many of the same elements--a freebooting ship on the shady edge between lawful civilization and the outer dark, a troubled captain and in lieu of a crew, a collection of disparate individuals, each with their own problematic histories, a powerful navy that's hunting them, pirates and gangsters, quasi-human barbarians on the fringes, but perhaps most importantly, it has the same grungy frontier SF feel.

This is both good and bad. If you're looking for something new and original, this may not be the book for you. It does have some creative ideas--his vision of airships are more like an armored Osprey VTOL aircraft, not the standard zepplin image. That adds some new wrinkles I enjoyed, such as airship navigation/combat in 3D. Overall, though, readers who've seen Firefly won't be too surprised by any of the plot twists. On the other hand, Firefly inspires such fierce loyalty from its fans for good reason, and Wooding manages to duplicate those good features.

Like Wheldon's TV series, Wooding fills the book with vivid characters. The first several pages, as the captain shrugs while a loan shark threatens to kill one of his crew if he doesn't surrender Ketty Jay's access codes, are a brilliant characterization. Each of the crew members is interesting in his/her own way, and gets fleshed out and developed as the story goes on. Wooding puts the characters through action-filled adventures and suspenseful dangers, just like he should.

He does add a generous dollop of Steampunk flavor to the Firefly recipe. One of the crew uses magic (watch for the flying demon cutlass). It isn't central, but coexists alongside technology; he even makes the common move of portraying magic practitioners as scientists (or following the scientific method, at least). The plot revolves a conspiracy by those in power seeking more power. And (of course) there are airships, not starships.

Overall, it seems fair to say that Retribution is a very well-crafted, but formulaic book. If you like either of the two formulas he's blending, you'll like this book. I did. If you want a deep and thought provoking literary experience, go read Duncan's Vellum or something.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A can't miss adventure with an endearing cast of characters. April 8 2010
By The Mad Hatter - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Retribution Falls has been called everything from a Steampunk Firefly to Jack Sparrow in a sky ship, both of which just ooze thoughts of wild adventure. I can now say unequivocally that Retribution Falls deserves every good word said and many more. Retribution Falls starts on a compelling high note and never lets up. It'll have you holding your breath in anticipation dozens of times. Retribution Falls has already been recently named for the Arthur C. Clarke Award shortlist of just 6 titles.

Retribution Falls is a hard book to classify. It has classic elements of Fantasy, but with Sci-Fi tech akin to Steampunk yet I hesitate to put it in that camp as it is much more advanced. Retribution Falls is much more than a Firefly riff as it is like an entire season without one lull compressed into less than 375 pages of complete and utter bliss. I do wonder if it would exist without the influence of Joss Whedon, but either way Wooding does an incredible job of creating a group of the most compelling characters I've found in sometime and he makes you care about nearly each and everyone of them right down to the sleep asphyxiating cat.

Darian Frey is the captain of the Ketty Jay, who is quite the sordid ne'er-do-well to the nth degree. Frey's only cares are that he own the Ketty Jay and that no other may posses or even pilot her. His crew has been a revolving door for years, where few of stayed or lived long enough to decide if they want to stay. The ship's doctor is a drunk. The mechanic a virtual mute. The Ketty Jay also has two out-fliers, which are smaller aircraft that provide support, reconnaissance, and much needed gun power on their run, but they are piloted by a very loathsome young man and another who is so war-beaten he can't part with his ship. There is also a mysterious passenger with access to some very unusual science/magic, especially with his dutiful metal monstrosity at his beck and call. And not to forget their brand spanking new female pilot with a puzzling pass and a secret that could mean her ostracization at any moment. Each and every character is larger than life and grow on you more and more. The character's back stories were released a perfect points and really nailed where the character came from and the motivation or lack thereof for their current situation.

From the dialogue with supremely funny re-joiners to the a world that is so well realized, Retribution Falls is a can't miss novel. It is touching in all the right places and a non-stop adventure from start to finish. I feel like I'm gushing a bit on this, but it is without a doubt one of my favorite books this year. I only wish I got to it sooner, but than the wait for book two would be even longer. But not to worry, there is a clear resolution for the story and most of the crew of the Ketty Jay except for one character who will probably need a whole book in and of itself to properly address. The whole plot is intricately and smartly laid out that all quarters are covered.

The fast and furious Retribution Falls is a staggeringly and ridiculously good page turner. The quality of the writing is close to that of Scott Lynch and has left room for so many more immersive stories for the crew of the Ketty Jay. I give Retribution Falls 9.5 out of 10 hats. This is the first time I can remember pre-ordering the second book in a series before even finishing the first. It is that good. The sequel The Black Lung Captain will be released this July in the UK and it can't get here soon enough for me.
19 of 26 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Melodrama, not drama. Sept. 23 2010
By frumiousb - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Right. I understand why I was supposed to love Retribution Falls. Pirates! Airships! Firefly references! Wooding punches the buttons marked "fun" with a grim and repetitive fervor.

When you see those words-- "grim and repetitive fervor"-- you must surely get the impression I did not enjoy this book. Your impression is correct. I did not.

I had a few moments of roller coaster ride thrills. I'll give it that much. But that's not enough.

I found the world building thin. The characters unconvincing. They tell each other everything (or tell us in flashback) they feel. It's fed to us; we aren't led to it. I don't like being manipulated into enjoying myself and feeding off pirates in popular culture is not a substitute for character development.

And then there's the female characters. The book's treatment of women annoyed me right from the moment Jez (the only woman in the pirate crew) is introduced.

Let me stop with this review for a moment for a plea from the heart: Can we please please please have a moratorium on female characters who are too athletic, skinny and boyish to be attractive? Please? That bit is so old, its whiskers have whiskers. Grey ones.

So-- Jez is the only female character who hasn't ruined or found herself on the male parts of Cap'n Frey. And what happens? In the final and predictable last grand caper, her bit part revolves around finally being willing to prove her loyalty by selling herself. "Ick" doesn't quite cover it.

What was that about Frey's male parts? Oh yeah. Trinica turns into a ruthless pirate because he-- horrors!-- seduces and rejects her. Rather than find true love elsewhere, she uses her body and is abused for her body in a kind of business/piracy intiation. Needless to say, her later career is defined by her romantic disappointment and subsequent rejection of all things female.

Then there's the other ex-girlfriend. She ends up sent to a convent after being dumped by Frey. But she naturally still loves him, and is awfully cute when all fired up and angry and all. She's a classic example of the harmless little spitfire of a female. Noxious.

I do understand that the world is meant to be misogynistic by nature, but to my mind that isn't a reason for such one dimensional characters.

Wooding has a clean and sure grasp of prose and he clearly understands the mechanics of plot. This one absolutely wasn't my cup of tea.
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