Jack Cloudie, the fifth novel in the series, has finally come across the pond to our benighted shores. While residents of the great old United Kingdom can read all six books in the series already, we must be content with what we have. And let me tell you, what we have is pretty good.
In Jack Cloudie the Kingdom will go to war, not that that’s anything new, but this time they face the people of Cassarabia and their womb mage creations. This time, the Royal Aerostatical Navy will have to face airships like their own. This time, Jared Black won’t be in his native element, the water. Can they win? More importantly, will we enjoy the ride?
The answer to the second question is an unqualified yes. If you love high adventure, satire or Jared Black, this is a book for you. The cranky old Commodore is back, once again plying his wits, vast experience and exhaustive knowledge of just about everything against the world and the contrary members of his own nation. This time he’s been called in to ride herd over an experimental armored airship, built by the now-defunct House of Quest, that has been sent out to figure out how the Cassarabians are getting the nonflammable gas they’re using in their airships. And he’ll have to do it without one mortal consideration for his aging bones or life of difficulty, so there’s nothing left to do but rail at the world and grumble his way through.
On the other side of the battle lines, Omar ibn Barir, former slave, is working his way through the ranks of the Cassarabian army towards a revelation that will shake his country to the core. Not that Omar ever sets out to do these things. Mostly, he just wants to save the girl and do his duty. But the simplest goals often have the most complex implications.
Like all the Jackelian novels, Jack Cloudie is a rousing tale of adventure. While it does feature the Commodore, he once again sits comfortably in the secondary character line-up, so don’t go in thinking these are the trials of a slightly overweight old submarine captain. Airships, genetic engineering and many other factors come into play. Like all Jackelian novels, Jack Cloudie contains elements of satire, particularly strong in this tale, but as saying more than that definitely qualifies as a spoiler I’ll just say they’re there. Note that, while Cassarabia is a theocracy with weird practices, it is not, in and of itself, the primary focus of Hunt’s satirical guns. So if that kind of thing bothers you or entices you, be aware that it’s, at most, a minor subtheme.
All in all, if you like steampunk, satire, high adventure, airships or Jared Black, this is a novel for you.