The Guns Above

(Signal Airship #1)

by Robyn Bennis

The lands of Garnia and Vinzhlandia are at war in the European style (hussars, cavalry, skirmishers, infantry, and, most pertinent to the story: airships). Captain Josette Dupre is given the Mistral, an airship powered by steam engine with multiple bags of “luftgas” to keep it aloft. She must scout the enemy Vins, and stay alive despite air attacks by various cannons and guns.

She has a loyal crew and an aristocratic fop onboard, put there especially to discredit her.

But the fop, Lord Bernat, is indefatigably jolly, an excellent shot, and has reserves of bravery that make him invaluable to her missions.

Most of the book is aerial battles and descriptions of various guns, cannons, and damage to the Mistral. If I were slightly more interested in airships for the sake of airships, this book would have been seriously bad-ass. There are fires and gutshots and missing limbs and all the gory reality of an aerial war. Bernat and Josette trade quips and banter, but they use the lightness of their banter to break the terrible tension.

As a character-focused reader, it just wasn’t my cup of tea. For anyone who glories in action sequences or airships or militaristic steampunkery, this book should go to the top of your list. It seemed scarily realistic to me, but I ended up skimming passages because I just couldn’t attend to the non-stop battle action. I enjoyed Beth Cato’s The Clockwork Dagger and Scott Westerfeld’s Leviathan airships and alternate history airships more.