Romulus Buckle & the Luminiferous Aether Author: Richard Ellis Preston, Jr. Series: The Chronicles of the Pneumatic Zeppelin 3 Publication Date: December 22, 2015 Format: Kindle eBook, 283 pages List Price: $3.99 Review Copy: Provided by the Author
Earth is an icy wasteland, devastated by an alien invasion hundreds of years before. Left with only steam power, the human survivors have formed into steampunk clans. And now these clans are at war.
Reeling from a Founders clan invasion, Captain Romulus Buckle of the Pneumatic Zeppelin faces a desperate decision. Does he return home to bolster the Grand Alliance or attempt to rescue his sister, Elizabeth, who is prophesied to be the key to winning the war? With only an ancient automaton and the words of a madman to guide him, Buckle leads an expedition to the mysterious underwater city of Atlantis, where mythical monsters and human treachery make every move perilous.
The prophesy of a trusted oracle has convinced Captain Romulus Buckle that he will find his long lost sister Elizabeth in Atlantis. The oracle warned that without Elizabeth, The Grand Alliance has no chance in winning the war against the power-hungry Founders. Buckle, leading a small team that includes Lieutenant Sabrina Seraphim and an ancient but child-like automaton named Penny Dreadful, embarks on a covert quest to find his sister and forge an alliance with the Atlanteans. As hostilities between the Founders and the clans of Snow World escalate, the team is forced to hire mercenaries to transport them undetected to Atlantis. Unfortunately, a blockade of powerful Founder submersibles stands in their way.
Max, Romulus' adopted half Martian/ half human sister, is recovering from her near fatal encounter with a sabertooth while saving Romulus's life during The Engines of War (book 2). She finds recuperating in the infirmary unpalatable and seeks to return to the Pneumatic Zeppelin as soon as possible. Her parting from her adoptive father, Admiral Balthazar Crankshaft stands out as a tender moment for the normally undemonstrative Max.
Also in this volume, the reader relives flashbacks from Pneumatic Zeppelin officers Sabrina and Max. I especially enjoyed Sabrina's escape from the Founders and tidbits of her life before being adopted by Admiral Crankshaft.
Romulus Buckle & the Luminiferous Aether is packed with everything that makes author Richard E. Preston Jr.'s steampunk adventures so highly entertaining. However, instead of being treated to Buckle's high altitude battles between enemy zeppelins, Luminiferous Aether features two different underwater games of cat and mouse that kept me reading far into the night.
Preston's remarkable world building skills and his attention to detail is certainly a highlight. The perilous journey to the troubled city of Atlantis and the description of its architecture and domes practically leapt from the pages. It was amazing that the author's depiction of tight spaces felt so real that I actually felt tense, uneasy and almost claustrophobic at times.
Although this book leaves many questions unanswered I still finished the last page with a sense of satisfaction and look forward to Buckle's next exploits. Definitely start with book one because Preston covers a large amount of new ground with each book. They are fairly quick reads so those new to the series will be able to catch up pretty fast. Romulus Buckle & the Luminiferous Aether is an exhilarating, steam-powered rollercoaster ride you won't want to miss.
Check out the Art Reveal: Romulus Buckle, Max the Martian, and Lieutenant Sabrina Serafim from The Chronicles of the Pneumatic Zeppelinhere.