A tale of high adventure and derring-do set in the same Victorian-style world as the acclaimed The Court of the Air and The Rise of the Iron Moon.
The isolated island of Jago is the only place Hannah Conquest has ever known as home. Encircled by the magma ocean of the Fire Sea, it was once the last bastion of freedom when the world struggled under the tyranny of the Chimecan Empire during the age-long winter of the cold-time. But now this once-shining jewel of civilization faces an uncertain future as its inhabitants emigrate to greener climes, leaving the basalt plains and raging steam storms far behind them.
For Hannah and her few friends the streets of the island's last occupied underground city form a vast, near-deserted playground. But Hannah's carefree existence comes to an abrupt halt when her guardian, Archbishop Alice Gray, is brutally murdered in her own cathedral.
Someone desperately wants to suppress a secret kept by the archbishop, and if the attempts on Hannah's own life are any indication, the killer believes that Alice passed the knowledge of it onto her ward before her saintly head was separated from her neck.
But it soon becomes clear that there is more at stake than the life of one orphan. A deadly power struggle is brewing on Jago, involving rival factions in the senate and the island's most powerful trading partner. And it's beginning to look as if the deaths of Hannah's archaeologist parents shortly after her birth were very far from accidental. Soon the race is on for Hannah and her friends to unravel a chain of hidden riddles and follow them back to their source to save not just her own life, but her island home itself.
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Praise for Stephen Hunt:
‘Hunt’s imagination is probably visible from space. He scatters concepts that other writers would mine for a trilogy like chocolate-bar wrappers. This is Philip Pullman with a dose of benzedrine. Hold on to your hat and let yourself get carried away.’ Tom Holt
'A ripping yarn … the story pounds along … constant inventiveness keeps the reader hooked … the finale is a cracking succession of cliffhangers and surprise comebacks. Great fun' SFX
'An inventive, ambitious work, full of wonders and marvels' Lisa Tuttle, The Times
'The characters are convincing and colourful, but the real achievement is the setting, a hellish take on Victorian London … the depth and complexity of Hunt's vision makes it compulsive reading for all ages' Guardian
'Wonderfully assured … Hunt knows what his audience like and gives it to them with a sardonic wit and carefully developed tension' Time OutFrom the Author:
1. Your novels are a blend of adventure, action, thriller, fantasy and steampunk! How would you categorise them?
If I had to pick one traditional category, I guess fantasy adventure would cover it. I was thinking about this topic the other day, and I actually came up with a clever new genre name to cover most of my work to date: Fanta-sci, which is fantasy with a sweet twist of sci-fi added to the glass. You heard about it here first!
2. Your book covers are very striking and attractive – do you have a favourite?
I’m a sucker for a Jules Verne-style submarine, so the Nautilus-like submersible craft of my second novel, THE KINGDOM BEYOND THE WAVES, has always grabbed me. That being said, all the covers are very nice, with a seamless continuity of style that makes them stand out on any reader’s bookshelf.
3. All of your novels work as standalones, but certain characters do appear in all three. Are these characters your favourites, or did you feel that they had more of a story to tell?
I think my linking characters are a little like the novels’ covers – they help provide the reader with a thread to follow through the novels, while keeping the books as standalones and not creeping into the endless trilogy territory. It’s quite similar to how Terry Pratchett handles his Discworld novels. You’ll often get little crossovers from Rincewind and the other wizards or the City Guard, even when Terry’s main focus is on someone totally new. You could say that semi-reformed u-boat privateer Commodore Jared Black is my Rincewind.
4. Do you have a favourite scene from the books so far?
That’s a little like asking a parent to tell you which one of their children is their favourite! (the stock answer is, of course, ‘all of them’). I always have a lot of fun with the endings of my novels, though. There’s normally a grand battle or showdown in the style of Ian Fleming’s Bond books or Bernard Cornwell’s Sharpe series of historical adventures. As long as I’m writing on the gallop, I know readers will be turning the pages on the gallop.
5. Do you plot out your books in great detail or start writing and see where they take you?
I have an overactive imagination, so I find that plotting in great detail helps me keep the show on the road – although I know there’ll still be a few off-piste twists and turns to incorporate as I get to know the characters and their personal situations better.
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Book Description Harper Collins Ome, 2010. Book Condition: Good. N/A. Shows some signs of wear, and may have some markings on the inside. Bookseller Inventory # GRP84065734
Book Description Paperback. Book Condition: Good. The book has been read but remains in clean condition. All pages are intact and the cover is intact. Some minor wear to the spine. Bookseller Inventory # GOR007807374
Book Description Paperback. Book Condition: Very Good. The book has been read, but is in excellent condition. Pages are intact and not marred by notes or highlighting. The spine remains undamaged. Bookseller Inventory # GOR005898583