book review, fantasy

Guns of Liberty by Jamie Mauchline

A secondary world fantasy book that, unfortunately, doesn’t live up to its potential.

Inquisitor Rachel Masters is escorting Duchess Lalita to her wedding, when the airship they’re traveling in is raided by the notorious pirate vessel, The Heart of Gold, captained by former naval officer, Genevieve. When Lalita is taken captive by the pirates, Rachel’s mission to get her back uncovers the fact that both she and Captain Gin are after the same artifact – a sword fabled to wield the power of a god. Despite being on opposite sides of the law, are these two women really that different?

Filled with plenty of ship to ship battles, Guns of Liberty is the first book in what is bound to be a series.

This book was frustrating to read. There is so much to like about it. Airships fly through the mists of a vaporized sea. A magic sword is linked back to a cataclysm, and the rout of the old gods. Principled pirates patrol the skies. Grudges between two countries threaten war. Rachel, Gin and Lalita are three different, yet complimentary characters that deserve to shine.

Unfortunately, the world building, or lack thereof, ruined this book for me. The cataclysm, outlawed magic and old gods are all wonderful ideas, hinted at tantalizingly throughout the book, but mostly hidden by a religion that apes the Catholic Church, complete with bishops and an inquisition, but without explaining to the reader what this ‘church’ believes in, how they worship, or why they so closely resemble a religion from our world.

When the book opened with a convoy of airships, I expected a steampunk world, but instead we are presented with ships, military and weapons that are so similar to our own world of a couple hundred years ago that I was left wondering if this was supposed to be an alternative history, or a future vision of earth after the so called ‘cataclysm’.

Speaking of the cataclysm, I don’t understand why it was such a bad thing. The sea was turned into clouds of perpetual mist, but this doesn’t seem to have hampered the denizens of this world one bit. When did it happen exactly, as sometimes it seemed to have taken place about a century before the events of the novel, while at other times it seemed to have occurred in antiquity.

As for the countries, with all too familiar sounding names, certain characters tell us about the animosity brimming below the surface, but it doesn’t appear on the page.

The resulting novel reads as if a historical drama set during the American War of Independence collided with a steampunk fantasy story and was published as is. It really is such a shame, because glimpses of something that could have been quite brilliant do shine through, but without the background into why we should care about this world and it’s people, the stakes seem too low, and the plot a little dull.

I award Guns of Liberty

Guns of Liberty is available for $4.59 ebook and $14.99 print book on Amazon.

I received a free copy from book sirens in exchange for an honest review.

6 thoughts on “Guns of Liberty by Jamie Mauchline”

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