I have a fondness for steampunk stories. Or, as the case may be, historical fantasy stories that have a strong steampunk bent. Airships and trains and all those wonderful things are like candy to me and I am thrilled by a chance to read anything even remotely related to it. Enter in Patrick LeClerc’s The Beckoning Void and suddenly I have a new story to devour.
1. Thoughts on the plot
This story follows Emilia DuMond, an actress turned spy for an organisation determined to stop a group of eldritch being worshipping zealots from getting a key piece to their plan to summon their lost gods. She travels across Europe in an airship piloted by a former slave who escaped the Civil War in America and guarded by a middle-aged Scots swordsman and an Arab woman who prefers fighting to politics. Of course, nothing is ever quite so easy as merely stealing a book…
I really enjoyed this plot. From the start, it felt like a thievery-to-prevent-bad-things novel, and it was for the most part. However, there were extra elements that involved action, airship battles, and characters performing acts of heroism that fuel fandoms for ages to come. What started as a fairly straightforward plot took twists and turns that were great fun to read and watch unfold. I enjoyed it, and would have enjoyed it even without the airships.
2. Thoughts on the characters
Again, at first the characters seemed simpler than what they turned out to be. I thought they were going to be caricatures of certain stereotypes that sometimes appear in fantasy adventure novels (for good reason, given they’re entertaining), but that notion was quickly dispelled. The characters were intelligent, clever, and had just enough snark to add the perfect amount of humour to the story. I especially liked the raport between Alya and Connolly, (whose names I may have misspelled) which worked as a great counterpoint to some of Emilia’s more serious moments.
3. Favourite part
For a person who doesn’t fly, I have a strange fondness for airships and airship battles. I have no intention of ever stepping foot near one (if they were a thing), but I’m happy to read about them.
My only real critique for this novel is that the ending felt a little truncated. I wanted to know what happens with some of the characters, and while the primary threads of plot are tied off, there are a few questions of what happens with certain characters that I want to know. Granted, that could just be me bemoaning the cliffhanger. I’ve been known to do that.
Overall, I would say that The Beckoning Void was an excellent fantasy adventure with eldritch beings, history that doesn’t always follow the remembered lines, and characters to root for. A great book.