Friday, June 04, 2010

Edi's Spotlight: Thomas Riley by Nick Valentino

Hello and welcome to a Fide review. For all of you who don't know ,ediFanoB shares his brain with four more personalities and we are Bona Fide, Bona, the Keeper of the minutes (Kotm) and me.
Today I have the honor to present you a review.
Author Nick Valentino has been so kind to send us a signed copy of his debut novel Thomas Riley (2010) [ISBN-13: 978-1590807002] and we promised him to read and review his book:
Let's have a look at the blurb:
"For more than twenty years West Canvia and Lemuria have battled one another in a constant war.
From the safety of his laboratory, weapons designer Thomas Riley has cleverly and proudly empowered the West Canvian forces with his brilliant designs. But when a risky alchemy experiment goes horribly wrong, Thomas and his wily assistant, Cynthia Bassett, are thrust onto the front lines of battle.
Forced into shaky alliances with murderous sky pirates in a deadly race to kidnap the only man who can undo the damage--the mad genius behind Lemuria's cunning armaments--Thomas' own genius is put to the ultimate test." [Back of the book]
On the back you can read: Ages 13 and up. That means a YA novel. We don't read many YA books.
But In this case I can assure you that it does not matter if you are 13 or 50 like me or even older. It is an all age book. Compared to the other stuff I read, Thomas Riley was a short read with just 277 pages. But I learned a long time ago, that it is the content that counts.
So what delivers Nick Valentino on 277 pages?
I was thinking whether to start with the world or the character or the story. Finally I decided to start with the world.
The two countries West Canvia and Lemuria are combatants in an ongoing war for more than 20 years and both have an obvious European background. Somewhere in the book someone spoke with a British accent. Beside the mentioned countries the Seychelles are one more location.
But world means more than locations. And that is the point where the book reveals its true nature:
Thomas Riley is a cornucopia of airships, dirigibles, gobsmacking steampunk weapons and gadgets. People wear goggles, corsets, neckerchiefs and high collared shirts.
A lot of these weapons and gadgets have been designed and tested by the two main characters of the story who are older than I expected. Weapon designer Thomas Riley is 29 years old and his assistant Cynthia Bassett counts 24 years. I appreciated it. I would have liked to get more information about them. Especially when they have been confronted with the destructive effects of the weapons ( which they invented) in reality. Beside this Thomas and Cynthia are confident and able to adjust in nearly no time to changing situations. And I think I can tell you that they are more than colleagues but no twosome. Don't worry you will find love in the book and more .....
Anyway I hope there will be more books with Thomas and Cynthia because every new book opens the opportunity to develop the characters and to let the readers get more inside their heads.

That lead me finally to the story which is in the end a quest. A quest which leads from Thomas' laboratory via battle grounds on earth and in the air to the heart of the enemy territories. Not to forget the trip to the Seychelles... There is a conclusion which leaves enough open questions for a sequel. At the beginning I mentioned the 277 pages. From my point of view there are some things which have deserved to be explained a bit more in detail. I'm sure Nick Valentino is aware of it and he express it by using Thomas and let him say in one scene: “I have a vague idea. I truly wish I could tell you, but we don’t have time to find out for sure”
That is also one more reason why I would like to read a sequel.
The prose fits perfectly to the story and I found it was not difficult to read and understand.

Thomas Riley is just the right book for people who would like to enter the world of steampunk books and of course for people who can't get enough of steampunk weapons and gadgets.

I think I forgot something. ediFanoB writes always something special at the end of his reviews. Was it chitchat, advertising or self-praise? Mmmmmh ..... Got it! Perdition or Encomium.

Thomas Riley is a fast paced steampunk adventure in well devised steampunk world including a splash of alchemy science with developable characters. If you freeze open-mouthed when you are offered tons of steampunk weapons and gadgets and air-ships then you should give Thomas Riley a try.

Anyway I recommend to visit Sir Thomas Riley. Nick Valentino keeps his site up to date.

And now I have to go an airship is waiting for me ......


Harry Markov said...

Sounds like a fantastic read. I am quite interested. I like the cover art as it reminds me of a vintage photograph.

ediFanoB said...

I enjoyed it a lot. Especially the boy in me has been fascinated by all the steampunk weapons and gadgets and bowled over again and again.
As I wrote it is an all age read.
I agree with you concerning the cover art.

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