“Steel and Song” was published in 2014 and was written by Ani Bolton (http://www.anibolton.com). This is her second novel and the first in “The Aileron Chronicles” series. The eBook is available on Amazon.
I obtained this novel for free in advance through https://www.netgalley.com for review. This story is a Young Adult / Fantasy / Alternate History / Steampunk tale told in the third person. Due to Mature Language, Mature Situations and Violence, I categorize the book as ‘R’. The novel is set in Russia, but in a different Russia than we know. In this story the Cossacks, rulers of Russia, are at war with the Franks. The primary characters are Tova Vanaskya and Piers Nikolayevich.
Tova is a young peasant girl living in rural Russia. She, as many of her fellow gytrash, have magical skills. In Tova’s case she is an Air Witch with an ability to control the wind. Because of her young age and ability to use her power to navigate a coal barge, she has escaped being drafted into the Cossack’s army. Her luck finally runs out though and she is torn from her mother and younger sister as a conscript.
Piers is a Cossack and is the last young male of the House of Rus, one of the seven Houses. He commands an aileron, a military air ship, and repeatedly throws his ship into battle. He has tallied many kills, but he is never satisfied with his successes, fighting internal demons on every flight. He lost his Air Witch on his last mission and goes looking for a replacement. By the time he makes his way to the replacement depot, all that is left is Tova, which he takes as better than nothing.
Tova displays high skills for someone untrained flying the Aileron. She makes friends with other of the conscripts and finds that there are some ready to revolt against the Cossack’s oppression. She makes friends with the other Aileron crew members, and impresses them and Piers with her ability. There is also a growing attraction between Tova and Piers but as a Cossack, his social position is far above hers.
I enjoyed the five hours I spent reading this novel. There is a touch of romance along with the action Tova and Piers face against the Franks. I thought the characters were well developed, and I liked the story. Over all I give this novel a 5 out of 5.
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