(The Gunpowder Chronicles #1)
Release: November 18, 2014
In 1842, the gunpowder might of China’s Qing Dynasty fell to Britain’s steam engines. Furious, the Emperor ordered the death of his engineers—and killed China’s best chance of fighting back…Review:
Since her father’s execution eight years ago, Jin Soling kept her family from falling into poverty. But her meager savings are running out, leaving her with no choice but to sell the last of her father’s possessions—her last memento of him.
Only, while attempting to find a buyer, Soling is caught and brought before the Crown Prince. Unlike his father, the Emperor, the Prince knows that the only chance of expelling the English invaders is to once again unite China’s cleverest minds to create fantastic weapons. He also realizes that Soling is the one person who could convince her father’s former allies—many who have turned rebel—to once again work for the Empire. He promises to restore her family name if she’ll help him in his cause.
But after the betrayal of her family all those years ago, Soling is unsure if she can trust anyone in the Forbidden City—even if her heart is longing to believe in the engineer with a hidden past who was once meant to be her husband…
The steampunk elements in this story are not complicated and tend to naturally evolve from the setting. The author, Jeannie Lin, has definitely done her research which makes the steampunk seem natural in this Chinese setting. The book not being so steampunk heavy actually makes it a good starting place for someone who is looking to get into this genre. There are still plenty of steampunk elements like ships fueled by gunpowder, needle guns, and razor-tipped fans.
I'm going to admit that I am a bit conflicted on this one. I loved that this book was a steampunk novel set in China. I REALLY loved that! It was something fresh and exciting in a genre that can get repetitive. The balance between the technology and the historical parts fit together well and was totally believable. The opium side plot is fascinating and I really want to know how that figures into the rest of the series.
The characters were believable and complex and just really well done. I really enjoyed the main character, Jin Soling, and the growth she underwent during this book. But I do think she is a bit naive which is all due to her circumstances. My second favorite character was Lady Su! I loved her and I hope we'll see more of her in the next book
The thing that kept me from enjoying this book more was the romance. I don't like it and it doesn't seem believable to me. It might be because the love interest rubs me the wrong way and I don't trust him. I will hold off on making any judgements until I read the next books in the series.
Overall, I enjoyed the story immensely and I look forward to seeing what happens next!
I received an eARC of this book from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.