Author: Jeannie Lin
This is a new series by Jeannie Lin. I’ve read her Pingkang Li mysteries and enjoyed it. I like steampunk and the thought of it being centered in China piqued my interest. Gunpowder Alchemy is a riveting and beautifully written steampunk novel.
In this steampunk world the balance between the technology and the historical is well done. The technology is not overwhelming, but there is enough to substantiate the tech and give foundation to the mythology. I enjoyed the logic and the creations that are present. The contrast between the grime of the technology and the underworld with the beauty of the region along with the life of the aristocracy was music to my imagination. Ms. Lin has this way of enriching the background noise of a story. I love how she is able to not only give a setting, but she expertly places you there in sight, smell, sound and feel. The world she creates I easily envision in my own imagination. The characters play across my inner eyes and she does so without weighing down the narrative. I truly enjoy her voice.
Unlike Ms. Lin’s other series, Gunpowder Alchemy is told solely from Soling’s point of view. Though we do not have much in common, I found myself relating to her. I respected the strength of her character, and her courage and determination even in the face of such despair and humiliating circumstances. It was hard not become ingrained her plight. By only having Soling’s eyes, the different paths before her are so much more daunting – not knowing who to trust. It was an engrossing read, especially the way Ms. Lin can pace her novels. They remind me of a meandering creek, moments that speed up then slow down, twists and turns, but you are always heading towards the end and you never know what you will find there.
Gunpowder Alchemy is a wonderful start to a fresh and fascinating new steampunk series. I eagerly look forward to finding out what happens to Soling and Chang-wei – do they end up together as they were originally promised as children? What about the threat of the rebels – surely they haven’t given up the war? Will they be able to force the English out? I can’t wait to find out more in the next novel.
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…
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…
Release Date: November 18, 2014
Series: The Gunpowder Chronicles #1
Book Source: Publisher/NetGalley
Gunpowder Alchemy (Gunpowder Chronicles #1)