The Court of the Air
The Land of Jackals is a warped echo of Britain during the early 19th century, and at its beating heart is the city of Middlesteel. This is home to young Molly Templar, an orphan at the Sun Gate Workhouse, and Oliver Brooks, another orphan who lives with his mysterious merchant uncle. There is something about both of them that has assassins (and just about everybody else) panting for their blood—but what is it? When Oliver comes home to find his uncle and servant both equally dead and everybody in the orphanage is found butchered, it is time for Oliver and Molly to go on the run.
To date, this has to be the best book of 2007 as far as I am concerned. Think Joan Aiken for grown-ups, with echoes of Susanna Clarke and various other talented crossover writers and you are there. Of course, this is not a historical novel but a fantasy, and if this is not your bag then you won’t necessarily like it. It is true that there are no dragons in here, but you will find plenty of dungeons and an aerial navy, a kingdom ruled by oddly appealing sentient machines, an alternative court floating high above the city, ancient ruins, forgotten gods and more adventures than you can imagine. For once, somebody has actually managed to fill a big book with a big story, and if Mr Hunt isn’t penning the sequel I am going to be very disappointed… it is that good. It might just be the book for you if you are thinking of branching out from reading mainly historical fiction, and wondering what else is out there. Not a lot of this calibre… hugely enjoyable.