A guest review by Kassa
The truth is that those who make a difference usually get martyred. What good are you dead?
Ezra Kneebone is most at home in the skies, piloting his airship with his best friend Jazz, even if it doesn’t quite pay the bills or warm Ezra’s empty bed. Those same skies are also the territory of a man known as Icarus who uses his metal wings to steal from the rich and feed the poor. Icarus and Ezra could be soul mates but for one thing: Icarus has a bounty on his head, and Ezra is desperate for money.
Against the wishes of Jazz and her partner, the formidable Lady Bart, Ezra is determined to get his man… in more ways than one. But when Icarus saves Ezra’s life, Ezra realizes he would be betraying a hero—and his heart—if he turned Icarus in. Unfortunately, the bounty is tempting more than one hunter, and Ezra will find that loving a fugitive may mean becoming one too.
I read Wings of Equity in one sitting, it’s that much fun. WOE reminds me of the great Joss Whedon short lived series, Firefly, but it is not fan fiction in any way. I’m sorry to bring up the dreaded FF in a review but I couldn’t help but make the connection. For those that love the tv series and want something along those lines but NOT fan fiction, WOE should totally satisfy. It offers the same sense of adventure, action, danger, wry humor, and delight that makes up a great story with interesting characters and a visually stunning setting. Kennedy has written a great steam punk story that sucks you in and simply entertains on all levels.
Ezra Kneebone is struggling to get his fledging business of the ground. He’s got a great prototype of a smaller, faster personal flying ship but he can’t quite drum up the cash needed to produce more. He doesn’t want to take a loan from his chief mechanic’s rich girlfriend so instead Ezra decides he’s going to cash in on the reward from capturing Icarus. Icarus is a thorn in the government’s side as a pseudo Robin Hood. He steals from the trains and always manages to get away due to a clever set of mechanical wings. Although Ezra’s pilot, mechanic, and sole friend Jazz is against the idea, Ezra sets out to capture Icarus. Along the way, Ezra finds himself captured in return.
The plot is filled with action, adventure, fire fights, captures, rescues, escapes, crashes, true love, miracles! Well the last one is a bit iffy but Ezra finding true love could be considered a miracle. A majority of the twists and turns the plot takes may be predictable, but the strongly plot driven story is so well written and so much fun to read I can’t imagine anyone really minding. If anything some of the actions are the obvious ones, even when presented with a wry humor but this is being rather picky and instead focus on the quick action and punchy dialogue. The fight for Icarus brings in a large cast of memorable and truly extraordinary characters and here Kennedy does a truly fabulous job in bringing them all to life.
There is Ezra, the main narrator although the third person point of view is shown through several people. Ezra is desperately yearning for a connection. He’s almost a hopeless romantic but he’s given up most hope of ever finding someone to share a life. He’s witty, sarcastic, funny, loyal, and beyond stubborn. He’s in some ways a classic male character with a do it yourself attitude and too much pride. His actions and comments are often hilarious even though you sometimes want to shake some sense into him. Here the friendship with his mechanic, pilot, and best friend Jazz offers a great contrast. Jazz is an inspired female character in a sea of weak females offered in this genre. Jazz is raw, biting, totally feminist, and absolutely delightful. Though these types of females tend to be militaristic and unattractive, Jazz is written with such subtly and skill that she becomes essential and just as interesting to read as Ezra. She’s not a stereotype and her banter with Ezra is both touching and reminiscent of bickering siblings.
Jazz’s girlfriend, Lady Bart, offers a more feminine and softer female presence but she’s equally delightful. Although featuring a lesbian relationship within an m/m romance is a chance, it’s one that pay offs entirely. There is no onscreen sex so don’t worry. The only sexing is hot and heavy between Ezra and Icarus but the relationship between Lady Bart and Jazz enhances the story in many ways. Not only is Bart instrumental in the action and plot but their caring give and take help shape Ezra and his thoughts on relationships. The great characterization afforded these women creates a wonderful and memorable dynamic. If there is any stumble it is in the characterization of Icarus.
Although he is a main driving force of the plot and action, Icarus himself remains a mystery. His motivations are told through stories and interactions with other people and the lack of any viewpoint from his perspective is obvious and disappointing. While his reasons and his character are slowly uncovered over the course of the book, his attraction to Ezra and ultimately how and why they fall in love feels almost one sided from Ezra’s perspective. We see why Ezra makes his decisions, how he changes, evolves, and falls in love. We see how Ezra changes his life and becomes a different person, perhaps not better but different. The converse to that is that Icarus clearly changes and evolves as well but we only see the affects filtered through the views of other people. I’d have really liked to know more about the man and see his actions and choices from his perspective.
Yet for the few missteps, in my opinion, the world building and great writing simply shine. The fascinating world of steam punk comes alive with numerous details that culminate in an intricately crafted setting. Steam punk is a great genre when done right and here the author has delivered a wonderful addition. From the bleak, dusty hills of barren outposts to the gadgets, buttons, bobs, and bits which create everything from the small to large pieces, the story never forgets the setting first and foremost. This is truly a visual feast for those that love complex world building but written in such a way as you never feel bogged down in details. The world building is subtle but constant and combined with great characters; this is a fully entertaining, well written romp.
If you’re a fan of steam punk, definitely get this offering. You absolutely won’t be disappointed. If you’re new to the genre, WOE is a great introduction. It has all the classic elements but mixed with romance, action, hot sex, and entertaining banter. I hesitate to say Sean Kennedy can do no wrong but so far that’s kind of how I’m feeling. Get this today!