Author: Chris Wooding
Publisher: Be sure to check out my review of Retribution Falls, the first book in this series, to see if it's for you.
There's not too much to say about The Black Lung Captain that I haven't already said about Retribution Falls. The main difference between the two novels seems to be that The Black Lung Captain is much deeper and more of a character driven novel than Retribution Falls. This doesn't mean that there's less action, or that there's less humor. All it really means is that Wooding took advantage of the fact that he's got characters that are flawed, and gave them a chance to deal with their problems.
The humor and action are still there in abundance, and the character of Darian Frey is really starting to shine through (though he's slowly moving from loveable rogue to good-hearted hero), and I also though that it was smart on Wooding's part to focus on Crake a bit more in this book, since he's such an interesting character, and the magic that is Daemonism is very interesting as well.
This book had a huge battle at the end, much like the first one, which brings up a point of contention that I had. The book paralleled the plot of the first book, which is cool, but sometimes it did it just a little too well. Yes, there were definite differences, but I could reliably predict what was about to happen at the end of a lot of chapters simply by thinking back to what happened at this point in the first book, and it was sometimes eerily close (Trinica showing up when she does was very easy to predict this time around).
A second problem that I've noticed in this book is that the characters feel too invincible. I don't know if I've just read too much George R.R. Martin or what, but it seems like it was incredibly obvious that the main characters weren't in any real danger. I think this really hit a breaking point early on in the novel, when almost every other un-named character had quickly bitten the dust in a firefight with what I can only imagine as bigfoots, but all of Frey's crew were just fine. I'm willing to forgive this somewhat, as the books are obviously action-oriented adventure books and we can't have the main characters in what's essentially a group "buddy flick" dying all over the place. Still, it's of note that those who enjoy their fantasy and science fiction with a great dose of realism will not find it here. This is an adventure book, and the good guys (at least for the first couple of volumes) live to fight another day.
With these being my only real complaints (and somewhat weak complaints since this is the nature of books of this style and the book was still immensely enjoyable and had some twists and turns that I couldn't predict), I give The Black Lung Captain 9/10. It's as enjoyable as Retribution Falls in most parts, and breaks new ground in character depth. It also sets up some very interesting things that will probably start to happen in the third book, The Iron Jackyl.
- The deepening of the characters from the first book
- Harkins and the cat. It was epic
- The love story. It was, in my opinion, very well done.
- The somewhat easily predictable nature of the sequel
- The invincible crew of the Ketty Jay
- Pinn ex machina