The Guns Above (Signal Airship)
by Robyn Bennis
Cover Artist: Tommy Arnold
Review by Bill Lawhorn
Tor Books Hardcover/ eBook ISBN/ITEM#: 9780765388766
Date: 02 May 2017 List Price $25.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK
Heroes rise to the occasion when they are dropped into an extraordinary situation. Josette Dupre survived a crash and led an assault which turned the tide of a battle. Her reward, an airship of her own. She becomes the first Airship Captain in the Garnian forces.
The experimental craft she is given has potential, but like all experiments, it has quirks as well. Captain Dupre must learn her ship and crew while scouting and fighting the Vinzhalia. This should not be a problem. Garnia has always won her wars. How could it be different? Success breeds contempt, which leads to hubris.
Lord Bernat is a relative of many powerful leaders but prefers to gamble, drink, and chase women, not necessarily in that order. His money is low, so he needs to ask for a loan from his uncle. Instead, he is offered a job as a spy on Captain Dupre's airship. He will need to overcome his foppish ways if he wants to succeed. He has some potential but has never been pushed.
This is the first book in a new series. It is also the first novel by author Bennis. As a first book, it will be a tough act to follow. The fast-paced action keeps readers enthralled. The dynamic between Captain Dupre and Lord Bernat is at the heart of the tale. They have an uneasy relationship. Each needs the other in some ways, but they do not trust each other.
Both characters see a lot of development through the story. Captain Dupre learns to lead and accept that she can lead. Lord Bernat must work for the first time in his life, it leads him to become more than the parasite he has been his whole life. The development of characters creates a story worth reading.
The action mostly takes place on Mistral, a fighting scout dirigible. The tech level is flintlock and early rifles with cannon and mortars. Different from sailing ships, dirigibles fly high above the battles and can drop bombs and use canister to sweep a front and blunt an attack. There isn't magic, just low level science and courage.
This novel has award potential. I could also see author Bennis being nominated for the Campbell award for first novel. I look forward to others reading this novel so we can talk about the action. I also look forward to the sequel as Garnian forces continue their struggle against the overwhelming enemy bearing down on them. The chauvinistic society may need to change in order to survive.