Jack Cloudie (The Jackelian series book 5) by Stephen Hunt (book review).

It’s a great honour to fight for your country, especially to be a Jack Cloudie, a sailor in the heavens in the amazing floating warships that defend the said country of Jackals from attack but also go on the offensive.


‘Jack Cloudie is book number 5 in Stephen Hunt’s ‘The Jackelian series’ and sends us on a journey with two protagonists born in different countries. Jack Keats and Omar are in a similar pickle. Pickpocket and homeless, Jack Keats has been impressed to the service of the country which is better than kicking his heels at the end of a rope. He’s been caught trying to break into Middlesteel Bank and his particular skills with the transaction engines are wanted on-board a top-heavy out of commission death-trap of an airship with the Aerostatical Navy. The familiar character of Commodore Black returns from previous books to give an unexpected job to Jack which is unlikely to increase his life expectancy.

Slave and career layabout Omar ibn Barir is finally given his family name and then has everything brutally swept away as another faction takes violent action. His pitiful existence is saved as he is put in the service of an emperor but he’s lost the love of his life. What could be worse than that? Wait and see.

Despite being on opposite sides of the war between the Kingdom of Jackals and the Empire of Cassaberia, the two have a lot in common and this is a tale of daring-do with a side order of weird, less about difference than a common theme to those who don’t fit into the norm.

This is pure adventure with the characters mostly fulfilling our expectations of them being constructs of elements we have seen before. Jack is consciously a combination of honourable Oliver Twist stirred with the Artful Dodger. There’s a hint of nobility seasoned with healthy self-interest. Omar is the genie and Aladdin with nine lives and has a hint of self-awareness by the end of the novel. The lovable rascal has most of his assumptions severely shaken by his adventures. It would be interesting if this less-shallow character became a protagonist in a future novel.

Of course not a whit of this even matters as the main thing here is a huge explosion of epic adventures with a well-created world that is so much more exciting and deadly than our own. We are probably not seeking profound truth in these pages but maybe some escapes like mist anyway. As readers, we choose to a great extent what we get from a book and this one delivers in page turning terms and I enjoyed the flow of the story and I wonder if there is more life in the two leads. I’d like to see where they might travel next, by air or camel.

Sue Davies

September 2014

(pub: TOR/Forge. 410 page hardback. Price: $27.99 (US), $31.99 (CAN). ISBN: 978-0-7653-3320-9)

check out websites: www.tor-forge.com and http://stephenhunt.net/

Buy in USA . . . http://www.amazon.com/Jack-Cloudie-Jackelian-World-Stephen/dp/0765333201/

Buy in UK . . . http://www.amazon.co.uk/Jack-Cloudie-Jackelian-Stephen-Hunt/dp/0007289677


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