Stephen Hunt – The Kingdom Beyond The Waves

The Kingdom Beyond The Waves (2008) is the second book of the Jackelian series by Stephen Hunt. The books contain standalone plots while there are certain recurring characters that play a minor or greater role in the story. The Jackelian series clearly falls in the steampunk genre. The first book, The Court Of The Air, had a large dose of fantasy added to it. In the second book the fantasy element is almost absent and it the science fiction element is dominant.

Like the first book the plot is divided between two main storylines with the plot mainly being told from two viewpoints while side characters get plenty of time as well. A difference with the first book was that the side characters got less attention overall.  Perhaps this is because Hunt is working with a smaller cast and a more constrained setting. Either way, on this part it doesn’t have the same strength. The plots themselves remain somewhat traditional with plenty of twists.

At a certain point I did notice that Hunt used a similar structure for the plot development as he did for the first book. Of course the content and the story are very different. It are certain generic elements that popped up around the same time. Although it is not a problem an author should watch out for getting formulaic in his plots.

More than in the first novel Hunt used the notion of cliffhangers by switching storylines as much as possible. On certain moments this felt a little annoying because I was just getting into the action before it was suddenly broken off.

Hunt shows he has created a complex world with a lot of weird elements and he keeps extending it. In a way I can compare it to the steampunk Apt-series by Adrian Tchaikovsky which to me just doesn’t work as well although on certain levels there are similarities. Stephun Hunt just does it the right way. A greater eye for details and characterization while keeping the level of technology sufficiently constrained.

The Kingdom Beyond The Waves is a good sequel to The Court Of The Air. Overall it is not as strong, but the difference is not that great. The different approach, with more science fiction and little fantasy, did not change the feeling of the story. Another recommendation.

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