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Summary

"Narrator Kate Reading's steady voice powers this exciting airship adventure...Reading also captures everyday life amid nations constantly at war, adrenaline-filled skirmishes and battles, and mind-numbing bureaucracy." — AudioFile Magazine

Robyn Bennis' The Guns Above is an adventurous military fantasy debut about a nation's first female airship captain.

They say it's not the fall that kills you.

For Josette Dupre, the Corps' first female airship captain, it might just be a bullet in the back.

On top of patrolling the front lines, she must also contend with a crew who doubts her expertise, a new airship that is an untested deathtrap, and the foppish aristocrat Lord Bernat, a gambler and shameless flirt with the military know-how of a thimble. Bernat's own secret assignment is to catalog her every moment of weakness and indecision.

So when the enemy makes an unprecedented move that could turn the tide of the war, can Josette deal with Bernat, rally her crew, and survive long enough to prove herself?

©2017 Robyn Bennis (P)2017 Macmillan Audio

Critic reviews

"Full of sass and terrific characters. Great storytelling. Loved it." (Patricia Briggs)
"The audiobook was [a] great listen because of the superb narration. As always, Kate Reading nailed the performance, her voice being the perfect match for Josette's poise and strength." ( The BiblioSanctum)

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • a
  • 19-09-17

Well written and narrated

Any additional comments?

This was fantastic! A witty musket/steam punk book with a determined and smart heroine and a number of other 3 dimensional characters (I love the ensign). The dialog here is superb and the author has a gift for humour even in the midst of truly gruesome and horrific events.

This is not a book which elides the horrors of war but it does manage to find humanity and moments of grace even amongst the worst of it.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Joki
  • 17-10-18

Very Enjoyable

With The Gun Above, author Bennis takes the gravitas of Master and Commander naval warfare and gives it a steampunk spin. Those worried that the fantastical will overwhelm the story can be reassured that the plot is tight and with few 'magical' elements at all. In fact, this felt like a Sharpe's Rifles type of story rather than a science fiction steampunk. But while the book doesn't shy from the consequences of war, it really is all about the fighting. There's very little character development and I had a hard time feeling anything for our two main leads. I am reminded of a Naomi Novik Temeraire novel - substituting dragons for dirigibles.

Story: Josette Dupris has fought hard yet it is only through circumstances of war that she is given command of a new prototype ship - one that no one expects to survive a battle. To ensure that she doesn't retain the captaincy long, her superior officer places his diletante and bored nephew on her ship as a spy - to spin doctor her actions and discredit her. What should have been great for the officer - hopefully and literally killing two birds with one stone - has the opposite effect. Josette proves herself time and again and his dissolute nephew is about to grow a backbone.

Most books of this type can be quite wordy and epic in scope - and I often wish for less rather than more (McClellan's Powder Mage series comes to mind). The Guns Above feels like McClellan Lite - we're put directly into the actions and then it is non-stop battles after that. Bennis doesn't sugarcoat the characters and each has their own distinct personality issues - Josette lacking communication and social skills/Bernat being a spoiled, foppish dissolute of an aristocrat. Of course, the two come from very different worlds and will help each other rise above themselves.

Those expecting a romance need not worry - there is none in this book. The emphasis is on battles - and there are a lot. Bennis takes special care with each, describing in detail the deaths and consequence of Napoleonic-era type of 'sea' battles. Honestly, I found it a bit much but also appreciated that due care and consideration was given to all the technical aspects - from how the ships were constructed/weaknesses to the weapons and how they had to be fired. The fantastical made perfect sense with the historical and blended seamlessly.

If there is one off note, it would be that both Josette and Bennis spend most of the book in a 'bromance' (yes, she's female) and trading quips. They are good zingers and very witty - droll humor at each other's expense. But I'd rather have had character development and observations rather than endless amounts of battles interspersed with throwaway bon mots. I enjoy intelligent characters as much as the next person but it felt a bit overwritten and underwritten at the same time because the quips formed the basis of the main characters' working relationship. I expect that will change with future novels, though.

In all, an enjoyable and mature naval warfare novel with a steampunk twist. I think Naomi Novick fans will enjoy the series but McClellan and O'Brien may want a bit more depth. The Guns Above is a fairly quick read and smoothly written. Reviewed from an advance reader copy provided by the publisher

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Lord Nightshade
  • 09-02-18

like drinking diet coke when you expected regular

it had a great premise and who can't get behind period steampunk. this book is filled with airship battles and gunfights and I really enjoyed those. Unfortunately, that's all this book has going for it. what really sticks out is the lack of character development. the most well developed character in the book was the MILF loving aristocrat that had a money problem, and he wasn't even the MC the only thing she has going for her is that she's a woman in the army and was poor growing up. there is no real emotional connection to any of the notable characters and if the MC had died mid way through, I don't think I would have been upset or felt any sense of loss.
If you're looking for realistic airship combat scenes and enough story to connect them together then this is a great book.
if you're looking for a compelling story driven by action scenes and rich dialogue between diverse and endearing characters fighting not only for their nation but for equality, then I would suggest giving this book a pass until it's on sale.
the only thing that got me through was the exceptional narrator!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • HanShotFirst
  • 11-12-17

Want to know how an airship works?

Droll and very, very believable as far as characters and story are concerned. Excellent narration from Kate Reading as usual. If you want to know how to captain an airship, this is your book. If engineering and mechanics don't appeal, I would skip it.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • James
  • 28-09-17

A good tale well told. A very enjoyable read

Strong characters that you grow to love. Well developed story and world with characters that grow with the world around them. Quick and dry wit that at times made me laugh out loud.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Thomas & Ruthann Miller
  • 14-01-19

terrific

this book is very engrossing, the way every character's nuance is described makes everything so vivid. the story of war and battle is exciting and the characters relatabe and loveable.

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Cold Reader
  • 28-12-18

Mixed feelings

It was a well written with great dialog and descriptive battle scenes. However, the book was mostly battle scenes and I mentally tuned out. A little more character development and I would have given higher ratings. Great performance by Kate Reading!

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  • Michael O'Neal
  • 15-11-18

Fantastic

If you love high-flying adventure and witty banter, this title is not to be missed. Bennis renders her fictional world and characters in vivid detail, and they jump off the page. The banter between the sassy airship captain and the aristocratic fop sent to spy on her is first rate, and their frenemy-ish relationship was the high point of the book. Reading's narration perfectly captures both the action and the dry wit. Loved it all from start to finish!

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Bunty
  • 28-10-18

GOOD START TO A NEW SERIES, WELL WRITTEN AND PERFORMED.

Enjoyable. I find the aristocrat charming and an intelligent character. The main character is a prickly pear full of zest and determined to help the people no matter what! There is more to understand about her and that will take a few more books to reveal her true nature. Excellent dialogue and Kate Reading, of course, performed marvellously for all the different characters. An excellent start and I am looking forward to the next books which I have already downloaded.

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  • skyhawk63
  • 15-10-18

Refreshing & Well Written

A great listen, with an enticing cast of characters. Every time I want to escape from the same old worn story lines I pop in my headphones for a ride on Mistral.