The Black Lung Captain by Chris Wooding — book review

The Black Lung Captain by Chris Wooding. Gollancz ‘7.99

Reviewed By Carl Barker

I’m always a little wary of jumping into a series without having read the previous instalments, knowing full well that to do so may leave me somewhat adrift in vast portions of the subsequent narrative. However, any concerns over my lack of background knowledge were quickly forgotten as I waded into The Black Lung Captain. Wooding is an adept storyteller and skilfully works both the character arcs of all his main protagonists as well as various elements of back-story from the previous book, Retribution Falls, into his tale.

Dashing and charismatic Darian Frey, Captain of the airship Ketty Jay, leads his ragtag and emotionally dysfunctional crew through an escalating series of escapades and high adventure involving air-pirates, daemonism, unstoppable golems and an army of ravening ghouls. In lesser hands, this might so easily have descended into clich’d melodrama, but Wooding’s greatest strength lies in the depth of his characterisation.

Throughout The Black Lung Captain time is taken to explore each of the Ketty Jay’s crew (even the ship’s cat!) and to steadily develop their individual back stories and various idiosyncrasies whilst rarely sacrificing the pace of the narrative. Add to this a spattering of black humour, plus a hefty chunk of sarcastic banter between the main characters, and you have the formula for an old-fashioned adventure tale of the highest order. Whilst hungrily awaiting the next instalment in this series, I’ll definitely be seeking out Retribution Falls to add to my bookshelf. Highly recommended.   

The Black Lung Captain by Chris Wooding. Gollancz ‘7.99

Reviewed By Carl Barker

I’m always a little wary of jumping into a series without having read the previous instalments, knowing full well that to do so may leave me somewhat adrift in vast portions of the subsequent narrative. However, any concerns over my lack of background knowledge were quickly forgotten as I waded into The Black Lung Captain. Wooding is an adept storyteller and skilfully works both the character arcs of all his main protagonists as well as various elements of back-story from the previous book, Retribution Falls, into his tale.

Dashing and charismatic Darian Frey, Captain of the airship Ketty Jay, leads his ragtag and emotionally dysfunctional crew through an escalating series of escapades and high adventure involving air-pirates, daemonism, unstoppable golems and an army of ravening ghouls. In lesser hands, this might so easily have descended into clich’d melodrama, but Wooding’s greatest strength lies in the depth of his characterisation.

Throughout The Black Lung Captain time is taken to explore each of the Ketty Jay’s crew (even the ship’s cat!) and to steadily develop their individual back stories and various idiosyncrasies whilst rarely sacrificing the pace of the narrative. Add to this a spattering of black humour, plus a hefty chunk of sarcastic banter between the main characters, and you have the formula for an old-fashioned adventure tale of the highest order. Whilst hungrily awaiting the next instalment in this series, I’ll definitely be seeking out Retribution Falls to add to my bookshelf. Highly recommended.