The Court of the Air

The Court of the Air

3.9 10
by Stephen Hunt

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When streetwise Molly Templar witnesses a brutal murder at the brothel she has recently been apprenticed to, her first instinct is to run back to the poorhouse where she grew up. But there she finds her fellow orphans butchered, and it slowly dawns on her that she was the real target of the attack. For Molly is a special little girl, and she carries a secret that


When streetwise Molly Templar witnesses a brutal murder at the brothel she has recently been apprenticed to, her first instinct is to run back to the poorhouse where she grew up. But there she finds her fellow orphans butchered, and it slowly dawns on her that she was the real target of the attack. For Molly is a special little girl, and she carries a secret that marks her out for destruction by enemies of the state.

Oliver Brooks has led a sheltered existence in the backwater home of his merchant uncle. But when he is framed for his only relative's murder he is forced to flee for his life, accompanied by an agent of the mysterious Court of the Air. Chased across the country, Oliver finds himself in the company of thieves, outlaws and spies, and gradually learns more about the secret that has blighted his life.

Soon Molly and Oliver will find themselves battling a grave threat to civilization, an ancient power thought to have been quelled millennia ago. Their enemies are ruthless and myriad, but the two orphans are also aided by indomitable friends in this endlessly inventive tale full of drama, intrigue, and adventure.

The Court of the Air is a rollicking adventure set in a fantastical Dickensian clockwork universe that will appeal to fans of Susanna Clarke and Philip Pullman.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

“Hunt has packed the story full of intriguing gimmicks…the ‘steammen' and their refreshingly tender machine culture are affecting and original.” —Publishers Weekly

“A curious part-future blend of aerostats, mechanical computers, psychic powers, self-willed steam-power robots, Elder gods, talking superweapons and more…Harry Potter mugs H.P. Lovecraft and L. Ron Hubbard explains it all.” —Kirkus Reviews

“An ultra supersonic speed Dickens fantasy thriller…put on your seatbelts for a frenetic cat and mouse encounter that includes some nasty paranormal adversaries as this is an exciting tale of two orphans trying to save the world from those who want Armageddon now.” —SFRevu

Publishers Weekly

Two teenage orphans in an anemic fantasy analogue of Victorian London are baffled to find themselves on the run in this overeager effort from British author and blogger Hunt (For the Crown and the Dragon). Molly, pursued by determined assassins with mysterious masters, hides underground, while Oliver, framed for his uncle's death, takes to the air to escape the fey-hunting Special Guard. They also draw the attention of the Court of the Air, a shadowy black-ops organization, and "communityist" revolutionaries seeking to resurrect ancient subterranean gods. An entire steampunk menagerie is pressed into lackluster service, but the pace leaves no time to focus on any single element. Only the "steammen" and their refreshingly tender machine culture are affecting and original. The historical and geographical parallels are overly frequent and mostly trite. Hunt has packed the story full of intriguing gimmicks, but the end result is more overload than wonder. (June)

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Kirkus Reviews
Doorstopper steampunk fantasy from British newcomer Hunt. Hunt's world is a curious past-future blend of aerostats, mechanical computers, psychic powers, self-willed steam-powered robots, Elder gods, talking superweapons and more. When orphan Molly Templar, sold from the local workhouse to a high-class bordello, starts work, her first client turns out to be an assassin. Molly escapes with the help of a steamman (she can fix damaged machines in a trice) and eventually learns from King Steam that she has a rare blood type-and that every person that shared it has been murdered. Elsewhere, another seemingly ordinary orphan, Oliver Brooks, lived four years inside the otherworldly "feymist"; since even brief exposure to feymist causes terrifying psychic powers to develop, the authorities are deeply suspicious of him. (Those less fortunate, whose powers develop, are cruelly enslaved or permanently consigned to dungeons.) Oliver returns home to find his uncle's household massacred, with disreputable spook Harry Stave the sole survivor. Together Harry and Oliver flee for their lives. After more than half a book's worth of adventures, the protagonists-youthful ciphers whose function is limited to forwarding the plot and acquiring the superpowers necessary to its culmination-finally meet, having discovered that they're the good guys in a struggle of prodigious and dystopian import. Watching everything are observers from the Court of the Air, a cadre of executioners dedicated to curbing powerful ambitions and government excess-or so they claim. Almost too inventive-it's just one jaw-dropping page after another-with hypercomplicated, barely intelligible plotting set forth in a breathless style: HarryPotter mugs H.P. Lovecraft, and L. Ron Hubbard explains it all. Agent: John Jarrold/John Jarrold Literary Agency

Product Details

Tom Doherty Associates
Publication date:
Jackelian World Series , #1
Edition description:
First Edition
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
4.20(w) x 6.76(h) x 1.26(d)

Meet the Author

Stephen Hunt is currently on the management, technical, and editorial boards for, the science fiction and fantasy web site which is currently Google PageRanked™ as the Internet's second most popular science fiction site. The Court of the Air is his second novel. He resides in London.

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The Court of the Air 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 10 reviews.
bookworm1228 More than 1 year ago
I started this book but had to drop it within about 50 pages. I give the author credit for trying to be exciting, but there's a point where a plot twist every couple of pages just gets confusing and overwhelming. There are quite frankly too many cities, too many worlds, and they are all moving too quickly to get to know any of them or any of the characters. Since I'm a big fan of character growth and development, this just wasn't worth finishing for me. For those who want something a little more plot dense and interesting, I'd definitely recommend His Dark Materials over this any day. In fact, I think a lot of the ideas in this book are based off of that series.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Molly Templar is a spit-fire and an indomitable soul, it means little that she has been orphaned into poverty, forced to work under less than pleasant circumstances and is now being supervised by a greedy overseer named Beadle. Only her orphanage was not always such a dour place. For the early part of Molly¿s life the orphanage matron was a kind, selfless woman whose reforms straightened out the disadvantaged system of her charges lives. She was a beacon of hope and Molly is a product of this. Molly can read, she knows her history and is a quick thinker to all things, especially mechanical. Molly Templar is un-humbled by her lowly placement in life, having been taught to raise herself above the shambles and lost souls, making diamonds from the dust she was given. However knowledge does give her haughty pride and all the opinions a well educated street urchin could want. She has been dismissed from every position she has been assigned and really, no one believes she will amount to anything good since she cannot even hold down a job to feed herself. Still, Molly looks only ahead in just a few short months she too will be given the vote and her freedom from forced menial labors. And at first her next contract doesn¿t seem anything less than posh. Only things quickly dissolve from this placement. Molly witnesses a vile murder at her new employ and worse, the target of that killer appears to be her! She runs back to the only safety she has ever known, the orphanage. Only that safety is now a haunting desecration, the halls are empty save for ghosts. Everyone Molly has ever called friend has been murdered here or kidnapped! Worse, there is a killer on the loose and he¿s looking for Molly Templar. ~~~ Oliver Brooks grew up in the country, running errands for his reclusive uncle. He lives a life of ease, save for the constant requirement of his signature on a fey-registry and the suspicious avoidance of all around him. Oliver¿s parents died in a tragic accident, of which he was the only survivor. His parent¿s balloon crashed into a mystical curtain that kills all who enter its folds ¿ kills all, except for Oliver who 6 years after the accident wanders out of the curtain completely unscathed! No community can abide those touched by the fey those infected mutate, attain magical powers and twist into crazed things, go on rampages and must be controlled or locked away for the safety of all. Or even more insidious, they remain completely normal like good-natured Oliver Brooks, no doubt a ticking time-bomb waiting to obliterate his community. So Oliver is forced to sign the registry, watched and interrogated by a cruel fey-magisterial observer, a man bent on seeing the day Oliver finally snaps. Oliver tries to remain positive despite the ostracizing lot of his life and the haunting dreams of the Whisperer which plague him. If those dreams, a sure sign of the fey where known, he¿d be locked up! So when his uncle sends him to meet an old acquaintance of not only his but Oliver¿s parents, Oliver is keen to learn what secret business this man is on. That business turns tragic as this man is nothing he says he is a rouge and a spy and those hunting him have killed Oliver¿s uncle and framed him for the murder! Oliver is forced to flee with this strange emissary of The Court of the Air. Only who really wants Oliver Brooks dead, and why? ~~~ While I enjoyed reading this book, there are so many cheap angles that sometimes I wanted to put it down. Stephen Hunt is a creative and visual writer who I felt often cheapened up his story by adding literal names 'just because a character is blue or nasty doesn¿t mean you name them Mr. Blue or Mr. Nasty!'. He often gives his readers credit and hence, more interest in his story with arcane but fluid references, building complex and creative governmental and religious structures, adding color and mystery into each caste of his society both human and otherwise. The reader is given slight tutorials to follow
MargaretHuntress More than 1 year ago
I absolutely love this book, & it's companions; they're beautifully written & engaging, though I can see how some people might get lost in them.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a very good book, not one you can easily read in small bits tho. The Characters and plot are developed in a very unique way. This author's writing style is different and takes some getting used to but the book is diffidently worth the effort.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
lent More than 1 year ago
This book wasn't as easy for me to get into as I expected. Took awhile to get used to the world, and I wasn't as impressed. I loved the Steam Men and there part, but wasn't as crazy about the rest. I felt it was too surface and didn't really get into the characters although the outline of the characters was very interesting. The story was exciting, but I was able to put it down easy. Not sure if I will go back to the author or keep the book. Fun for readers of sci-fi and fantasy, but not the best ever.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
the cover got my attention, and the synopsis on the back made me interested. the story itself kept me turning each page. i loved it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
harstan More than 1 year ago
Molly Templar is driving orphanage owner Beadle crazy because he wants to make a profit on her before she is freed next year but the teen has been fired four times in four months. Desperate the Beadle apprentices her to a major employer of women, Damson Emma Fairburn owner of Fairburn and Jarndyce brothel. At her new employment location, Molly sees a brutal murder that scares her she races back to the orphanage for safety, but instead finds a mass murder site every orphan and some of the adults are dead. Molly flees again, but knows she has no haven as she was the target in both places because she has information that several people are plotting against the state. --- Oliver Brooks was contented living with his merchant uncle until someone murdered his relative and framed the lad as the killer. Fey special agents try to kill Oliver to insure he cannot defend himself. A Court of the Air agent helps Oliver flee. When he and Molly meet, they team up to battle an ancient evil considered dead since it had not reappeared in a thousand years defeated back then this malevolence now has strong cold-blooded partners. --- THE COURT OF THE AIR places Charles Dickens like orphans in an exciting fantasy thriller. Readers will admire the unsinkable Molly who plans to make something of herself once she is freed of the Beadle Oliver is the naive one as his uncle somewhat pampered him. On the run on the ground and in the air, they make a dynamic duo whose allies would sacrifice either of them in a heartbeat if they did not need him for their cause, preventing the return of nasty ancient gods. This is a fun fast paced frenzy as Molly and Oliver quickly learn to depend on one another as the good guys and the bad guys could not care less about the mean only the end matters. --- Harriet Klausner