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Romulus Buckle & the City of the Founders

Romulus Buckle & the City of the Founders

4.4 5
by Richard Ellis Preston Jr.

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In a postapocalyptic world of endless snow, eighteen-year-old Captain Romulus Buckle and the stalwart crew of the Pneumatic Zeppelin must embark on a perilous mission to rescue their kidnapped leader, Balthazar Crankshaft, from the impenetrable City of the Founders. Steaming over a territory once known as Southern California—before it was devastated in the


In a postapocalyptic world of endless snow, eighteen-year-old Captain Romulus Buckle and the stalwart crew of the Pneumatic Zeppelin must embark on a perilous mission to rescue their kidnapped leader, Balthazar Crankshaft, from the impenetrable City of the Founders. Steaming over a territory once known as Southern California—before it was devastated in the alien war—Buckle navigates his massive airship through skies infested with enemy war zeppelins and ravenous alien beasties in this swashbuckling and high-octane steampunk adventure. Life is desperate in the Snow World, and death is quick. Buckle and his ship’s company must brave poisoned wastelands of Noxious Mustard and do battle with forgewalkers, steampipers, and armored locomotives as they plunge from the skies into the underground prison warrens of the fortress city.

Captain Romulus Buckle must lead the Pneumatic Zeppelin and its crew of ne’er-do-wells on a desperate mission where he must risk everything to save Balthazar and attempt to prevent a catastrophic war that could wipe out all that is left of civilization and the entire human race.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Preston’s steampunk debut manages to turn a half-destroyed world recovering from a brutal Martian invasion into the setting of a weird and rather trite faux-humorous fable. Our dashing hero is “the Magnificent Romulus Buckle,” commander of the steam-powered Pneumatic Zeppelin, for whom no superlative is superlative enough. He leads his motley crew to a daring rescue of his adopted father, clan leader Adm. Balthazar Crankshaft, from the nefarious Founders. Naturally there’s a love triangle populated by chief navigator and first mate Lt. Sabrina Serafim, “a perfectly slender version of a full-grown wood nymph” whose face has “a tendency towards Asian angles,” and half-Martian chief engineer Max, the closest thing to a nonwhite character in this alternate California. Together, they face numerous obstacles (raptorlike tanglers, iron-suited forgewalkers, wastelands of noxious gas) as they storm the “impenetrable” City of the Founders. Despite some imaginative and cinematic world-building, this attempt at a rip-roaring, swashbuckling adventure crumbles into hyperbolic cliché. (July)
Library Journal
Eighteen-year-old Romulus Buckle, a pilot from the Crankshaft Clan, takes center stage as the larger-than-life captain of the Pneumatic Zeppelin in this postapocalyptic steampunk romp through a future California devastated by an event known as “The Storming.” Everyone in this new Snow World is exaggerated and almost caricature-like in their look which are revealed as Buckle leads his crew on a mission to rescue his adopted father and clan leader, Admiral Balthazar Crankshaft, from a peaceful mission gone awry in the mysterious City of the Founders. There are allusions to an alien invasion in the form of mysterious obelis, from a peaceful mission gone awry in the mysterious City of the Founders. There are allusions to an alien invasion in the form of mysterious obelisks scattered across the landscape; one of Buckle’s crew is half-Martian and viewed with distrust. Along the way, Buckle survives potentially deadly encounters with strange wildlife and gravity with ease and manages to convince a rival clan, the Alchemists, to aid in the rescue of the admiral since their leader was also taken captive. The combined forces sneak into the City of the Founders from the ground and the sky, but making it out again is questionable.

Verdict In this series launch, Preston brings a new dynamic to steampunk by combining it more with postapocalyptic, instead of historical, details, but the repetitive descriptions of the characters and plot bring to mind the overwrought nature of early adventure novels, in which the overall tale was serialized and information needed to be repeated for new readers. Libraries where Kevin J. Anderson and Neil Pert’s Clockwork Angels proved popular may consider purchasing this title, but fans of more historical steampunk may prefer Devon Monk’s “The Age of Steam” series or Meljean Brook’s “Iron Seas” books.—Melanie C. Duncan, Shurling Lib., Macon, GA
(c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Product Details

Publication date:
Chronicles of the Pneumatic Zeppelin Series , #1
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.40(w) x 8.20(h) x 1.30(d)

Meet the Author

Richard Ellis Preston, Jr. is fascinated by the steampunk genre, which he sees as a unique storytelling landscape. Romulus Buckle and the City of the Founders is the first installment in his new steampunk series, The Chronicles of the Pneumatic Zeppelin. Richard has also written for film and television. He lives in California.

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Romulus Buckle & the City of the Founders 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 5 reviews.
DiiMI More than 1 year ago
A thoroughly entertaining, good old fashioned fun read, I promise! Just sit back and let the world-building come to life in your mind, and you will find yourself lost in steampunk action at its chaotic best! Set in the future, after a devastating alien invasion has brought the world to its knees, Romulus Buckle & the City of the Founders by Richard Ellis Preston, Jr., is a swashbuckling adventure of epic proportions as Romulus and his zeppelin crew cut through the skies on a dangerous mission across southern California to rescue Romulus’ adoptive father, the venerable Balthazar Crankshaft and other clan leaders who are kidnapped by the Founders. (Cue the evil music.) The odds are against them, but this motley crew has a few tricks of their own up their sleeves. Will it be enough or is this Steampunk's version of Mission Impossible? Richard Ellis Preston, Jr. knows how to create a quirky and fun world that screams steampunk! From the sights, sounds and atmosphere, one can hear the clanking, the hissing, as well as see the fascinating steam-powered inventions. Filled with uniquely over the top characters with names that will make you chuckle, this is a fast paced, chaotic adventure where the name of the game is action! Fun fantasy, refreshingly devoid of angst, weakness and cowardice, just strap in for the a wild and crazy ride into the future. I received this copy from 47North in exchange for my honest review.
ThePlum More than 1 year ago
I thoroughly enjoyed this book's pace, plot, and use of steampunk tech. A must read if you are into the genre.
Barbed1951 More than 1 year ago
Thoroughly entertaining steampunk adventure, I loved it! I thought this book was a little slow at the start, there were lots of introductions of characters and background going on, but a bit of action started fairly quickly and escalated quite nicely from there. I thought this was a fantastic world, set in an area of Southern California I know well, but hundreds of years in the future after a catastrophic alien attack left the landscape and atmosphere changed forever, as well as inhibiting the use of electricity. Romulus Buckle and his airship crew set out to rescue his adoptive father, Balthazar Crankshaft, who has been kidnapped, along with several other clan leaders, by the Founders. There are wonderful, quirky characters with fun names, interesting steam contraptions, including the zeppelin and their weapons, lots of adventure, and a very satisfactory ending which left plenty of questions to be answered in the next book, Romulus Buckle and the Engines of War. I can't wait to read the next adventure to find out more about the backgrounds of my favorite characters, including Sabrina, Romulus and Max, and to get all my questions answered.
EllieAnn More than 1 year ago
I wholeheartedly enjoyed this adventure!  This creative steampunk world is a great addition to the genre! It's well written, with engaging characters and thrilling action! The apocalyptic setting creates tension on every page--there's a lot coming against Romulus, which makes this a page-turner. The cast of characters is well written. I enjoyed the alien species that was integrated so well into the book.  The only reason I didn't give it 5-stars (I love the plot, characters, and it was very well written) was because the first 60 pgs (at least) should have been cut. I highly recommend it!
Sailon More than 1 year ago
Captain Romulus Buckle and his zeppelin crew must take on a mission into Founders territory to rescue the clan leaders. A spy in the mists of the Founders reveal that they are the ones responsible for the disappearance during a peace conference. A near impossible mission, they are about to face incomprehensible peril while trying to traverse political games and ploys for power. Romulus Buckle & The City of the Founders was an extremely complex story with an all consuming use of phraseology...this was not an easy read but definitely worth the time. The adventure takes place in a dystopian world (post alien invasion) but has a wonderful steampunkish flare...gadgets, zeppelins and gismos to delight even the uber steampunk enthausist. Thrust into a fantastical world of Richard Preston's imagination, the reader can't help but be swept away for the entire journey.  This ARC copy of Romulus Buckle and the City of the Founders was given to me by Amazon Publishing - 47North in exchange for a honest review. This book is set for publication July 2, 2013.