Review: Gideon Smith and the Brass Dragon by David Barnett

January 8, 2015 4 stars, Book Review 14 ★★★★

Review: Gideon Smith and the Brass Dragon by David BarnettGideon Smith and the Brass Dragon by David Barnett
Series: Gideon Smith #2
Published by Tor Books on September 16, 2014
Genres: Adult SFF, Historical Fantasy, Steampunk
Pages: 352
Format: Paperback
Source: Publisher
Goodreads
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My Reviews in this series: Gideon Smith and the Mechanical Girl

*This book was provided by the Publisher for review. No compensation was provided and all opinions are strictly my own.

Nineteenth century London is the center of a vast British Empire, a teeming metropolis where steam-power is king and airships ply the skies, and where Queen Victoria presides over three quarters of the known world—including the east coast of America, following the failed revolution of 1775.

Young Gideon Smith has seen things that no green lad of Her Majesty’s dominion should ever experience. Through a series of incredible events Gideon has become the newest Hero of the Empire. But Gideon is a man with a mission, for the dreaded Texas pirate Louis Cockayne has stolen the mechanical clockwork girl, Maria, along with a most fantastical weapon—a great brass dragon that was unearthed beneath ancient Egyptian soil. Maria is the only one who can pilot the beast, so Cockayne has taken girl and dragon off to points east.

Gideon and his intrepid band take to the skies and travel to the American colonies hot on Cockayne’s trail. Not only does Gideon want the machine back, he has fallen in love with Maria. Their journey will take them to the wilds of the lawless lands south of the American colonies—to free Texas, where the mad King of Steamtown rules with an iron fist (literally), where life is cheap and honor even cheaper.

Does Gideon have what it takes to not only save the day but win the girl?

David Barnett's Gideon Smith and the Brass Dragon is a fantastical steampunk fable set against an alternate historical backdrop: the ultimate Victoriana/steampunk mash-up!
four-stars

​Another fine adventure, Gideon Smith and the Brass Dragon takes our young adventurer to the Americas where he visits New York and sets off for Steamtown, Texas (aka San Antonio) chasing after Louis Cockayne who stole the Brass Dragon with Maria piloting it. Steamtown which has seceded from British America is ruled by a madman obsessed with steam technology and there is a world of trouble all over this wild west type setting for Gideon and company to get into.

A constant change of scenery and perspectives

While there was a large cast in the first book, this one blows it out of the water with how frequently the perspectives jump around. This wasn’t necessarily a bad thing but I could see how it might be offputting to some readers if they prefer books where they follow around just one or two characters. Myself however, whenever I encounter a book that has a large cast of characters I start keeping track of them in my reviews with mini descriptions of each. That way I have them all listed for the future if I ever go back to look at the review to remember all of the characters more clearly and just in case they appear in a future book. So here they are. I did not put them in order of importance. Some of them only get very few chapters or even smaller sections within a chapter.

Charles Darwin – yes that Darwin! Here his life has been prolonged by steampunk science and his body runs on coal. We see him and his colleague marooned on an island together that is inhabited by dinosaurs.

Professor Rubicon – a professor and colleague of Darwin that organizes an expedition in search of the ‘Lost World’ of dinosaurs.

Gideon Smith – new Hero of the British Empire, young adventurer, in love with the mechanical automaton girl Maria. He is sent in a mission to the Americas to revive the Egyptian Brass Dragon and hopefully rescue Maria. He is accompanied by Aloysius Bent, the fat and poorly mannered journalist who is now his personal chronicler of his adventures and Rowena Fanshawe the aerostat pilot.

Aloysius Bent – we don’t really get his perspective since he’s constantly just trailing along after Gideon, drinking, binge eating and farting up a storm. Charming fellow that one.

Rowena Fanshawe – aerostat pilot, an enterprising young woman somewhat enamored with Gideon and for all of her bluster she has a really good heart and will see justice done.

Louis Cockayne – a pirate, thief and card shark. He stole the brass Dragon along with Maria but has now lost them and is at the not so tender mercies of the king of Steamtown.

Inez Batiste Palomo – Spanish daughter of the governor of Uvalde, a Spanish settlement that has been practically abandoned by their government, in love with Chantico.

The Nameless – an outlaw that has the uncanny ability of being at the right place at the right time for helping folks out of nasty situation, he’s been on a search to find “America.”

Jed Hart – acts as a guide to Gideon and Bent when they go on a mission into Steamtown. But he’s more then what he seems.

Thaddeus Pinch – a Texan and self styled king of Steamtown, aka San Antonio. A den of wretched lawlessness, slavery and all other such nastiness. His body has been augmented in quite nasty ways with steampunk technology. eeeyuck. LOL

Rancher Oswald Ackroyd – a cattle rancher who lives close enough to Steamtown to be harassed by the ruffians employed by the steam king. (Very small bit where his pov appears)

Haruki Serizawa – a science officer in Nyu Edo. He is hard at work on a creation that is supposed to protect the city from something very dangerous.

Chantico – young Native American man in love with Inez.

All the cogs are turning in this adventure

If you were a big fan of the first book Gideon Smith and the Mechanical Girl as I was then I have no doubt you’ll likely enjoy this new adventure. Because whereas the first book was steampunk Victorian London, seaside towns and Egyptian tombs this book gave us an entirely new adventure mixing the wild west steampunk San Antonio as a hive of villainy, a young New York, and a westernized Japanese city – oh and lets not forget The Lost World. Who wouldn’t want to throw a dinosaur into the mix. I have to admit I was really surprised at that one. I’m thinking we might see more of that in the next book.

Ultimately, the fact that there was SOO much going on in this installment could either work for the book or against it depending on the type of story you enjoy. I for one still love the style of mad dash adventure. It reads just how I would imagine Gideon’s penny dreadful novels would. Chalka packed full of action with some scenarios that could border on the ridiculous but only add to the fun.

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Tabitha (Pabkins)

When I'm in the zone I can flip book pages faster than the eye can see - screaming "More Input!" I'm a book, yarn, & art supply hoarding goblin who loves to draw, make toys and craft all sorts of creepy cute things. My current habit is to listen to audio books while I'm arting it up!
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14 Responses to “Review: Gideon Smith and the Brass Dragon by David Barnett”

  1. Lynn

    I haven’t seen anything about this series before I must confess! – and whilst I was thinking they might not be my cup of tea – I then saw your comment about Aloysisu being a foul mouthed guy – don’t get me wrong, it’s not big and clever but it does make for funny reading sometimes!
    Lynn 😀
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  2. Danya @ Fine Print

    Hmmm, this sounds like it has potential. I don’t think I’ve ever read a steampunk book with Native American characters in it before – yes please! Not sure whether I would enjoy how much seems to be going on though; usually I read steampunk when I want something a little more character driven.
    Danya @ Fine Print recently posted…Review: The Young Elites by Marie LuMy Profile