The Order of the Air Omnibus - Books 1-3 by Melissa Scott
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I bought a copy of The Order of the Air Omnibus based on the authors other work notably the licensed Stargate novels and the blurb seemed appealing and I got a good deal on this 3 novel offering. The omnibus consists of the first three novels in the series, Lost Things, Steel Blues and Silver Bullet.
The draining of Lake Nemi in Italy disturbs a centuries long bounding of a malevolent entity, it escapes and attempts to seek out a powerful host in which to cause chaos and corruption while satisfying it's own bloodlust and desire for power.
As the great depression bites hard Gilchrist Aviation enter a grand air race across the United States whose rewards could see them through to when the country rebuilds. Things get more complicated after the theft of a cursed necklace, serial killings in New Orleans, a mysterious professional thief and a scandal hungry press.
A number of aircraft are downed in a very specific area of mountains and Dr. Jerry Ballard who is in the city practicing his one true love becomes embroiled in the mystery and the legendary Tesla may be involved. The added puzzle of a bronze tablet adds a level of complexity to Jerry's life but also the promise of his greatest achievement.
I really didn't know what to expect from this collection but I did enjoy the era the stories reside in, the limitations of technology and society make many of the plot elements and characters far richer than they could be if an attempt was made to transpose them to modern times. The characters backstories circling around the first world war was also excellent world building and the use of "magic" or spirituality again just added another layer to the stories. I was often surprised by what I read and I admit a few raised eyebrows as we learnt about Alma, Mitchell, Jerry and Lewis and some of it may not sit well with a few readers but every lifestyle choice, character trait and flaw works wonderfully.
Lost Things is an excellent opener as we see the team come together to truly exploit their talents and the ramifications of bringing Lewis into the group. The Roman mythology angle was most satisfying and again the pacing thanks to the timeframe required for travelling around the states and globally worked to the plots advantage.
Steel Blues built upon the foundation of the first novel and really underlines the firm ground Alma and Lewis are building their relationship on and helped by being surrounded by a supporting Jerry and Mitchell. It's not a perfect "family" of course and the adventures of the coast to coast race allows for a lot of humour especially from a press that delight in scandal and Alma with a "male harem" in attendance sells newspapers. The introduction of Stasi is also delightful, wonderfully written and well within trope and she glues the mysterious theft of the cursed iron necklace and serial killings to perfection.
Silver Bullet takes a step back from the pressures the aviation company were under at the height of the depression, they have a new employee and a new plane. Lewis is gaining in power and Mitchell has a decision to make but Jerry is happy and earning a living pricing a collection when he discovers something that could change his life if not the history of the world as we know it. The group once again are faced with challenges both physical and mystical and there is little need to lay much groundwork, the story jumps from the page and never lets up and mixes the elements of the novel in an entertaining and very pleasing way.
I have to say the three novels in the omnibus rewarded me with far more than I expected, loved the choice of era the stories are set in and the aviation aspect along with the very strong female lead and very able supporting characters. It didn't take much effort to be fully engrossed in the lives of the main characters, well written and threaded through interesting situations and I have no worries about purchasing the fourth novel in the series.
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