My rating: 3 of 5 stars
As usual, I received this book because somebody gave it to me for free. In this case, the author approached me directly with a copy. Despite this kind consideration, I give my candid opinions below, as will quickly become evident.
Firstly, this collection describes itself as Historical Steampunk but I’d posit that the strength of it lies primarily in its history. The Steampunk aspects are rather an afterthought since few aspects of that genre appear anywhere before the last 30 pages of a 512 page book.
Positively speaking, Musgrave makes wonderful use of history in this series. In the course of three books he touches on all the major social issues of the mid 1860s from race relations to women’s rights and describes them in vivid and memorable detail. The works are also obviously meticulously researched and 99% accurate in their historical contexts which is a major accomplishment and a rare one in this genre. The author also has a way of crafting an engaging story in the midst of all the education.
The negative aspects of the series are primarily technical in nature. A surprising number of typographical errors have made their way into the text and the dialog is sometimes rather weak and plastic. Descriptions of events are often too brief and implausible and generally lacking editorial polish. It’s evident what the author is trying to build up to in the series but it just doesn’t hang together very well and seems rather forced.
In summary, I feel educated after these novels and at times was entertained but not overwhelmingly impressed. There’s great potential in the stories and the history but the execution is too slippery to be entirely ignored.