The Chronicles of the Pneumatic Zeppelin Review - First guest review!

Hey, Geeks and Geekettes, Lyesmith here with a Steampunk book review. But we're going to do things a little different this time. See, my eldest daughter, 11, and I read the same book and loved it so much that as I discussed doing a review, she asked to do one as well. So in this review we're going to include the first ever guest review by none other than my oldest child, KitKatKate! Leave a comment, share the review, and let her know what you thought. Now, without further ado, on the to review!

 Romulus Buckle & The City of the Founders Review
by KitKatKate

My family and I were at the library and Daddy found a book he thought he might like so he brought it home. He liked it so much he started reading out loud and I loved the parts he was reading, so I asked if I could read it after he was done. So he tweeted the author and who said "If she's good with Indiana Jones level of Adventure and violence. I think she'd love the female characters!" So when Daddy finished the book I picked it up and by the time it was dinner time I didn't want to put the book down!

My favorite character in this book is the chief engineer Max, Romulus' adopted sister. Her mom was a human while her father was a Martian. When she would get sad her eyes would turn blue but she knew that Martians weren't supposed to get upset and most important weren't supposed to show their feelings. I love Max because of her Martian side, I love her back story and I think she gives a nice touch to the book.

I think all the female characters have very big parts in the book. Without the female characters I think the book wouldn't be as good. I feel like the female characters are more and more important as I went on. And the female characters are more important to this book than most books I read. The biggest female characters in the book are Sabrina Serafim, she is the chief navigator, Romulus and Max's adopted sister. She has a mysterious past, she's a lot like Romulus and she is a potential love interest for Romulus (she likes him). And Andromeda Pollux, She's the leader of the Alchemists clan, she's a mother-like figure to everyone and could calm down almost any situation.

My least favorite character is Katzenjammer Smelt, the leader of the Imperials, a rival clan to Romulus, Max, and Sabrina's Crankshaft Clan. He hates Romulus and he is my least favorite because he's the leader of the Imperials who raided the Crankshafts' home base which lead to Romulus' birth sister's death.

The plot of the story is the Pneumatic Zeppelin, Romulus Buckles' ship, is on a rescue mission to save Balthazar, the leader of the Crankshaft and Romulus' adopted father, who was kidnapped by the Founders clan during a meeting of all the clan leaders. Balthazar and most of the other clan leaders were taken captive in the city of the Founders.

I think the Author who wrote the book did a really good job and if he was to write another series I would read it. This book is not like any other Steampunk book I have read.

The Chronicles of the Pneumatic Zeppelin Review by Lyesmith

Captain Romulus Buckle is a combination of Captain Jack Sparrow, Captain James T. Kirk, and Captain Malcolm Reynolds. Like his fellow captains, as with any good sci-fi story, Captain Buckle has a ship who is nearly a character in and of itself. The Pneumatic Zeppelin is an Imperial Clan-made war zeppelin; an airship designed to navigate the skies in the post-apocalyptic future of what used to be California, now Snow World. After an alien invasion left the human race without electricity, steam-power became the necessary form of mechanics. Thus we are thrust into a different kind of Steampunk. Instead of being held down by traditional aspects, time frames, and references of characters and popular figures, The Romulus Buckle series puts us in the future that depends on steam-powered tech, giving the opportunity to forge a new mythology around the genre.

Romulus himself is a wonderful blend of the aforementioned Captains, in my view. He has the flamboyant attitude and daring of Jack Sparrow which can be seen in the way he captains his ship to his swordplay. While the stubbornness and disregard for rules (especially in the face of what he deems best for his crew) reminds one of Captain Kirk. He's the first one on 'away missions' outside the ship, much to the chagrin of his deck crew, and carries that air of arrogance to him, a confidence in himself that even you'll believe because HE believes it so much. Last, but certainly not least, he holds a darkness in him that can be felt by anyone close to him. He reminds one of the war-hardened Malcolm Reynolds of Firefly fame, having lost and seen so much for someone so young, there's a hole in him that can only be filled by taking whatever small victories he can against those he deems his enemy. But also like the aforementioned Captain, Romulus is surrounded by a loyal crew of friends and family that keep him centered.

The crew itself is more than half the reason to read this book. While Romulus is the main character, and a fabulous one, the story is very much an ensemble. The crew of the Pneumatic Zeppelin give the story heart and soul. The crew you see the most of in the story tends to be adopted siblings of Romulus, all of whom were adopted by the leader of their clan, the Crankshafts, Balthazar. The first book centers around Romulus and his crew going to rescue his adopted father from the City of the Founders after the clan leaders had been kidnapped during a meeting of the clans. The 2nd book deals with the ramifications of breaking into the city, and adjusting to the information gleaned from rescue, as well as the Clans forging ahead, forming alliances to deal with the looming threat that faces all the Clans. I'll not go into too great of detail about the plot themselves, as this is really something you need to experience for yourself. Hopefully I can convince you without giving too much away.

This book has very few slow parts, and those that are slow really aren't. Very few times did I find myself going "okay, I think this is a good spot to stop and get some sleep." It usually went "okay, after they deal with this crisis, I'll go to.. okay, after they deal with both of these crises, THEN I can go to.. Sheesh, does the author have it out for these guys, or what?? Okay, after they deal with ALL THREE life-threatening issues, THEN I will go to bed..." The drama keeps you enthralled, but the humor and lighter moments of the book make you invested in these characters and fear for their safety as they make their way across the sky.

While this definitely gives us a different kind of Steampunk, this book is everything you want in a Steampunk book. It has all the bullet points you want to see from a Steampunk novel while not falling into a boring routine you've seen a million times. While not set in Victorian England, the world Mr. Preston has built holds a lot of the same characteristics. You get political intrigue, you get a touch of class hierarchy here and there, and of course he takes the nautical warfare and throws it into the sky. In the vein of Verne and Wells, and the earlier Poe, Richard Ellis Preston Jr. gives us what Poe described as the "plausible style", where details of this fictitious world are written in such as a way as to seem real. And that's where the series really grabs me, really draws me in, is that you feel like you're a member of this crew. You are on this zeppelin with Captain Buckle. Mr. Preston writes so you feel like you're in the sky, on this zeppelin. His grasp of knowledge on how these things work, and the way he presents it, makes even his embellishments seem plausible. Honestly, some of the things he talked about went right over my head. I've never worked on a zeppelin. I've never even been on a proper ship. So some of the things he described, I had no idea about. But it seemed plausible. It had enough truth to it that the fiction wasn't a huge jump for the imagination to make. I believe Jules Verne would've applauded the book, being written as a scientific writer would've approached the subject. And all of these things are important to a Steampunk novel. All of these things, done so well, are what make a /good/ Steampunk novel.

Did I mention Martians? Two of which are half-Martians adopted by Balthazar and are Romulus' adopted siblings. And alien animals with glowing eyes? Preston weaves these things into his story, giving it an awesome sci-fi edge that, in my opinion, should be in MORE Steampunk novels. He does this without pushing us out of sci-fi and into fantasy.

I'll provide links below to various places you can buy this series. And I highly suggest you do. KitKatKate and I are waiting rather impatiently for the 3rd installment to the series. We're keeping each other occupied with discussion about the books and 'what if's. Some of which have gotten quite spirited.
 The argument we had over who would've won the Buckle/Smelt duel got some odd looks in the grocery as we may have gotten a little loud.

Check out Mr. Richard Ellis Preston Jr. on facebook, twitter, and his own page where you can find more information about him and his writing. His personal site is definitely one to check out. Right no (Aug. 14 2015) you can get the Chronicles of the Pneumatic books for the Kindle on Amazon for super cheap. Really, it's a steal. Check it out!

Romulus Buckle & the City of the Founders on - Book 1

Romulus Buckle & The Engines of War on - Book 2

Chronicles of the Pneumatic on Audible read by Luke Daniels

Richard Ellis Preston Jr. on Facebook! 

@RichardEPreston on Twitter!


  1. A special congratulations to KitKatKate on your first review! It's nice to hear about a female character in such a important role as Chief Navigator! Do you think the author was trying to be mindful of and seeking to dispel negative stereotypes like "women can't drive well" or "women aren't leaders?" Are there any other instances where the author has an opportunity to address stereotypes of women's roles, and how does he handle these opportunities?

    I haven't read any steampunk yet, but these reviews make me think I should give these books a try. Thanks guys!


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