I just finished reading an absolutely fun, action-filled steampunk novel. FOR STEAM AND COUNTRY was written by Jon Del Arroz. It is the kind of novel that, when you sit down to start reading –time gets away from you. As a reader I was sucked right into the story for two very key, and important readers. First, Arroz has created some of the most memorable, and likeable characters I have seen in some time. You will absolutely fall in love with the lead, Zaira von Monocle. She is a farmer, who is forced to become a soldier. Her strength and her intensity never change. They were always there. But her character certainly grows as she goes from running the family farm on her own, to fighting to save the country of Rislandia (and its people). Second, the story is creative as all-get-out. Could be because I don’t normally read a lot of steampunk that I found this novel unique, and engrossing, and compelling. (But I will find out, as I may now be hooked on the genre)!

In FOR STEAM AND COUNTRY, as I said, Zaira runs a family farm. Her mother has passed away, and her father has been absent from the scene for years. When Zaire receives visitors, she learns from her father’s attorney that, in fact, her father has finally been declared deceased. In his will, he left Zaira not only the deed to the farm, but something else. Something much, much more valuable.

The Liliana wasn’t just Zaira’s mother’s name. It was also the name Theo von Monocle gave to his airship. (I pictured a zeppelin, but also an actual pirate ship that flies when reading, and finally settled on a combination of both). As the heir, Zaire is now the commander of the ship, despite being just a teenager. The crew, who loved her father, accept Zaire, but respect, loyalty, and trust are not given. They are earned.

The Wyranth are from the Iron Empire, an evil realm bent on war with Rislandia. Zaira’s airship demands fear –normally. Enemies rarely know how to fight against such a monstrous contraption. However, things change when the Wyranth no longer fear the vessel, and war between the lands looks unavoidable.

Worse, or potentially better, Zaira and the crew of the Liliana receive word. The enemy may have prisoners in stashed inside the dungeons of the Iron Empire. In keeping with her father’s tradition of never leaving a soul behind, the Liliana is faced with two missions. One sanctioned, one rogue. Fighting alongside King Malaky, of Rislandia –that is a given. Rescuing the prisoners . . . well, doing so goes without saying. Literally!

But can the Liliana, with such a young leader, accomplish such impossible tasks? The fate of an entire country rest on Zaira’s shoulders. The burden is there, heavy, palpable. Can a teenage girl take on such impossible missions and rise to the occasion, or is Rislandia destined to be doomed, and overtaken by the Wyranth of the evil leader of Iron Empire?

Find out. Read the book. You will not be disappointed.

Phillip Tomasso,
Author of the Severed Empire Series,
and the Vaccination trilogy

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