“Chivalry lives in all times, mister.” —Ichabod Temperance in Book 1, A Matter of Temperance
As a genre, I love steampunk’s science & steam collaboration. It’s a world where internal combustion never replaces the steam engine, so everything is a combination of gears and gorgeous decorations, plus a dash of Dickens and Queen Victoria, and/or the Wild, Wild West. You can use the genre to point out the racism and sexism of the (usually Victorian) period. Or you can just go for the romance of airships, goggles, and corsets. Either way, you get to plonk down a bunch of gears, fire up an airship, and save the world.
What’s that you say? It couldn’t really work because the massive energy requirements would never become reality? In his steampunk series, today’s guest author Ichabod Temperance neatly sidesteps these picky details by combining steam with a handwave to “then a miracle occurs”. That way, everything that steam can’t do, the magical abilities conferred by a passing comet can handle.
“I say, this fantastic craft you have built has transported us to a new world, Mr. Temperance, eh hem?”
“Yes, Ma’am, Miss Plumtartt, Ma’am! Gosh, we find ourselves among many mythological beasts of outrageous legend. It would take three of me to make just one of the dwarves that live around here.”
“Yes, quite, and I find that there is no shortage of troll, gremlin, or magical creature to assail us in our destined quest.”
“You sure are right about that, Ma’am. In fact, I think we have gotten embroiled in a sweeping, high fantasy saga of epic proportions!”
Title: A Journey of Temperance (The Adventures of Ichabod Temperance Book 9)
- Author: Ichabod Temperance
- Genre: Steampunk
- Publisher: GoldenBear Creative Works
- Date of Publication: 28 March 2016
- Number of pages: 250
I like to start series reviews with the claim that this book can be read as a standalone. But this one really shouldn’t be. In fact, although I received Book 9 as a review copy, after reading the first few pages I went back and bought Book 1. Not only is the backstory important, but the “Ichabod Temperance” writing style is unique and requires adjustments.
In looking back over my notes, the very first thing I wrote for Book 1 is:
“Please, Dear Calliope, Muse of Epic Poetry and Literature, don’t let them talk this way through the entire book…”
Only here’s the thing. Those Muses are getting a bit long in the tooth, and I think that Calliope called a newcomer, Terry Pratchett, in as pinch-hitter.
So…here’s the first thing you have to get used to in order to read and enjoy this series. It’s not so much a case of show vs tell. Observations—every last damn one of them—are in the often-stilted form of thoughts or dialog. Instead of saying, “The king stood before them dressed in…” a character will announce, “You are the King dressed in X and Y”. This gives them an archaic feel that takes some getting used to.
But if you make it past the blatant info dump lightly masquerading as dialog, you’re in for a treat. We hear how the Revelatory Comet passed through the atmosphere in 1869. But unlike Halley’s comet that captured the attention of the world in 1835, this one actually changed many people. Its wake left some with extraordinary abilities, some magical and some in the form of gadget and engineering skills.
One of those people is Ichabod Temperance, who is transformed from a simple Alabama farm boy to a gadget wizard. He’s heading for England to deliver his invention—the Green Beauties goggles—to super scientist, Professor Plumtartt, whose premier contribution to the post-comet world is the creation of a virtually infinite energy source. Plumtartt’s Sol Furnace is the solution to the “steam just can’t produce enough energy” intrinsic problem of Victorian steampunk worlds. But before Ichabod arrives, the professor is killed and his daughter, Persephone, is altered by an experiment gone terribly wrong, releasing a demonic evil on the world.
Arriving in London, Ichabod uses his goggles to save Persephone, and together they embark on a journey that will take them around the world in order to save it. That journey continues in one form or another through the rest of the series. And along the way, much as with Terry Pratchett in his epic Discworld series, there is simply no pun too low, no social reference too topical, and no literary one off limits. Consider:
Golly it’s hard to say goodbye to our friends on the Minnow. If Captain Hale could, I bet he and his crew would be willing to see us through our coming adventures. I can still see him, back there on the deck of his ship. Impulsively, Captain Hale and I call to one another.
Yup, you got it, Gilligan.
In creating Ichabod and Persephone’s steampunk world, the author must have had a shopping list with every conceivable genre trope. I think he crossed off each of them. Goggles, bowler, corsets, lethal parasol? Check. Airships, automatons, astonishing weapons with peculiar acronyms? Of course. Kraken, Leviathan, cephalopods of every imaginable variety? Absolutely! Gadget Genius and Aristocratic Lady of Adventure? Meet Ichabod Temperance and Persephone Plumtartt.
The latest volume, A Journey of Temperance, invokes the ghosts of literary genres ranging from Jules Verne and H.G. Wells, to the Brothers Grimm, Tolkien, and even Clement Moore. Ichabod has created a machine designed to tunnel through the earth to create a shortcut for the financial giant, Mr. J. P. Morganstern (Baron of Industry). But thanks to Morganstern’s cost-cutting on construction, the machine goes wrong, plunging them into an internal world of magic. Here there be dragons, literally.
Each section is narrated in turn by gee-shucks Ichabod, the quixotic Alabama farmboy and primly proper Miss Persephone Plumtartt, the Victorian British aristocrat. Their differing voices are critically important, especially because almost all details continue to be delivered via their internal monologues and external dialog exchanges.
The pace is always the same, a rocketing scramble from one adventure to another, rescuing each other using a combination of Ichabod’s inventions and Persephone’s pluck. The characters don’t so much develop as they exercise their abilities in new ways with each situation. Of course, given it’s Book Nine in the series and—although they professed mutual love in Book 1—they still aren’t on a first-name basis, there is definitely nothing here that couldn’t be read by anyone from children to adult. This couple could well be in the Home for Retired Steampunkers without ever taking their relationship to second, let alone third base.
The books are, as I said, an acquired taste. But once I got into them, I laughed at the jokes, groaned at the puns, got into spotting the genres they robbed, and thoroughly enjoyed the adventures. I’d give this series four stars. If you’re looking for an entertaining read with plenty of inside jokes, a distinctive voice, and shameless sense of fun, I would recommend the Ichabod Temperance series.
**I received this book for free from the publisher or author in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.**
CONTACT AND BUY LINKS:
Interview with Ichabod Temperance
Icky joins us today, as always staying in character to discuss his writing and his life.
- What was your first car? In 1980, at the age of sixteen, I inherited my older sister’s 1964 Plymouth ‘Valiant’. It had a Mopar 6 banger and push button gears mounted on the dashboard to the left of the steering wheel.
- Star Wars, Star Trek, or Firefly? Don’t make me choose; I love them all!
- Who would you most like to sit next to on an airplane? Shelley Winters, circa just before ‘The Poseidon Adventure‘. She seems friendly, and interesting. Plus, if I get tired, she would be nice and soft to lean against and I don’t think she would mind.
- Who would play you in the movie? A nineteen year old Don Knotts.
- What is the one thing you can’t live without? Miss Persephone Plumtartt! Oh my Goodness, she is just about the smartest, prettiest, finest girl there ever could be! Besides, I know I could never write or publish these adventures without her.
- What’s the best writing advice you’ve ever heard? The best advice anyone gave me was on my first book. A reviewer told me that I had a good story, but I needed to go back and put more work into it. She was right! I have re-written and worked over that book a dozen times since then. I intend to always be working on these books.
- What are you working on right now? One of my favorite bloggers, Barb Taub, has generously allowed me to be interviewed on her delightful blog. I am currently filling out her author questionnaire.
Bonus! Excerpt from A Journey of Temperance
“Vicki Evervixen, start the fire.”
“Yes, Nubielle Clearbelle, I shall have the water hot in a short time!”
“Come, Gwendolyn, help me to prepare our little male.”
“Thank you, my dear. Tell me, halflet, you’re not scared, are you?”
“No Ma’am, y’all seem like some nice girls!”
“Oh, yes, we are nice girls, indeed.”
“Tee, hee, yes, nice!”
“Shh! Never mind that, my sweet and tender little halflet. You don’t mind if we help you to be comfortable, do you?”
“Um, I reckon not, Ma’am.”
“Oh that is good. Gwendolyn, be a dear and help our guest with his footwear.”
“That ain’t necessa…”
“I shall help the halflet with his shirt.”
“Hey! Okay, okay, I’m comfortable already!”
“You’ll be comfortable when I say you’re comfortable! That shirt is coming off! Gwenny, snatch its pants and anything else it might be wearing!”
“Silence! I said to be comfortable!”
“Yes, Ma’am, but y’all done snatched away all my clothes!”
“Wash the halflet!”
“Hey! What’s going on?!”
“We want to make sure you are clean before we put you in the water.”
“Woah! Miss Gwendolyn is being extra thorough in making sure I’m clean! Hey, that’s funny, y’all wanting to wash me up, before a bath.”
“Bath? Ohhh, riiiight, a bath. How’s that water, Vicki? Is our little rabbit’s ‘bath’ ready?”
“Throw him in, Nubielle!”
“Hey, the water in this big, black kettle is just right! Thanks, ladies!”
“We’re going to add these sliced carrots, celery, and onion to the water. It’s to, eh, soften your skin.”
“Y’all are mighty considerate. What are y’all doing, now? Eek! You’re taking off those skimpy little dresses! I have to look away!”
“Of course, little rabbit, we don’t want to frighten you. We will don something else. It only takes a moment to prepare. Here, let me put some more on you, Vicki.”
“Let me put some of this on Gwenny.”
“Let me apply some to Nubielle!”
“Okay, halflet, you can look now.”
“Gee, those are some skin tight outfits y’all girls got on! It looks like y’all ain’t wearing nothing but mud!”
“On this count, you catch on quick, halflet. Now then, sisters, let us dance!”
“I think this bath water is plenty hot now, y’all can turn down the flames. I know y’all are busy dancing around this here pot and campfire, but this here water is getting really hot!”
This homely runt,
not hard to dupe.
Easy to hunt,
We dress in mud,
and earthen skirt.
Our Hexes flood,
and bless this dirt.
Let nutrition be gained,
from nature’s halflet,
In the soup go the brains,
We’ll scrap over the calf, yet.
“Were y’all saying grace? That’s good, cause I’m real hungry. Say, something smells good! Um, I think I’m ready to come out of this here water. It is really uncomfortable!”
“Shhhh. Quiet, little rabbit. We wish for you to stay there until you are done.”
“I’m done, I’m done! Turn around, don’t look. My skin is all pruney.”
“You’ll stay in the pot, you silly rabbit. Tricks are for kids, baby goat.”
“I ain’t tricking! I gotta get out of here!”
“Quit pushing me back in! Bath-time is over!”
“Stay in the water, you, halflet rabbit!”
“Ow, ow, ow! It hurts! The water is too hot! Y’all quit pushing me back in! Y’all are being mean!”
“Be silent! Verily, thou art as squirmy as any rabbit I have ever encountered!”
“Ow, ow, ow!”
“What are you girls doing? Are you cooking that halflet alive? Stop that! Get him out of that water immediately!”
“Yes, Prince Valiance!”
“Wooh! That’s a lot better! Gee, whiz, I ain’t never been so clean in all my life! When y’all take a bath, y’all ain’t playing around!”
“The orders were to apprehend the pair and bring them to council.”
“There were two, so we thought we would eat one, and bring you the other. Don’t worry, we saved you the good one. The runt we kept for a nutritional snack and pick me up.”
“Yes, we found the female. She is with the rest of the squad and should be here directly. You there, the male halflet, tell me, is your species always so, ehhh, pink?”
“Nossir, it’s on account of that there hot vegetable bath and my blushing at being exposed to so many people in such a vulnerable manner. Can I have my clothes back, please?”
“Vicki took its clothes!”
“Well, Vicki Evervixen?”
“I burned them, Prince Valiance. Lo’ the horrid things gave an awful stench.”
“You burned my clothes?! All of them?”
“No. Here’s your hat.”
“Clothe the lad in something, for Woodland’s sake. The rest of the patrol will be here at any moment. Ah, here they are now.”
“I say, Mr. Temperance, do you suffer a draft, eh hem?”
“Eek! Don’t look, Miss Plumtartt!”
“One attempts not to, Mr. Temperance, but I find myself strangely transfixed at your, if you’ll pardon me, predicament, eh hem?”
“These here are a bunch of mean girls, Miss Plumtartt, Ma’am! They done tricked me out of my clothes and then they burned them!”
“I see. Oh, Mr. Temperance, I should like to offer a suggestion if I may, eh hem?”
“I know you are bashful and are experiencing terrible embarrassment at this moment, are you not?”
“I thought as much, though I would suggest that you protect us from embarrassment my covering your privates, with your derby hat, rather than protecting oneself from embarrassment by covering your face, eh hem?”