I’ve recently had the pleasure of reading the latest offering from Skull Island Expeditions – Chris A Jackson’s Blood & Iron novella. In this, the most recent installment of the Warcaster Chronicles imprint, we follow the shenanigans of Captain Phinneus Shae and his crew as they’re pursued on the high seas by persons seeking to lay claim to the bounty on Shea’s head.
I can’t claim to be familiar with Jackson’s earlier work, but I will say that I was impressed with how, as an author, he handled two things in particular.
1. Working with the naval setting.
[Post-review-writing note: looking at Jackson’s existing biography, it’s no surprise whatsoever – the man’s an experienced high-seas storyteller]
The vast bulk of Blood & Iron takes place on board Shae’s ship, the Talion. This is a sizeable vessel with a crew of over 200 sea dogs (Take THAT, Jack Sparrow), including an array of specialists such as a father-and-daughter team of engineers. There’s the standard rigging you’ll find on historical ships, and while I’m not of a particularly nautical bent personally and thus can’t verify, Jackson’s easy familiarity with nautical terminology and the intricacies of sailing verbiage is pervasive.
Then there are the steam-powered paddlewheels, which add a whole new level of complication. I ended the book feeling as if I’d managed to expand my vocabulary in the process, always a bonus.