Liberator by Richard Harland

Richard Harland’s Worldshaker introduced a world that had been torn apart. In this retelling of history, the Napoleonic wars rendered Europe uninhabitable, and the Imperial houses now traverse the globe in the marauding juggernauts. These steampunk behemoths are strictly divided into two classes: the cruel bourgeois of the Upper Decks and the tortured Filthies below. On Worldshaker (the Britsh Imperial juggernaut), a rebellious Filthy girl met an Upper Decks boy, and the rest, as they say, was history. Revolution!

Just a few months later, Worldshaker is now the Filthy-controlled Liberator. A juggernaut of free and equal people, ruled by a revolutionary council, Liberator looks set to overcome centuries of oppression.

But tensions are high on the free man’s city-vehicle.

A saboteur is weakening the juggernaut, adding to the newly-freed Filthies’ paranoia. The revolutionary council is increasingly persecuting the Upper Decks folk who stayed to help the revolution, who in turn feel their efforts are not appreciated. On top of it all the other Imperial houses have put aside their differences in order to destroy the promise of emancipation. They are coming for the Liberator.

In this heated environment, Col, the aristocrat-turned-revolutionary, is drifting apart from his friend Riff, the Filthy girl who kick-started freedom. Sinister elements on the council seem determined to keep them apart.

Liberator, with its thinly veiled allusions to the Russian Revolution, is an exhilarating exploration of what can go wrong (and right) in the search for equality. Like the narrator, the reader feels giddy at overcoming the horrors of the past, but is nervous about the excesses of the present.

Filled with epic battle scenes, beautiful and bizarre descriptions of a moving iron city, and filled with big personalities, it is sure to appeal to history or fantasy-buffs. Even kids doing history at school might learn a thing or two about the way things could have been!

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Richard Harland

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