Sunday, July 5, 2015

Hippos and Steam-Powered Dogfights

Review: Harry In the Wild (Iron Pegasus 2) by Steve Turnbull

Harriet (Harry) and Khuwelsa (Sellie), the uncommon Edgbaston sisters, discover a dead German from a Zeppelin crew at their secret watering hole during a shakedown flight in the steam-powered ornithopter Pegasus. They decide they need to carry the body to the German base and deliver him to Lieutenant Schmidt, the officer who helped them escape in Harry Takes Off

The dead man is clutching a hippo tooth, and when the Pegasus then comes across a raft of slaughtered hippopotamuses, Harry sees red. She is determined to find out why the Germans are harvesting hippo teeth.

Khuwelsa, none too sure she wants to get anywhere near the Germans, is more concerned about what their father will say about their unannounced diversion—especially when Harry's plan calls for Sellie to disguise herself as a native, and walk into the German base wrapped only in the thin kitenge the East African village women wore.

And thus another steam-powered adventure for the Edgbaston girls begins. Khuwelsa gets to lead in this tale, and discovers the pros and cons of being the "front man", while still managing to be a compleat engineer. 

No, that's not a typo. Sellie is the quintessential mechanic, designer and scientific user of the Pegasus and its power plant. Harry only flies the machine, although her "only" is significantly better than most men's flying skills. 

As always, it's Harry who drives the pair to embark on adventures, and Sellie who acquiesces to her lead. The mayor of a small town is astounded at the girls' decision to pursue the German Zeppelin whose crew killed the hippos and, incidentally, also burned the town. Harry asks him:
“Would I be right in thinking you’ve been attacked by a Zeppelin crewed by German airmen?”
The entire group looked astonished. “How did you know?” said the mayor.
“We’ve been on their tail for a while.” Khuwelsa put her hand over her face to hide her smile at Harry’s exaggerated account of the situation.
The mayor looked at Harry, then Khuwelsa, then the Pegasus. “You’re chasing them?”

This is a worthy successor to the first Iron Pegasus novel. It's short for a novel (110 pages), but you won't feel it. Every page is packed with action, and the story moves swiftly (and hair-raisingly) to a smashing conclusion.

I can't wait for Volume 3!