Review: Romulus Buckle & The City of the Founders by Richard Ellis Preston Jr.

This is a pretty good representation of this book.

That’s a mouthful! 😀

I’ve had this book in my audible library for a number of months, as I got it as a pretty decent whispersync deal, and I’ve been trying to catch up on everything while I do some stitching and so here we are.

In a postapocalyptic world of endless snow, Captain Romulus Buckle and the stalwart crew of the Pneumatic Zeppelin must embark on a perilous mission to rescue their kidnapped leader, Balthazar Crankshaft, from the impenetrable City of the Founders. Steaming over a territory once known as Southern California — before it was devastated in the alien war — Buckle navigates his massive airship through skies infested with enemy war zeppelins and ravenous alien beasties in this swashbuckling and high-octane steampunk adventure. Life is desperate in the Snow World, and death is quick. Buckle and his ship’s company must brave poisoned wastelands of Noxious Mustard and do battle with forgewalkers, steampipers, and armored locomotives as they plunge from the skies into the underground prison warrens of the fortress city.

Captain Romulus Buckle must lead the Pneumatic Zeppelin and its crew of ne’er-do-wells on a desperate mission where he must risk everything to save Balthazar and attempt to prevent a catastrophic war that could wipe out all that is left of civilization and the entire human race.

This is very probably the steampunkiest steampunk book I have ever read (or listened to) in my entire history of steampunk reading (of which there has actually been a decent amount). Mind you I knew that it was going to be steampunk AF, because read the title and then look at the cover, lol.

This is the story of Romulus Buckle and his crew of his airship, the Pneumatic Zeppelin. He’s only 18 years old, and yet, he is the captain of a ragtag group of orphans and other survivors in this dystopian Los Angeles. He and several of his foster brothers and sisters, who are also the commanding officers of the zeppelin, are about to embark on a dangerous mission to rescue the leader of their clan and foster father, Balthazar Crankshaft, from the City of the Founders.

This world is a dystopian version of our own. Many years ago, aliens came visiting and… the Earth ended up in endless winter after a war with them. Moreso, some parts of certain parts of it are covered in deadly yellow fog known as the Mustard. So, in and around the former city of Los Angeles, there are several ‘clans’ of people. The biggest clans in these parts are the Crankshafts, of which Romulus Buckle and his crew are part; the Alchemists, scientists and astronomers who live in Hollywood, in what I assume is the Griffith Observatory, and who build robots; the Imperials, who build airships; and the Founders, who live in Los Angeles – the titular City of the Founders.

The Founders have kidnapped the leaders of the other clans for some reason, and it’s up to Buckle and his crew to save them. And thus:


As I said, this might be the steampunkiest book I’ve ever read. However, that said, at times it almost felt as though it was trying too hard to be as steampunk as it possibly could, as just about every steampunk buzzword you can think of is included in here at some point, and nearly every character has the most ridiculous name and is so over the top with steam powered gadgets and tophats that it was a little comical, to be honest.

There was one point where Romulus lands on the ground and passes a sign that says ‘espresso’ and quips to himself that he has no idea what espresso is, and the only thing that I could do was chuckle and say to myself: ‘seriously, literally everything in your entire world is steam powered and you don’t have an espresso machine?’ >.>

Nonetheless, I will say that everything technical in this one sounded legit. The author either knows quite a bit about naval commands or how to fly zeppelins or did his research well. Romulus and his crew, despite pretty much nobody in it being much older than their mid-twenties for some reason (and it gave the book a real… maybe not YA but definitely more New Adult feel… but whatever we’ll roll with it) know all the nitty gritty of how their zeppelin works, and how to fly it. Everything that needed to sound technical did, and this was quite an adventure with plenty of exciting things happening.

I’d say this one was Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow meets Bioshock, meets Star Trek TNG, meets… Pirates of the Carribean. Something like a mix of all of those things dropped into post-apocalyptic Los Angeles. It’s not that this is a bad thing. Looking at that sentence… I mean that sounds awesome, right?

Well, at least I think so. 😀

And it was pretty damn entertaining, if I’m honest!

Luke Daniels did a great job narrating this one. Characters all sounded different and had appropriate tones and accents. There was a couple foreign accents that all sounded excellently done. All told I’d give the narration a full 5/5 stars. I do believe that I will someday give the next book in the series a listen, because this one left the story open for more.

About 8 hours of audiobooking…. makes a bookmark for not-audiobooks. 😀

I had about 3.5/5 stars of fun with this one. It was an entertaining steampunk adventure and I’d recommend it to anyone who is a steampunk fan, or who wants to see what the genre is like. It’s not all quite as steam powered as this one is, heh. 😀


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