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The Court of the Air by Stephen Hunt

The Court of the Air

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Sarah Broadhurst's view...

A compelling fantasy set in a Victorian-style world of airships and intrigue, this book is a real gem. One of those where to talk about it is to spoil it. A big book that rattles along excitingly and contains a few good surprises. It’s what the trade call a cross-over book, being suitable for both adults and children. In fact older Harry Potter fans will love it. It’s the kind of book that makes you want to jump up and down and press it onto all your friends. Absolutely wonderful.

Comparison: Susanna Clarke, Philip Pulman, James Robertson.

If you like Stephen Hunt you might also like to read books by Susanna Clarke, Iain Banks and Col Buchanan.

Who is Sarah Broadhurst


The Court of the Air by Stephen Hunt

Two orphans on the run, each with the power to save the world…

When streetwise Molly Templar witnesses a brutal murder at the brothel she has recently been apprenticed to, her first instinct is to scurry back to the poorhouse where she grew up. But there she finds her fellow orphans butchered, and it slowly dawns on her that she was the real target of the attack.

Oliver Brooks has led a sheltered existence in the backwater home of his merchant uncle. But when he is framed for his only relative's murder he is forced to flee for his life, accompanied by an agent of the mysterious Court of the Air.

Molly and Oliver each carry secrets in their blood - secrets that will either get them killed or save the world from an ancient terror. Thown into the company of outlaws, thieves and spies as they flee their ruthless enemies, the two orphans are also aided by indomitable friends in this endlessly inventive tale full of drama, intrigue and adventure.


‘An inventive, ambitious work, full of wonders and marvels’ Lisa Tuttle, The Times

‘The characters are convincing and colourful, but the real achievement is the setting, a hellish take on Victorian London ... the depth and complexity of Hunt’s vision makes it compulsive reading for all ages’ Guardian

‘Wonderfully assured … Hunt knows what his audience like and gives it to them with a sardonic wit and carefully developed tension’ Time Out

‘Rich and colourful … keeps you engrossed … a confident, audacious novel’ SFX

About the Author

Stephen Hunt has written one previous book, the fantasy novel For the Crown and the Dragon, which won the WH Smith New Talent Award in 1994 and was published by the UK's largest bookseller under the auspices of their New Talent Initiative. It went on to get praise in reviews as diverse as Locus, the Guardian, Science Fiction Chronicle, Arcane, Broadsword and various other newspapers and genre titles.

Stephen Hunt set up one of the first science fiction and fantasy web sites,, in 1994, the same year Netscape was launched as a graphical web browser. Today Stephen Hunt's â„¢ has 340,000 readers a month and is PageRanked as the second most popular science fiction site on the internet (the first being, the web site of the SciFi television channel).

Originally set up to help promote Hunt's fiction, the site has expanded into an online magazine featuring SFF book and movie reviews, editorials, fiction, articles and news. Contributors include authors such as Ken Macleod and Stephen Baxter, as well as hundreds of science fiction and fantasy fans around the world.

Stephen Hunt lives in Surrey with his wife and children.

Below is a Q&A with this author.

1) When do you find time to write while fitting in a job, family, hobbies the website and “nerding about on your PC”?

The trick here is to make the best use of your dead time – that hour both ways on the train becomes liquid gold when you pull out your laptop or notepad to get jiggy with the wordage. The hour at lunch becomes a creative opportunity, rather than just sixty minutes of bored meandering around Pret in the hopeless search for a new sarnie you haven’t tried before. Getting up early helps, too, so you can fit in some coffee shop time before the day job; hey, if it was good enough for JK Rowling… I’m usually up around 5.50am each morning.

2) Who or what has been the biggest influence on your writing?

For me this is always a difficult question, because I’ve read so many science fiction and fantasy books when I was younger, plundering my father’s library – he was an early genre fan, and we had thousands of SFF titles knocking around. Influences would have to include authors like Jules Verne, Arthur C. Clark, Jack Vance, Iain Banks, Sheri S. Tepper, Samuel R. Delany, Gene Wolfe, James Blish, C. J. Cherryh, Ben Bova, William Gibson, H.G. Wells, Greg Bear, Philip K. Dick, Larry Niven, Joe Haldeman, Frederik Pohl, Edgar Rice Burroughs, Jerry Pournelle, Michael Moorcock, J.R. Tolkien, Clifford Simak, Douglas Adams, Dan Simmons, Isaac Asimov, John Wyndham, Piers Anthony, Harry Harrison, Robert Heinlein, Robert Silverberg, Ray Bradbury, A. E. van Vogt, Kurt Vonnegut, Alec Effinger.

3) Stuck alone on a desert island would you rather have one good Scifi novel to read or your favourite Scifi TV series (plus battery powered TV to watch on)?

I’d go for a book every time. If I absolutely had to go for a TV set though, I’d ask for Bladerunner on DVD. That’s one of the few science fiction movies I can watch more than once and never get tired of seeing it.

4) What is your favourite book outside the Scifi Fantasy genre? Or What is your favourite book? Or both??

Outside the genre, it would be a toss up between Martin Amis’s Money or A Man in Full by Tom Wolfe. I suspect if I had to make the dreaded Desert Island Disc choice now, my book would be outside the science fiction and fantasy genre, just because once you start writing books in the SFF genre, it becomes much harder to (re)read genre novels without bringing a much more critical eye to the novels. I’m reliably told by someone in the business that chefs feel the same when they eat in someone else’s restaurant. It kind of ruins the experience.

5) What is it about the Victorian era that particularly interests you?

I’d stretch my own period feel back a little earlier to encapsulate the Regency/Georgian period, too. Both that and the Victorian era just have so many plot possibilities, you can have endless fun stretching around the borders of history and playing with the stereotypes of the period. It was the time when the Great was slipped in before the Britain, and there’s still a lot of nostalgia for that period in the UK. I think it’s a historical fascination that stretches beyond just my own – you only have to look at the popularity on television of costume dramas, which are invariably set in the world of Jane Austin/Dickens, or subtly aping them in TV series like Tipping the Velvet (from Sarah Waters’ book, of course). When you get into the military side of things, there’s Sharpe’s Company, Hornblower, Patrick O'Brian’s Jack Aubrey and Stephen Maturin characters. All books. All TV series or movies, too.

6) What advice would you give to writers wanting to break in to Science Fiction writing?

I think the best advice is just keep at it, book after book, getting better with each work, published or no, and avoid anything that distracts from the actual tedious act of locking yourself away from the world and just writing it out (such as writers’ circles, hobby magazines on writing from WH Smith, and writer’s classes: all useless, and all the kiss of death to any burgeoning artist).

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Book Info

Publication date

3rd September 2007


Stephen Hunt

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Harpercollins Publishers


588 pages


Science Fiction
Literary Fiction
eBook Favourites

Historical adventure



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