Land of Mist and Snow
Debra Doyle & James D. MacDonald
Eos, Dec 2006, $7.99, 320 pp
When his ship burned, Lieutenant John Nevis files papers for the War Department while waiting to get a new seagoing assignment. In 1863 he is ordered to take possession of Rodman guns and take them to his new posting as head of the gunnery department of the USS Nicodemus. He is taken to the Naval Experimental shipyard in Thule near the Artic Circle, a place shrouded in secrecy. When he spots the Nicodemus he sees no energy source to make the ship move; yet it goes faster, and with more agility then any ship in the union.
The captain William M. R. Sharp has found a way to bind an air elemental to his will so that it is what causes the ship to move at great speed and shift momentum at a moment’s notice. The only woman on board the ship, Miss Columbia Abrams, acts as a conduit giving Nicodemus commands in the captain’s name. Their mission is to catch the blockade runners and commence traders who want to destroy the union blockade of the Confederacy. However, the confederacy now has a similar ship the Alecto fueled by blood sacrifices and it is determined to destroy the Nicodemus but even though Nicodemus hates the captain for the enslavement it hates Alecto more; with Columbia and John’s help the elemental will do its best to defeat evil personified.
Combining Horatio Alger and the alternate history works of Harry Turtledove, readers will have a good idea what LAND OF MIST AND SNOW is all about. Magical ships run by bound elementals make this an exciting work full of action on the high seas. Although the romance between Johnny and Columbia seems to be a contrived subplot device to move the storyline in the direction the authors want it to go, the audience will thoroughly enjoy this original and entertaining tale.