Ambrose, Nicholas J.: Ruby Celeste and the Ghost Armada (Ruby Celeste I) (2013)

Ruby Celeste
Cover art by Karri Klawiter

“You’ve met these two clowns, right? Reuben Evans, and Glim Peters. He pointed at each in turn, and the two men pulled cheesy grins. Peters even crossed his eyes. “What names, eh.”

“Says Mikhail,” Peters called. “Who names their kid Mikhail?”

“Ignore him,” Michail said to Francis. “He’s still sore his parents misspelled their feelings at having bore him as a child.”

“What’s that then?”


This word-play made me giggle. Ruby Celeste and the Ghost Armada has plenty of humour, plenty of action and a character who seems puffed up with his own importance, to say the least. Rhod Stein is always in the right and he can pretty much do what he wishes. Having had full control of his skyport – floating city – he seems to think that all he encounters will fall in with his plans. Not so.

Poor old Francis Paige is just not having a good day. Being kidnapped from down on earth, taken up into a floating city from which he might fall, ripped from his kidnapper and then chased and shot at is not something he is used to from home.

For having been through what he has, I think Francis pulled himself together quite well. I’m kind of like him. For a time I will bemoan whatever new thing it is that fate has thrown at me. Then I get sick of myself and get on with life as best I can. Francis’ experiences are a bit more extreme than any I have ever experienced. So I feel he deserves a few days to pull himself together.

In his need he finds support with Natasha Brady (the ship’s navigator and possibly the ship’s talk-to person). Natasha is the kind of person that listens and is able to see past angry and fearful expressions. Would that I could always do that. She is exactly what Francis needs to conquer his fears – quite understandable ones for a land-dweller.

We don’t get a whole lot of world-building, but there is some. The Ruby Celeste series is supposed to be a steam-punk universe. But it is not one with a great amount of technical explanations. There are a couple of unusual aspects to it. One of those is that the sky-vessel is powered by something called a Volum.

Like our “household” animals these Volums have been bred to serve the purpose humans want it for. At first I thought that the Volum must be in some sort of slave relationship to humans, but it seems the ones bred for the purpose are content as long as they are fed. I wonder if they have some effect on humans. Benjamin Thoroughgood seemed intensely interested in being with the creature, but whether that was “normal” for any person exposed to a Volum over time or if it was some character trait of Benjamin is impossible to say.

Ruby Celeste was the fourth character that was obvious in the novel. The Volum wasn’t. I just became interested in what it was. Ruby is what I would call a person who draws the attention of others. She isn’t physically intimidating, but that does not stop Ruby from being intimidating when she turns on her engines. Impulsive and stubborn are two words that fit her well. I am very stubborn myself but not exactly impulsive. I am, however, blessed with a son who is and that has brought a great many interesting experiences into my life – as any one who is associated with an impulsive person can attest to. Ruby has one quality that I treasure. She is able to admit when she is wrong and actually apologizes. Being the Captain does not stop her from “eating humble pie”. I both like her and am frustrated by her.

After reading book number one of the Ruby Celeste universe, I would have to say that I had fun reading it and loved the action and humour present.


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