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Reviewed by Liz Konkel for Readers' Favorite
The Protectorate Wars: Born Hero by SA Shaffer is the first book in the Steampunk Adventure series. David's past is one of tragedy but he hasn't let his losses make him give up. When he was a teenager, an airship accident left him with a mechanical arm, paralyzed his mother, and killed his father. Now he does everything he can to care for his mother and follow his dreams so when he gets the opportunity to work as an aide for Representative Blythe, he sees his chance to chart a new path for his future. David quickly impresses with his political and historical knowledge which catches the attention of Blythe, who then places his complete trust in David until everything changes. When his colleagues start getting murdered in grotesque ways and his boss becomes the subject of slander, David uncovers a terrifying plot of corruption and betrayal connected to a mysterious man in the shadows. The story quickly turns into a tale of political corruption and murder which draws David into the investigation to catch a killer, somehow keep his job, and help his boss keep his name cleared.
David treats people with kindness and brings out the good in others while he never gives up, which is what makes him heroic. He is a bright and intelligent character who is still a little naive and trusting so when he enters into the world of the politician Blythe he is forced to see the dark underbelly. He stands out against the other characters for his genuine heart and gentle wonder in how he sees the world, which is a view that is slowly corrupted as his life becomes bleaker and corruption surrounds him. Shaffer uses David as a way to incite a change as his strength of heart goes above corruption and the honest integrity he has gives the story hope. At first, the tone is bright as he impresses his new boss with his quick thinking and knowledge but this idealistic impression of politics quickly dissolves as Shaffer delves into the inner workings of a political office and the secrets kept by his politician boss.
If you enjoy steampunk adventures, political intrigue, and plots of corruption then this epic tale by SA Shaffer is perfect for you. The world is steampunk so plenty of fun elements with airships and even air-taxis are woven into the setting. The story doesn't focus on the steampunk elements and keeps them in the background with full focus on the politically focused plot. The details are incredibly thorough with a history of the Fertile Plains providing a key role in how certain events occur. Shaffer's thorough eye for details and vivid society breathes life into this world while also giving a clear understanding of the characters. Shaffer explores what it means to be a hero and how it isn't exactly what you would think as David comes to understand his own strength when he takes on the detective role to find answers and claim justice. The Protectorate Wars: Born Hero is a story about political corruption told through a steampunk setting and a murder mystery with action, danger, and romance.