Before that, there was witty repartee that wasn’t witty. The aristocrats were all boring. The most interesting character was the cat. There were naval battles fought in 3 dimensions because these sailing ships sailed the air. Lots of world building about living in spires with ‘habbles’ or habitats, but no explanation of why the surface was too dangerous to inhabit. The sailors also talk about the mist that goes almost down to the ground – was there a nuclear winter? – and how ships diving for a fallen ship gave a 50% chance of coming back at all, let alone intact.
Lets get back to the cat – apparently cats are intelligent (maybe bec of that maybe-a-nuke) and don’t speak English, but there are some humans who talk Cat. Cats have a complex society, but still behave like cats. No antrhopo-cats here. Well done, Mr. Butcher!
There are also non-Christians and not-Buddhists, among other religions.
After page 200, the pace picks up, the characters become a little more interesting, and I found myself skipping a lot of the ship scenes. They were eminently skip-able. Except for the one scene where almost all the sailors were ashore (a-spire?) and the Captain had to cook dinner. Oh deary me.
Based on the cover pic, I could not tell that this was an air-ship and not a sailing ship. I should have taken warning.