It may be of interest to you to read my review of the previous book, The Radiant Warrior
And finally it comes: the war with the Mongols, first foretold within 20 pages of Book 1, arrives. Actually, the Mongols never invaded Poland in our timeline, but we’ll forgive that since it’s science fiction.
For being the ostensible climax of this series’ plot arch, the war gets surprisingly short shrift. This is, I think, the shortest book of the series, and the first part is pre-war, anyway. Frankowski gives the most attention to Conrad’s steamboats, which are heavily-armed warships that patrol the Vistula, slaying numbers of Mongols that couldn’t possibly exist at that point in history. Again, we’ll chalk it up to science fiction and let it go at that.
Interestingly, this book opens up a few minor subplots that will be addressed in later books, and more carefully explained in the prequel (Conrad’s Time Machine) that would follow more than ten years later. It also opens up a romantic subplot, as well as a variety of new technological/industrial strands that may or may not be of use later. In fact, this book seems to create more questions than it answers. Perhaps that’s a good thing.
So, as I’ve said, The Flying Warlord is a bit underwhelming as a climax, but taken in its context, it’s still a solid Stargard novel. When I first read it in the mid-90s, I was under the impression that it was the very last of the series—indeed, there was a sort of afterword to that effect, talking about Conrad’s eventual retirement, &c. I later learned that wasn’t the case, which helps to put things in context, and I would find that later books explain some of the oddly prescient remarks made in this one. A quick perusal at Amazon tells me I’m not the only one who was confused.
In summary, The Flying Warlord is another piece in the puzzle; it’s no better and no worse. If you like the series so far, you will of course want to read this one. At the very least, it (sort of) lays a big part of the plot to rest.