So my Dad and I tried an experiment. We both read The Court of the Air by Stephen Hunt at the same time on our Kindles. This was the Steampunk book I was talking about. Hunt has created an alternate version of our world with the British empire replaced by a country called Jackels, and this is the first of several stories set in this Steampunk world. The plot is rather complicated as two children get caught up in the political and military entanglements of this bizarre land which is both very similar to, and very different from England. You can get an idea of their separate stories in the trailer on the author's website.
Our initial reactions were rather different. I have to confess that I found it very confusing, the story hits the ground running and there is little in the way of explanation. My Dad on the other hand, loved the world building and compared it to a radio play which requires you to use your imagination to fill in the spaces. We both liked the Steam-men who are steam powered robots who seem to have their own nation-state and religion and get dragged into the conflict in the book.
By the end of the book I was still confused and probably won't be rushing to try any of the other books. Dad enjoyed the book more than I did but was frustrated by the unresolved loose ends. He will be carrying on with the series so may find the answers to some of the mysteries that baffled me.
All in all an interesting experiment. By coincidence the book Dad finished just before starting this was Ian M Banks' Surface Detail which was the book I read next. So notes on that to follow.