Meralda is a royally employed mage who specializes in the impossible and is aided by her assistant Mug, an "enchanted dandyleaf plant who sees the world through 29 bright eyes." Best. Sidekick. Ever. And Meralda herself is a strong, likable lead. She's brave and smart, yet believable.
Saving the Sammi is a short story featuring the same world and characters as the novel All the Paths of Shadow, but prior knowledge isn't needed (I haven't read the novel yet myself). It's an enjoyable adventure in a uniquely crafted world.
In the forward the author "warns" us to be ready to explore troubled skies, and in some stories that would engulf the full narrative. But this tale is gloriously steampunk, and revels in the details of Meralda's tinkering as much as in the adventure to come. It gives the story an unusual pace that none the less really works. At times it can get a little bogged down with technical details, but the combination of magic and technology is inventive and intriguing and the specifics and setbacks of Meralda's tinkering are vital into the plot so it's well worth the occasional slow passage. And when we do take to the skies it's every bit as simultaneously tense and exhilarating as promised.
I really liked Saving the Sammi and it's protagonists, and am excited to dive into their other adventures.