8 books is a lot of ground to cover, so I'll just write my overall impressions I got from reading this
- It's not very well translated. Of course, the words flow okay, but no English book would have "..." as a word, like for example ' "..." Kieli remained silent'. I found it easy to let go of, however, and other than that the translations were very good.
- Kieli isn't much of a character. So far all we know is that she's shy and stubborn. I found it frustrating how it was sometimes portrayed that what she does is always right...I get that since it's her point of view it's allowed, but she rarely ever learns from and regrets her actions, and I thought that was frustrating.
- In fact, it seems like the less Kabei-san tries, the better characters are. As I mentioned before, Kieli is somewhat flat with no redeeming features, and Harvey, although better, is sometimes completely contradictory; he went from being gruff, to being less social, and then almost a chatterbox and so on. It's like he can't stick to one characterization. On the other hand, I found Joachim and Beatrix to be great characters. Although not really nice people, I thought they were more believable and entertaining to read about (Beatrix's absence for like 3 books...what!!)
- The setting is great. I really enjoy the industrial-era, wasteland feel of it. I thought that was done well.
So, er, that's it I guess! Apart from the characterization and some translation issues, I have no major nitpicks. As a whole, I think the book isn't very well written (it's probably better in the original Japanese, if only I could read that) but Kabei-san is a new author, and I think her work is great taking that into account. However, the story and plot are really great and it's a fun read overall.