It doesn’t take much for me to consider a fantasy original. Base your fantasy world off of Eastern cultures? Original! Hell, even use Romans like the Codex Alera books? Reasonably original! Pretty much anything that doesn’t involve generic medieval kings and orders of wizards counts.
And then there’s Stephen Hunt’s The Court of the Air , which is sort of steampunk mixed with a Fairie story crossed with Lovecraft seasoned with pulp fiction trappings and maybe even a hint of Jack Vance. It’s the sort of story where an Amazonian archaeologist and a crab-girl can come swooping in on a zeppelin to rescue an orphan and a robot from a debonair assassin in a vast underground city, and that’s not the awesomest thing to happen.
The overall feeling you get from the book is that Hunt heard about Brust’s Cool Theory of Literature (”the object is to put as much cool stuff in the book as you can”) and went all-out cramming in as much cool stuff as he possibly could. And fuck if that doesn’t just turn out to work pretty well, because this is an insanely fun book, even though — or perhaps because — it’s got about three ingredients more than would be strictly necessary.
Highly recommended to people who like their fantasy fun but different, and very very cool.