i enjoyed the first two books a LOT, though i haven't started on the third yet - i think maybe the third wasn't out when i raced through the first two, so thanks for bringing this to my attention! the section in the first book with the play always sticks with me, and ANYTHING involving airships always gets my up-vote (when i was younger the edge chronicles were some of my favourite books because i was desperate to be a sky pirate).

it's interesting what you say about genre; i've read a lot of people classifying it partially as steampunk, which i think does fit to a certain extent, especially in the second book, but you're right in that it's difficult to label it satisfyingly. and senlin as a character (especially at the start) would fit wonderfully into a book like susanna clarke's jonathan strange & mr norrell; he has a very eighteenth-century temperament which is super fun when it comes into collision with the world that bancroft has created.