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The author of the Silverwing trilogy has brought back the age of swashbuckling in this award-winning book, soon to be a motion picture. Only the ships, sailors, and pirates in this adventure are riding, not the high seas, but the even higher skies above them.
Matt Cruse is a cabin boy on the luxury airship Aurora. In this fantasy variant of the early twentieth-century, lighter-than-air craft rule the skies. And a boy whose father died while serving on the Aurora now flies in his place. Matt was literally born to fly and feels restless and almost panicky on land. He has no fear of heights, and he dreams of rising through the ranks until one day, somehow, he might even get to fly the Aurora himself.
But first, he has to rise above the rank of cabin boy. His big chance comes after his heroic actions in saving a sick old man in a sinking hot-air balloon. But the old man dies, raving about seeing some kind of wonderful winged creatures, and the promotion dies when a rich mans son steals the position Matt has earned. The hardest thing about resenting Bruce Lunardi is that hes really a decent fellow. And now Matts ability to cope with hard-to-please, rich passengers is stretched to the limit by the willful Miss Kate DeVries and her shrill chaperone.
But Matts problems have scarcely begun. Kate turns out to be the granddaughter of the dying balloonist, and her determination to see the mysterious creatures her grandfather wrote about can only mean trouble for Matt. Then a band of pirates swoops down in their sleek, black airship and bring pillage, murder, and shipwreck to the beloved Aurora. And then, after a crash-landing on a desert isle, just when it looks like everything is going to be OK, a fierce animal unknown to science and a band of deadly pirates join together to make the last quarter of the book almost unbearably intense.
At the center of it all is a resourceful, daring, active young hero whose fondest dreams and worst nightmares collide in the most interesting way. The grief he is trying not to feel, the love that he has for his ship, and the frankly shocking danger threatening everything he cares about are easy to feel as the story unfolds. At times, I felt horror and sadness as I read this book, but for the most part it was an exhilirating ride. I look forward to climbing aboard the sequel, Skybreaker.