4 stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Nearly twenty years have passed since the attack that eradicated the royal family of Doldra and permanently damaged the keystone. Now the Void barrier is slowly fading. When it falls, nothing will stand between the southern kingdoms and the invading Elph hordes to the north.

Ben awakens with no memory of his past save for his own name and glimpses of a strange, alien world far different from Terrene. He finds a new home and life among the crew of the airship Sapphire. But his mysterious past may not stay buried forever…

Captain Slate Stohner failed to protect the royal family twenty years ago. Now he seeks atonement in the search for ancient relic with the power to restore the keystone and stabilize the barrier.

Jade Stohner feels stifled by her father’s over-protectiveness and rejected by the man she thought she loved. Little does she know of the destiny and choice that await her as the Sapphire’s crew find themselves at the center of a deadly plot for the control of Terrene…

RENEGAdE SKYFARER TAKES PLACE WITHIN AN IMAGINED WORLD THAT EQUALLY INCORPORATES FANTASY, HIGH ADVENTURE ANd STEAMPUNK.

Renegade Skyfarer take place within an imagined world that will equally incorporates fantasy, high adventure, and steampunk. It’s a fairly long book, but the short chapters make for easy reading. The prologue also contains a key “hook” of unanswered questions to pique the reader’s curiosity, and several ongoing mysteries are maintained throughout the story. I was especially intrigued by what is essentially a reversed “Narnia” subplot: the book begins and takes place within an imaginary world while dropping tantalizing hints about our own real world, setting it up to play a significant role as the story continues.

The book introduces a richly detailed universe with mostly organic world-building. The reader is shown a significant portion of Terrene while still leaving much to be explored in further installments of the series. The use of a character with memory loss, in particular, allows the reader to learn about this naturally as other characters must explain things to him. The story takes place within what is clearly a theistic universe (references to a divine “Author” abound), though the people inside it carry a variety of religious beliefs. I found the various cultures and political dynamics of Terrene quite interesting as well as the multiple sub-species of its dragon population. The “magic system” is also quite original—we see an older technology based on magical stones gradually giving way to steam power. This, in turn, is utilized in ways that go beyond what we’ve seen in actual history—personal vehicle propulsion, weaponry, etc.

The characters themselves are given a similarly vivid rendering, and their personal relationships play just as large a role in the story as the action elements. They also provide a stage to explore interwoven themes of love, loyalty, duty, sacrifice, etc, (these three in particular come up in the character arcs of Jade and her father). The narrative takes place from multiple points of view, which can be jarring at times, but offers an enlarged perspective. The juxtaposition of action with romance also gives the book significant crossover potential with both male and female audiences. These two strands actually complement each other—the opportunity to fall in love with the characters as people makes their actions and sacrifices all the more powerful and significant.

The opportunity to fall in love with the characters as people makes their actions and sacrifices all the more powerful and significant.

The narrative remains reasonably strong throughout, but one pitfall is that the book veers into over-explaining at times. There were also some instances where I would have preferred more direct language as well as a tightened focus on the story’s central plot. This became far less of an issue as the book got closer to its central climax, which was quite riveting and deeply significant. The driving theme of loyalty, duty, and sacrifice is brought to its final conclusion, and there are several unexpected revelations (I’ll say no more at this point lest I wander into spoiler territory). All in all, if you enjoy nautical-style (or in this case, aerial-style) high adventure, romance, and action, this book is definitely for you.

Content Ratings:

Heat: A love triangle—with all its attendant emotions—plays a significant role in the plot, and there are a few non-graphic hints of offscreen sex (one instance between a married couple, the other between the antagonist and his mistress).

Profanity: Minimal; also, a few uses of fictional expletives within the story’s imagined universe.

Violence: Has action-oriented violence that can become quite bloody at times but largely non-graphic.

Genre: Fantasy/Steampunk

Age recommendation: 15 and up due to violence and minor sexual elements.

Cost today: $2.99 on ebook, $17.00 on paperback.

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