Friday, June 12, 2015

Reader's Review: "Sky Knight" by Sandra Harvey

Synopsis from Amazon

Taliah Storme is a sky knight, a protector of the Skylands. Armed with an airship and a full crew, her newest task should be a simple one: bring in the sky pirate captain, Erikson Roarke. Yet the mission proves to be more challenging than anticipated when Taliah finds herself stranded in the perilous Lowerlands with the criminal she was supposed to arrest. While dealing with the dangers of the surface world, Taliah also has to find a way to work with Erikson in order to return to the skies. Her conviction towards capturing the pirate begins to fade, however, when she uncovers strange incidents related to the Skylands. Now doubting her very purpose, Taliah plunges towards the truth, disregarding all warnings to stop searching for answers.

My Review:

"The most beautiful part of the Skylands was its sunrise..."

The first sentence of a novel is always most important—and Harvey nails it. Another important factor that is really difficult for a lot of writers is point of view—and she nailed it again.

The point of view is so strong that the reader becomes Taliah, the tenacious Sky Knight who always gets her target and is not afraid of a scuffle, who thinks living in the Skylands—powered by and dependent on the mysterious mineral fulminite—is infinitely preferable to crawling around the surface of the Lowlands—a place she'll only go in pursuit of her quarry.
Taliah receives a commission to chase down an elusive pirate who has become more myth than man—and her life will never be the same.

The descriptions in this book are fabulous. I felt my own breath catching in my throat during one scene in which the character is free-falling when an airship gets knocked down. I felt the grit in my teeth and smelled the stink of coal when Taliah descended to the Lowlands. I could hardly contain the emptiness I felt when one of her good friends dies.

The characters, too, are lively and dynamic, from Rourke, who prides himself on never being caught and threatens to kill Taliah upon their first meeting, to Taliah herself, "the coarsest woman on the planet"—indeed, out of all the swearing that happens in this book, I think most of it is from Taliah. But the characters are intriguing and energetic--I got to the end and not only do I very much want to read more, but Harvey has indeed left more to discover, such as (but not limited to): Gizmo's backstory, more about the fantastically rich world she has established--I was reminded a lot of the atium mines and the social/political landscape of Brandon Sanderson's Mistborn, and I see that same potential to be a novel like that one, even on a greatly simplified (and thus higher-energy!) scale.

I had so much fun reading this! "Sky Knight" gets an "Upstream Writer Certified" FIVE STAR rating, and if you're the sort that likes a dieselpunk sort of vibe, with airships and sky pirates and plenty of battles to be had (and don't mind a generous sprinkling of "f-bombs" along the way) then this book is for you!