Tuesday, May 19, 2009
Moth expected the Avatar to be crowded with crewmen, but instead found himself alone in the corridor, making his way toward the front of the ship. He'd already descended two ladders, because he knew the bridge hung low on the superstructure. The gentle thrum of the airship's engines made the metal floor and walls vibrate with a peculiar music. He wondered if the Skyhigh had gone to bed yet. Voices echoed up ahead. Moth followed the corridor, halting when he saw the bridge. A panoramic window looked out over what seemed like the entire world. Rendor stood in front of the glass, studying the moonlit mountains. Crews manned control consoles, keeping watch over the dials and levers. A man dressed in a dark uniform paced across the bridge, his hands behind his back. He caught a glimpse of Moth from the corner of his eye. "You?" The man cleared his throat. "Governor? Someone's here to see you." Surprised, Rendor turned from the window. Moth stepped onto the bridge. "I need to talk to you," said Moth. "It's important..." A sudden crash rocked the airship, knocking Moth to the floor. Outside the window the world began to spin. "Engine out!" someone cried. Rendor shouted. The Avatar lurched sideways, spilling Moth across the deck. "Port engine!" "Shut it down!" "Leveling out..." Moth struggled to rise. He saw Rendor holding onto a rail. The men at the consoles threw switches and cursed. Slowly, Moth felt the giant airship righting itself, but the engine noise was different now, and he had no idea what happened. "Moth!" yelled Rendor. "Get hold of something!" Moth scrambled for a nearby steam pipe. The floor had leveled, yet the Avatar kept spinning. Just as Moth pulled himself up, the giant window burst. Glass and metal showered the bridge. Wind howled through the gaping cavity. Moth wrapped his arms around the pipe, shocked to see something coming through the window. The screeching shadow fell on him in a frenzy of beating wings. Scaly, powerful arms swept him from the bridge. Moth screamed. He felt the rush of wind, saw the blur of horrified faces. A second later he was weightless with the stars above his head. In disbelief he watched the Avatar drifting away. ~Excerpt from Starfinder by John Marco Years ago I picked up a book called The Jackal of Nar, the first book of the Tyrants and Kings Trilogy, by a talented new author named John Marco, and I loved it. To this day it remains one of my favorite books. So when I was asked if I would review John's new YA book, "Starfinder", naturally I said yes... What if angels jealously guarded the skies against all who would dare to fly? The Skylords, the angelic-looking beings in John Marco’s new book "Starfinder" do just that. Moth, a young boy who lives in the city of Calio, has always dreamed of being a Skyknight and piloting the flying crafts created by Rendor, the Governor of the city and grandfather to his best friend Fiona. But after making a promise to his dying mentor Leroux, Moth crosses the mysterious, fog-laden Reach to save a friend and prevent a powerful device, the Starfinder, from getting into the hands of the Skylords. "Starfinder" is an interesting blend of steampunk and fantasy. The city of Calio is home to all the technological advances created by Rendor, mostly in the form of airships and the smaller ingenious flying craft-- known as the dragonfly-- that patrol the skies against the mostly forgotten threat of the Skylords. Across the Reach magic reigns and Moth and Fiona not only find familiar mythical creatures such as dragons, mermaids and centaurs, but also discover horrible sub-human creatures known as Redeemers and the Skylords themselves. Venturing through the Reach to find a sorcerer and save the long-time love of Leroux, Moth and Fiona prove to themselves, and the adults who doubt their abilities, that sometimes the faith of a child is the most powerful weapon of all. "Starfinder" is a straight-forward coming-of-age tale in many ways. Moth and Fiona both deal with feelings of inadequacy and abandonment and their adventure helps resolve the insecurities as well as show them that not all adults act without reason. "Starfinder's" point-of-view is definitely geared to adolescent kids who are feeling the desire to be independent while still seeking parental approval, and the novel's resolution will definitely appeal to kids who dream of proving themselves to the adults in their lives. I didn't fully appreciate YA fiction until I had my own kids. It has it's own rhythm and it's different from adult fiction because the transitions tend to be shorter-- in keeping with the attention span of the audience. I've read many books to my kids and have learned that drawn-out sequences and explanations will bore a younger audience. But don't let the YA style deter you from picking up good fantasy like "Starfinder" if the story sounds interesting to you. It finds a nice balance between a fast pace and imaginative world-building. It won't be for readers who prefer epic fantasy but it is wonderfully inventive and makes for a excellent bedtime book for fantasy-lovin' kids-- or adults who like a break from the profanity and sex so prevalent in adult fiction. ~As and added bonus, I have a copy of "Starfinder" to giveaway to one lucky winner, courtesy of Penguin Books. Either leave a comment here or email me at sqt1969@(nospam)gmail.com (just remove the "nospam" insert) under the header "Starfinder" to enter and I will randomly pick a winner by Wednesday June 3rd. Please be sure I can reach you easily. If I cannot reach a winner within 48 hours I will pass the book onto another entrant. Multiple entries will be disqualified. Open everywhere. Good luck!