By Sea & Sky
The Sky Pirate Chronicles Book 1
by Antoine Bandele
Genre: Fantasy Adventure, Pirates
With no magic, no brawn, and no pirate crew, Zala seeks to steal back the one treasure that matters to her most: her husband.
To succeed she needs a ship—and not just any ship, but the latest, secret invention by the Vaaji Empire. An airship.
Zala will have to use her wits to overcome scoundrels and nobles alike on her journey through the clouds.
But if she's smart enough, she may just have what it takes to save her husband—and go down in history as the first sky pirate.
Delve into a pirate fantasy inspired by the West Indies, The Swahili Coast, and Arabia, where Zala will encounter ruthless raiders, arrogant aristocrats, and imperial secrets.
By Sea & Sky is Antoine Bandele’s sophomore novel, the first in the Sky Pirate Chronicles trilogy, a pirate fantasy.
I really enjoyed this unique fantasy novel. It's so rare to find a fantasy story that isn't set somewhere reminiscent of Europe, but this setting bears not the slightest resemblance to it. I grew up in East Africa, so when I read the blurb and saw that part of the setting was inspired by the Swahili coast, I was immediately intrigued. I could hardly wait to start the book, and I wasn't disappointed. It was really fun to see fantasy terms that were based on Swahili words, and to meet characters that don't look or act European. Actually, the characters' races was another of my favorite parts of the story. I can only think of a few other fantasies I've read that had non-white characters, and none at all in which none of the characters were white. (And why should we assume by default that people would have white skin in a totally different world, anyway?) A variety of human cultures and magical beings were represented, all of them distinct and well-developed. There were enough details about history, geography, government, and religion to make for some great worldbuilding without bogging the story down with them.
My personal preference is for more emphasis on characters' interpersonal relationships and less nonstop action, so some of the battle scenes seemed to drag on a bit, but that's just me. The story opens with a particularly long battle sequence, and while I might otherwise have been tempted to put the book down after a chapter or two of fighting, the lead character kept me turning pages. Her love and loyalty toward her husband, and her determination to get the ingredients for the medicine he desperately needs even when surrounded by battling pirates, make her a relatable character whom I couldn't help but care about.
The book could have used a better edit, with grammar and punctuation errors sprinkled throughout. But I'm an obsessive-compulsive proofreader, so these things jump out at me. The errors weren't bad enough that they'd be likely to bother most people. Overall, I recommend By Sea and Sky to anyone who likes action and adventure or fantasy in a refreshingly unique setting. (And I suggest flipping to the end of the book first to see a great drawing of the three main characters, if you want to be able to picture them clearly as you go adventuring with them.)
He lives in Los Angeles, CA with his girlfriend, where he produces work on YouTube for his own channel and others, such as JustKiddingFilms, Fanalysis, and more. During the summer he is a camp counselor. Whenever he has the time he’s writing his debut series: Tales from Esowon.
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