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Reviewed by Riley

sky-raiders

About Sky Raiders

First they flew their mysterious sky craft through the skies of Barit. Then they started attacking. Finally, they began to raid.

Garek’s one year of duty as a guard walking the walls of Garamundo was extended to two when the sky raiders appeared. Two long years away from home and his lover, Taya. When he finally returns, the town is empty. While Garek was protecting Garamundo, the sky raiders were taking their victims from his hometown.

Taya can’t bear looking into the night sky. All she can see is Barit, her home planet. Impossibly, the sky raiders have brought her and their other victims to Shadow, the planet that shadows her own, and looking up makes her aware of everything she’s lost. Garek is out there somewhere. She knows he’ll look, but he’ll never find her.

She and the other captives have to find a way to escape. Without the food and clothes the sky raiders bring them from their raids on Barit, they’ll starve on the almost barren wastes of Shadow. And when they’ve given the sky raiders enough of what they want, that’s exactly what the sky raiders will leave them to do.

What Taya doesn’t realize is she’ll have some help with her plan. Because Garek isn’t giving up on finding her. And he’s even more resourceful than she could ever have imagined.

Nothing is going to keep him from Taya. Not even space itself.

 

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Review of Sky Raiders

A new book from a favorite author is always exciting.  A new book in a brand new series – even better!

In Sky Raiders, Michelle Diener has crafted a wonderful new world – Barit.  The descriptions of walled cities, liege-based political divisions, farmers and crafters gives Barit a medieval feeling.  The sky raiders are just so out of place.  To the pre-industrial humans, the sky raiders with their flying ships and white lighting are powerful, mystical, and dangerous.

But there is something powerful, mystical and dangerous about some of the inhabitants of Barit.  Some have the ability to call the ‘Change’.  The ability to manipulate certain elements.  Air, water, earth.  That the low tech-talent is a threat to the technologically advanced sky raiders is not only ironic, but by redefining the balance between the adversaries, it is just.

Garek is one that can call the Change and he may be the one of the most powerful when he calls it.  This makes his life more complicated than he wants it to be.  It got him an extra year of conscripted service to Garamundo when all he wanted was to be with his love Taya.  While he was gone, Taya, along with many others, was taken by the sky raiders and now, all Garek wants is to find her and rescue her.

The romance of Garek and Taya began before the time of the book, so you don’t see that development except through memories of the characters.  But Taya and Garek are truly in love and will do anything to find each other.  They just happen to have a lot of other people along for the ride.  The lack of a developing romance did not bother me at all.  The well-established romance left room for the author to develop other aspects of the story: the setting, the people, the conflict.

The story of Sky Raiders is told from both Garek’s and Taya’s viewpoint, alternating between Garek’s heroic efforts to find and rescue her and Taya’s equally heroic struggle to escape from the sky raiders who are using their captives as slave labor.

The sky raiders need the slave labor because there is something they want but they cannot survive in the atmosphere of Barit or it’s sister world Shadow. When on planet, a raider must wear an awkward robotic suit.  Even their equipment breaks down quickly in the atmosphere.  This seems to be an extreme disadvantage, but typical of any technologically advanced society, they have the required arrogance needed to make them believe they can handle the disadvantages.

In addition to the struggle with the sky raiders, the people of Barit have their own problems to deal with.  It seems like a threat from the stars might unite all people to defend their world.  Not so on Barit.  The feudal-like system they live under works well as long as the lieges are strong and are able to command their people’s loyalty.  Power struggles among the lieges add to the problems the people of Barit must deal with.  One of the key characters, Aiden, is the heir apparent to one of the lieges.  His position is both a complication and an asset during the rescue of the people stolen by the sky raiders.  I like Aiden.  He added humor, perspective and some interesting facets to the tale.

There are also different races.  The Illy are the main race.  The sky raiders have enslaved Illy and Kardanx.  There are two major differences between these peoples.  The Kardanx have, in effect, bred out the Change ability, using cruel and bloody methods.  The second difference is in how they treat their women and that difference will cause conflicts between the Illy and Kardanx.

Among the Illy, strong women, like Taya, are not unusual.   And cultures that don’t treat women as equal or as less important than men, such as the Kardanx, are depicted as less than enlightened.  A secondary character, Min, the half-breed Kardanx-Illy, was generally as tough as Taya, and did not let any Kardanx get to her even though she feared them. The desirability of a strong woman as a leader is a theme that recurs several times.

The world that Michelle Diener has created in Sky Raiders is gratifyingly complex.  But it is not just the world of the Illy and Barit.  The sky raiders are out there in space.  What do they want?  And are there more of them?  There is so much going on this this book, you will find plenty to keep the pages turning.  The end was satisfying, while letting you know there is much more to the story.  I’ll be looking forward to the next chapter.

The author provided a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

 

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