Adventure Books Military Science Fiction

Sky Knights – More “young adult” style than I remembered from the rest of the series but nevertheless a fairly good continuation of the Spirit of Empire series.

Sky Knights (Spirit of Empire #4) by Lawrence White
My rating: 7 out of 10 stars

Sky Knights“The knight looked in horror as blood ran down his sword from an invisible creature. Before he could swing again, strong arms seized him and warm, fetid breath filled his nostrils. Claws penetrated his chainmail and tore into his flesh, the injuries so severe he did not yet feel the pain. Sharp teeth, followed by the dark, mottled face of a creature from hell materialized inches away, its amber eyes staring into his own in triumph. A feeling of doom engulfed him, then his world faded to black.”

The people of Tranxte, a world of castles and knights, fight a hopeless battle against gleasons, the most feared creatures in the galaxy. 

Rescued by strangers from the stars, the Empire promises Sir Galborae that one day he will return at the head of an army to save his people.

Sky Knights is his story . . .

Well, it was indeed a long time since I read the first books in this series. Okay, okay, “long” is perhaps a relative term but when I looked up the date when I read the first book, Last of The Chosen, I found that it was 2011. That was the year when I joined Goodreads and the year when my interest in reading books was rekindled. I remember thinking these books were just great and I was quite sorry when the series ended or at least no more books came out. Needless to say I was quite eager to dig into this book when I found out it was a new book in the Spirit of Empire Series.

I did indeed enjoy this book. However, at the same time it was, well, not exactly what I expected and perhaps a reminder of how we humans change with time and, unfortunately, how we grow older, get more experienced and with more experience, again unfortunately, it becomes more difficult to get those easy fixes of enjoyment. Okay, okay I am digressing a bit here.

Anyway, what I am trying to say is that I am sure that 4 years ago I would probably have rated this book a full set of stars. Today I give it a solid above average but I also put it solidly in the “young adult” category. It is a good book, fairly well written, with a lot of adventure. The author states that it is not necessary to have read the previous book in the series before reading this and I would say that he is essentially correct but I also have to say that it would indeed be an advantage if the reader had actually read the previous books to get a better understanding of the whole picture and some parts of the story.

It is a nice story indeed which weaves together two worlds, one “emerging” world and the empire. I like stories where people, generally some unsuspecting human, discovers that there is more to their world than the end of the visible horizon. This time we are talking, not about the humans with a reasonable grasp of science, but of a medieval world far far from Earth. Having said that, the destiny of Earth, the Empire and this medieval world are nicely woven together in this enjoyable adventure story.

If you are hoping for a high tech story with star ships slugging it out then you are likely to not be so entertained by this book. If you are into pure adventure, a interesting mixture of old and new, the struggles of an “old” world having to adapt to a new reality, lots of emotions and a fair bit of romance, all written in a fairly simple young adult style, well then this book will probably entertain you…a lot

I keep coming back to the fact that, in my opinion, the book is of the “young adult” category. The book is somewhat simplistic in a fair amount of things. People are “reasoned” into abandoning centuries of tradition, not to mention accepting science thousands of years ahead of them, in a very simplistic way. Sometimes it happens over the course of a few pages. The tactics, the science and the general ways things are done are pretty loosely founded in any actual logic or science. A lot of these actions and the justifications of the actions are more founded more in emotions and hunches than anything else.

Now do not get me wrong. This book is nothing like the works of, for instance, Saxon Andrew, where people are “shown the light” with a few firework displays from a few (millions) distinctly coloured ships with near magical capabilities. This book is a lot more intelligent and have a lot more depth than that.

During the first third of the book I was actually getting a bit disappointed since I felt that it was rushing over a lot of the opportunities of delving into the medieval illiterate meets far future space traveling aliens. I felt that things just went too quickly between first encounter and acceptance of the new reality. During the second third of the book I got more at ease with the style of the book though and regardless of my reservations this book is really a good adventure story with plenty of heroes and damsels in distress.

The last third of the book is quite a change of pace compared to the first two thirds. Well, the word “pace” is perhaps not the right choice since the pace or speed is fairly well kept up throughout the book but in the last third of the book the story ties more and more together with the previous three books and here it takes on more of a sci-fi nature in that we move temporarily away from the previously mentioned medieval world to a world of true sci-fi horrors. That is not to say that we leave Tranxte. Far from it. Everything in the story, whether it is on Tranxte or not, leads back to Tranxte eventually. If not right away, so in the future.

On the whole the story is reasonably original and fairly well executed. It ties quite well into the rest of the series without actually being an instalment directly in the story arc of the previous books. The end do indeed bring the actual story of the book to a conclusion although it also leaves the door, perhaps not wide open but still open, for a continuation. The author also claims that there is a fifth book on the way and that this one would be the end of the series. Personally I am looking forward to that book. Especially since [warning, mild spoiler ahead] the author moved time a few hundred years ahead in the last few pages of this book.

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