Author: Jeff Minerd
Genre: MG/YA Fantasy
Age Group: Middle Grade and Up
Rating: 4,5 stars
Review copy provided by Enchanted Book Promotions in exchange for an honest review.
The Sailweaver’s Son combines traditional fantasy with a dash of steampunk and takes young readers to a unique world—Etherium. A world where mountains rise like islands above a sea of clouds and adventurers travel the sky in sail-driven airships.
When fifteen year-old Tak rescues the survivor of an airship destroyed by one of the giant flammable gas bubbles mysteriously appearing in the sky of Etherium, the authorities react like a flock of startled grekks.
Admiral Scud accuses Tak of sabotage and treason. Tak’s father grounds him for reckless airmanship. Rumors spread that the bubbles are weapons devised by the Gublins, a race of loathsome but ingenious underground creatures. The King’s advisors call for war, hoping to win much-needed Gublin coal.
To clear his name, solve the mystery, and prevent a misguided war, Tak must do what anyone knows is suicide—visit the Gublins and find out what they’re up to. When the wizard’s adopted daughter, an oddly beautiful and irksomely intelligent girl from the Eastern kingdoms, asks Tak to help her do just that, he can’t say no.
The adventure will take Tak from the deepest underground caves to a desperate battle on Etherium’s highest mountaintop. It will force him to face his worst fears, and to grow up faster than he expected.
When I was a child, I once read a fantasy book about airships. It was amazing, and for years afterward, I fantasized about a vast world where people could travel in airships, and cities existed in the clouds. The Sailweaver’s Son brought those memories back to me, and reminded me of that fantasy world I had once imagined – except this time around, it has some steampunk elements, and it’s called Etherium.
World building is one of the toughest aspects about writing fantasy novels. The sky is the limit, but if you provide no science as to why suddenly ships would be able to sail on the air, or why empires in the clouds exist, that will leave a void in your book. The author handles this well here – the reasons are explained without being too scientific. It’s kept simple and understandable, and gives the world, despite being a fantasy world, a certain sense of realism. The author also provided sufficient background on the history of Etherium without straying too far from the story.
Tak is an intriguing character. He’s accused of sabotage after an airship gets destroyed. If he wants to clear his name, Tak will need to visit the Gublins, ingenious creatures who dwell underground, find out how they’re involved in the air crash he got accused of, and what their ultimate plan is. Luckily, Tak isn’t alone on his journey, but it will force him to face who he truly is, and what choices he’s capable of making.
I liked Tak, but I also enjoyed the secondary characters, in particular Brieze. The writing was fluent, the story creative and imaginative, and I would definitely recommend this book to all middle graders, young adults, and even adults who enjoy fantasy fiction.