(2021/2022) Brandon Sanderson & Janci Patterson, £22.00, Gollancz,
hrdbk, 640pp, ISBN 978-1-399-60213-6
Skyward Flight collects three novellas Ė Sunreach, ReDawn, and Evershore - which were previously published in e-book format in 2021. These novellas complement the main novels in the Skyward series, namely Skyward, Starsight, and Cytonic which have all been published, with the final book in the series Ė Defiant Ė due in 2023. This collection came out last year (2021) in the US but now (2022) has its first Great Britain airing through Gollancz.
Basically, these novellas take some of the supporting characters from the novels and put them on centre-stage, so Sunreach is about Freyja Marten, or FM, as she is known, in a first-person tale, told over 160 pages in 16 chapters, plus an epilogue. Novella two concerns Alanik, and runs to 207 pages, over 23 chapters, and an epilogue. Finally, the last novella features the adventures of Jordan Weight, otherwise known as Jerkface in a tale lasting over 21 chapters, book-ended with a prologue and epilogue. Each novella starts with two illustrations, the first of these using the e-book cover. All of this adds up to another mighty tome (what else?) from the pen, or fingertips of Brandon Sanderson, this time joined in co-authoring duties with Janci Patterson. If Sanderson fans arenít delighted by having these stories in book form, they will be even more delighted to have 30 pages of deleted scenes with commentary by Sanderson.
I have to assume that anyone reading these novellas is familiar with the main books, and therefore Sandersonís world-building with all his different planets, and races, and motivations, and political intrigue, etc, etc, will be familiar to the reader as the main character, Spensa, is off-stage, or off-dimension leaving FM. Alanik and Jerkface to get on with it, and getting on with it means dealing with deadly peril, but growing in the process.
Thus, in Sunreach, FMís planet has a near fatal brush with a Delver who might have destroyed them, so in the absence of Spensa, FM and her friends must figure out a way to defend the planet, and could the answer lie in the powers of some talking slugs? This novella follows on directly from the second novel. Starsight, with added characterisation, a smattering of romance and co-operation between species, but also a lot of political in-fighting and uncertainty about the path to take, and of course, there are battles.
In the second novella, ReDawn, the focus is on Alanik who has encountered a planet Ė Detritus - inhabited by humans who seem to be about to fall into a trap laid by the Superiority. If that wasnít bad enough, when she gets back to ReDawn it looks like the same trap is being laid for her own people. Therefore, she has to set old prejudices aside and work with Skyward Flight in a tale that allows Sanderson and Patterson to flex their world-building muscles and add some familiar faces into the mix.
Finally, in Evershore, itís up to Flight Leader Jorgen or Jerkface to step up to the plate as the government on Detritus has fallen apart, and if that wasnít bad enough, the alien race called the Kitsen get in touch wishing to return some humans they have, but can they be trusted? Well, surely aliens with a cute name like the Kitsen canít be all bad, well, there is only one way to find out, isnít there? Like the leads in the other novellas, Jorgen has to grow as a character if he is to deal with the demands on him from different sources from alien diplomacy to being a leader. Cleverly, this novella dovetails into Cytonic, the most recently published novel, which gives newbies a steer of the order in which to read the novels and novellas.
All-in-all, these three novellas are everything you would expect from Sanderson, with Patterson doing all the heavy-lifting. Recommended for fans of the series, if they havenít already devoured them in e-format, although Iím sure the book will look good on their Sanderson shelves.
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