Review Blog

Sep 20 2010

Quillblade by Ben Chandler

cover image

Voyages of the Flying Dragon Book 1. Random House, 2010.
(Age 11+) Lenis and Missy Clemens are twins, slaves aboard the airship Hiryu. They have unique powers as Bestia Keepers, being able to communicate telepathically with the strange creatures that power the ship. When the Captain steals the ship from the WarLord and takes it over the Wastelands, they both face enormous danger in their quest to save the daughter of the blue dragon, Apsilla, and keep the land from being taken over by Demons.
An adventure story with a lot of excitement, thrills and fights, this tale is a rewarding read. The idea of the Bestia powering an airship was the feature that made it stand out for me. I really liked the thought of small animals, rather reminiscent of cats, having the magical ability and enough energy to run engines and set things alight. The action is not too fierce for younger readers, although one scene with one of my favourite crewmembers was rather distressing, especially as it was totally unexpected.
Chandler combines steampunk with an oriental setting to make for an intriguing story. For people, like me, who are unfamiliar with Japanese names, the glossary at the end was helpful with identifying the Demons and Lilim. There is quite a large cast of characters, also with Japanese names, which took a while to sort through. However the twins Lenis and Missy are very well developed characters, as is Namei, the cabin girl. Their powers develop as they are chased across the Wastelands, and Chandler left enough intriguing hints about their origin and importance for the reader to look forward to discovering more about them in future books.
Quillblade is Chandler's debut book. It will have appeal for lovers of high fantasy or authors like Naomi Novak and her Temeraire series and I look forward to seeing how the series develops.
Pat Pledger

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