You’ve kind of heard this story before, or elements of it. Young trainee in a new power, from a sheltered backwater land, gets caught up in a struggle against an implacable tyrannical foe sweeping all comers against it. Young trainee is talented, perhaps more than they know, but the opposition is led by a charismatic and implacably evil head who would stop at nothing to get what they want, including using a doomsday weapon to get the Macguffin first. Magic, battles, intrigue, adventure and full-color glorious epic as forces collide and the fate of a world hangs in the balance. Off the shelf components in some cases, maybe, but infused with a mixture of fun and adventure, such a combination can be darned entertaining.
Skyfarer is the debut novel by Joseph Brassey.
The worldbuilding drew me in hard and early in the novel. We need a word for this kind of setting, since here at Skiffy and Fanty one of my fellow bloggers, Kate Sherrod, recently reviewed An Alchemy of Masques and Mirrors. That novel’s universe features a set of floating continents in a Jovian planet’s atmosphere. Airships fly from continent to continent, with different cultures and polities on them. The roleplaying game Swashbucklers of the Seven Skies had a world like this, with a variety of layers of skies that islands from the small to continent sized drift in, and can be reached with ships made of a wood that defies gravity. And then there is the Dungeons and Dragons roleplaying game where one of the Elemental Planes, the Elemental Plane of Air, is mostly an empty sky dotted with floating islands of various sizes. The Larry Niven novels The Integral Trees and The Smoke Ring, set in a giant oxygen bearing atmosphere in free fall, is an early example of this.