In Review: Roar of Sky

A strong and fun read. Incredibly enjoyable.

Roar of Sky by Beth Cato

Published by Harper Voyager, October 18, 2018. Paperback of 448 pages at $16.99. Also available as an E-book.

Note: I read an advanced copy so anything may have changed by publication.

The cover: Ingrid Carmichael holds a bladed staff in her right hand, while her left hand rests comfortably on her hip. This would be a striking image of the hero if this were a close-up of her, but this frontpiece becomes absolutely dynamic with her standing near the lava flow of Kilauea. The character looks sensational and the setting is stellar. The author’s name is at the top of the book, a blurb from the Library Journal is to Ingrid’s right, and the book’s title is at the bottom. There’s no credit given for the artist who created this cover, but he or she clearly was not paid enough. This is a terrific tease of what’s to be found within. Overall grade: A

The premise: From the back cover, “Thanks to her geomantic magic, Ingrid has successfully eluded Amabassador Blum, the evil genius behind the plan to achieve world domination for the United Pacific. But using her powers has taken its toll: Ingrid’s body has been left severely weakened, and once again she is on the run with her friends Cy and Fenris. Hoping to learn more about her magical roots and the strength her bloodline carries, Ingrid makes her way across the Pacific to Hawaii, home to the ancient earth goddess Madame Pele. What she discovers in this paradise is not all all what she expects — but perhaps exactly what she needs to find the strength to face Blum. But Ambassador Blum comes from the same world of old magic. She is a kistune with near-mythic power. And if Ingrid cannot defeat her once and for all, she knows Blum will use that power to take the lives of everyone Ingrid holds dear before igniting a war that will bring the entire world to its knees.” This is the third book in a trilogy, so I am a bit concerned that I might be lost jumping into this saga in the final chapter. I am interested by the alternate history elements in this premise, as well as the magical elements. I’m very intrigued. Overall grade: B+

The characters: Ingrid Carmichael is the protagonist of the series and she’s lucky to be alive. In the previous book, Call of Fire, she did battle with another magic user which resulted in a massive earthquake in San Francisco. Oh, it’s the infamous earthquake of 1906. This little detail tells the reader that this is an alternate Earth, with some of the same events occurring, but for different reasons. Ingrid was injured and may never walk again, though her magic might be enough to get her to survive all of this book’s obstacles. She’s driven to win against Blum and her cronies, proving that Japan is not the friend that the United States believes it to be. Her voice is honest, her goals pure, and her love for her friends is absolute. She does not want to see anyone abused or killed. Ingrid is an incredibly enjoyable character to follow. Chief among her allies is Cy, who is introduced in pushing her along in a wheelchair. He has no magical abilities, but is devoted to Ingrid and her cause. Each cares immensely for the other, and their possible romance is a major arc to their characters. Why Cy is specifically on this journey is due to a family member assumed lost who might be helping the Japanese. Fenris Braun is the captain of the Palmetto Bug, the airship that transports Ingrid and Cy. He’s fun, fiesty, and kicks some major butt. He’s so strong a character that he could be the lead of his own novel. Making appearances as a possible ally is Theodore Roosevelt, who’s not the President, but someone who carries much clout in the U.S. and is assisting Ingrid and her friends to ensure that the country remains independent and is not swallowed by Japan. The antagonist of the novel is Ambassador Blum, a powerful magic user who is doing everything she can to stop Ingrid. The mention of her name causes distress to everyone. She does appear in this book and it’s in spectacular fashion. There are several other characters in this book, friend and foe, human and supernatural being, and all compliment the main cast well. Every character in this book is a joy. Overall grade: A+

The settings: The year is 1906 and is nothing like the world the reader knows. Alliances between world powers are very different and magic is real. The book opens in Hawaii as Ingrid seeks her supposed grandmother, the goddess Pele. Hawaii is overrun by the Japanese, who run the police force and cause difficulties for everyone, especially Ingrid. The book moves to California, which doesn’t have anything to do with cinema yet, but has plenty of places for villains and heroes to hide. The final setting takes place aboard the world’s largest airship, which is a fantastic Steampunk vehicle. The threat this ship posses is as immense as its size and what lies within it is very surprising. I enjoy books that tweak the familiar to make them into something new. Overall grade: A+

The action: The pacing of this book is solid, making action sequences, when the occur, thrilling. An official in Hawaii causes trouble for Ingrid and it’s a very intense scene with an explosive ending. The meeting with Pele is riveting since Ingrid and the reader don’t know what the goddess will do. The threat of soldiers is constant, as is being discovered by other magic users on the hunt for the protagonists. The final battle is fantastic, coming across as a Steampunk James Bond finale. One is never bored while reading this novel. Overall grade: A

The conclusion: The threat of this book, and the series, is dealt with and the survivors try to begin a normal life. However, the door is left partially open for more adventures. I would welcome them immensely. Overall grade: A

The final line: I did not read the first two books in this series, but easily fell into the novel and understood the characters, their situations, and this world due to Cato’s storytelling. I would definitely seek out other books by this author based on this sampling. This is a strong and fun read for those seeking magic and Steampunk on an alternate history Earth. Incredibly enjoyable. Overall grade: A

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Patrick Hayes was a contributor to the Comic Buyer's Guide for several years with "It's Bound to Happen!" and he's reviewed comics for TrekWeb and TrekCore. He's taught 8th graders English for 20 years and has taught high school English for five years and counting. He reads everything as often as he can, when not grading papers or looking up Star Trek, Star Wars, or Indiana Jones items online.
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