The Last of the Sky Pirates is the fifth book (seventh chronologically) in The Edge Chronicles. It is the first book in the Rook trilogy. It was published in 2002.
Genre: Fantasy, Middle Grade
“Rook Barkwater lives in the network of sewer chambers beneath Undertown, the bustling main city of the Edgeworld. He dreams of becoming a librarian knight—one of those sent out to explore the mysteries of their world. Somewhere out there lie the secrets of the past—including the lost floating city of Sanctaphrax—and, maybe, hope for a future free from the fear of tyranny.
When his chance comes, Rook grabs it! Breaking all the rules, he sets out on a journey to the Free Glades and beyond. His luck and determination lead him from one peril to another until, buried in the heart of the Deepwoods, Rook encounters a mysterious character—the last sky pirate—and is thrust into a bold adventure that dares to challenge the might of the dreaded Guardians of the night…”
“Rook cocked his head to one side and concentrated on the gruff voice coming from the depths of the shadows. ‘What was that? Bloodoak what?’ the voice complained tetchily. ‘You must speak up!’
‘I said,’ he heard Stob replying in a sibilant stage-whisper, ‘that is an interesting charm you’re wearing. Bloodoak tooth, if I’m not mistaken—’
‘What?’ demanded the voice, and Rook caught the flash of something metallic. ‘What’s it got to do with you?’
Magda shook her head. ‘Surely that can’t be our contact,’ she said.
‘Indeed it’s not, missy,’ came a sing-song voice behind her. ‘I am.’ Both Magda and Rook turned to see a dumpy gnokgoblin wearing a long cape and head scarf, and carrying a covered basket on one of her stubby arms. Around her neck glinted an ornate pendant, the centre-piece of which was a glistening red tooth.”
“With a tremble and a sigh, the elegant Stormhornet rose from the platform. For a second, it hovered there, its sails fluttering and flight-weights swaying. Then, as the wind took it, Rook pulled on the pinner-rope and the skycraft suddenly came to life and surge upwards into the crisp morning air.
Nothing could have prepared Rook for the thrill which raced through his body as the skycraft climbed ever higher. Not the buoyant lecterns, nor riding the prowlgrins as they leaped from tree to tree—nor even his brief flight with Knuckle. This time, he was in control. The Stormhornet responded to his every movement, dipping and swooping, rising and looping, utterly obedient to his command. It was exhilarating. It was awesome.”
Recommended Age Range: 12+ (although be aware that there are a few scary/violent/creepy parts)
What I Liked:
One of the things I love about the book is all the little nods at the Twig trilogy that came before it chronologically. People, places, events…there’s even a character from the Quint trilogy that makes an appearance. It gives that extra little bit of nostalgia and recognition.
This book is simply packed with Stuff That Happens. I’ve read the series before, so I recognize the fact that Stewart is actually setting a lot of things up (something that is lacking from the first two trilogies) for the other two books of the Rook trilogy . The Rook trilogy is more connected together, I think, more cohesive, than the other two, and this makes for a thrilling read when you start with the first book in this trilogy and continue on.
The characters in this book are slightly more nuanced than the ones that came before it. They’re not as compartmentalized into separate categories, Hekkle and Xanth especially.
What I Didn’t Like:
Because this book is so full of things getting explained and set up, it does tend to drag a bit. Rook doesn’t encounter the last sky pirate until the last third of the book (but it is an awesome last third).
The Last of the Sky Pirates is one of the more detailed Edge books, with the promise of more action to come in the rest of the Rook trilogy. It has three-dimensional characters, even more new places that add to Stewart’s worldbuilding, and simple fun enjoyment.
Coming Up Next: Vox