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Airs Beneath the Moon: Book One of The Horsemistress Saga    by Toby Bishop order for
Airs Beneath the Moon
by Toby Bishop
Order:  USA  Can
Ace, 2006 (2006)
* *   Reviewed by Ricki Marking-Camuto

Toby Bishop starts off her Horsemistress Saga with Airs Beneath the Moon, which is reminiscent of many recent fantasies involving dragons. However, Bishop takes her fantasy trilogy in an unusual direction in that she weaves a tale of flying horses, a fantasy element little seen outside of Greek mythology.

Larkyn Hamley is a farm girl living with her three older brothers in the Uplands of the Duchy of Oc. Though Oc is famous for its winged horses, such a sight is unheard of in the Uplands until Lark rescues a mare that gives birth to a stunning, black, winged foal she names Tup. By the time the news reaches the Duke, Lark has already bonded with Tup, so she must attend the Academy of Air where she will learn how to ride a flying horse to serve the Duke. The Academy is in a tizzy about the Uplands girl and her cross-bred horse, making it difficult for Lark to fit in, a challenge she meets well. But even though some of the students' jeers may be sharp and many horsemistresses immediately write her off without seeing what she can do, what bothers Lark most is the interest the Duke's son and heir, William, shows in Tup. Things are hard for Lark and Tup, but there may be more problems for the duo than just passing their flying exams.

Airs Beneath the Moon is a must read for any female fantasy fan. All of Bishop's main female characters show a strength typically reserved for male fantasy characters. Lark has so much spunk that, even though the reader knows things must work out in the end, it is fun to see how she overcomes every obstacle thrown at her. Lark's best friend, Hester, comes from a completely different background than Lark, but is also strong in her own way. Another forceful character is Phillipa, second in command at the Academy of Air. Her dedication to her work and country is admirable, even as she looks the other way to keep Lark out of trouble with the other horsemistresses.

Even though the plot neatly resolves at the end of Airs Beneath the Moon, there is still plenty of growing that Lark needs to do, which leave limitless possibilities for the next installment. If the first book is any indication, The Horsemistress Saga promises to be an exciting ride.

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