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Clash of the Sky Galleons: Edge Chronicles 9    by Paul Stewart & Chris Riddell order for
Clash of the Sky Galleons
by Paul Stewart
Order:  USA  Can
David Fickling Books, 2007 (2006)
* * *   Reviewed by J. A. Kaszuba Locke

Paul Stewart & Chris Riddell take readers again to the Edge cliff, Undertown, the Deepwoods, and Open Sky in Clash of the Sky Galleons, ninth in The Edge Chronicles. Readers are offered delicacies such as woodonions, glade oats, and onion porridge, while 'rosy heartapple' trees yield juicy yet deadly fruit. Among inhabitants good and bad are wigwigs, soft, and fluffy in appearance but with deadly jaws; gentle and noble banderbears; warmhearted woodelves; and the crafty Leagues and their masters, in constant battle with sky pirates.

Quint Verginix leaves the Knight Academy to serve his father Wind Jackal on skyship Galerider. After hearing rumors that his treacherous ex-quartermaster Turbot Smeal is not dead, Captain Jackal is bent on vengeance - Smeal was responsible for the deaths of Wind Jackal's wife and children, other than Quint. Dark-eyed Mistress Maris Pallitax accompanies Quint and his father, and the newest crew member is the Stone Pilot, 'oblivious to all around her, concealed inside the tall conical hood and fireproof robing which she never removes', tending the skyship's important flight rock. Action begins immediately with Captain Jackal and Quint hooked to tolley ropes as the skyship is anchored to a jutting Sanctaphrax rock. Father and son carefully maneuver the ledges in turbulent wind and enter a 'narrow fissure in the cliff face', only to discover a trap - they battle millions of glisters, microscopic creatures with papery wings which feed on emotions.

In Undertown, dashing sky pirate Thaw Daggerslash seeks the command of a skyship under the auspices of Tarry Vine Tavern master Glaviel Glynter, who rakes in riches by sponsoring sky pirates. Daggerslash had hoped for much more than a sky barge, a crew of one, and fifty gold pieces. But he accepts the offer. The Tarry Vine Tavern is a hostel to skyship captains, and eventually houses Wind Jackal and crew, as the Galerider undergoes repairs. To cover the cost, Jackal bargains with the yardmaster to deliver a consignment of bloodoak timber, and a second bargain to deliver a cargo of candle-wax to the Great Shryke Slave Market. Before the Galerider launches for the Deepwoods to pick up the precious bloodoak timber, Captain Jackal engages the services of waif Menisculis, who can read minds.

Wind and Quint receive a mysterious message, directing them to the Sluice Tower. Sensing a trap, the waif aids his employer in tracking the sender. When the crew begin their voyage to the Deepwoods, a wrenching storm sends the Galerider 'pitching and rattling as though the whole vessel had been clasped in the jaws of a vast sky monster'. Quint and Maris are forced to tether themselves to a tree, as the Galerider splits off into Great Sky. Quint warns Maris that 'out there in the Deepwoods, nothing is what it seems ... as cute as creatures may be and as beautiful as the woods may look ... do not touch nor eat anything.' They must climb to the top of a very tall ironwood pine to light a beacon 'on the centuries old tree'.

Though part of a series, this episode can be appreciated on its own. Riddell's detailed illustrations never cease to amaze, especially the cutaway of skyship Galerider. I highly recommend Clash of the Sky Galleons as the best of the best in The Edge Chronicles. And don't miss their delightful Far-Flung Adventures series either.

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