Az Gabrielson is a living paradox; a wingless boy born into a winged world. He struggles to live with dignity in a hallowed, ‘Airborne’ society that treats his winglessness as an embarrassing infirmity. Az feels an understandable affinity with the prehistoric Groundlings, who were also wingless and inhabited the dismal and abandoned earth. When the mysterious infrastructure that supports the sky-cities starts to malfunction, Az finds himself the ideal candidate to investigate what really lies beneath the clouds’
This is the first book in ‘The Clouded World’ Series.
This book is being explicitly marketed at fans of the fabulous Philips (Reeve and Pullman) and it does indeed touch upon some of the themes explored in their books. As in the ‘Mortal Engines’ series, Armory presents a re-imagined, scavenged world that has diverged dramatically from our own (technology is the catalyst in Mortal Engines, while here it the branching of human evolution) resulting in a deeply divided society and an incipient ‘class’ war between its highest and lowest tiers. Armory also alludes to the abuse of religious dogma, a theme that is explored so dazzlingly in ‘His Dark Materials’. However, I think that The Fledging of Az Gabrielson does have an appeal of its own; the story taps straight into that atavistic human desire to fly and there are some intriguing, ambiguous characters (I loved Mr Mordadson) who are often beautifully named (Ramona Orifielsdaughter Enochson!). It will be interesting to see how Amory takes this story forward and whether he chooses to distance himself from the inevitable comparisons.