Sailor of the Skysea by A.C.F. Crawford – Book Review [Bane of Kings]

Sailor of the Skysea

Bane of Kings reviews the self-published novel Sailor of the Skysea, by A.C.F. Crawford. 

“An interesting, confident adventure story that makes my experience with self-published novels continue to be successful.” ~The Founding Fields

This Review Has Been Updated At the Request of the Author with recent cover art.

If you’ll remember, earlier this week, I reviewed Alexander McKinney’s Keystones: Altered Destinies, another self-published book, and it seems that I got requests to review two in quick succession with Sailor of the Skysea. However, it is clear that right from the start, both are very different books. Whilst McKinney’s is sci-fi with a touch of superheroism, Crawford’s tale is not quite science fiction despite the fact that the world is a planet that seems to have lost contact with other civilizations and regressed backward to a post-colonial era, and it as a result seems more like a fantasy novel, but not one that you’d come to expect from a genre filled with novels from the likes of George RR Martin, Tolkien and Sanderson. Whilst Crawford may not reach those heights, his first book is a fairly strong read – and it’s also something that you shouldn’t judge by its cover, for it is far from Young Adult as the cover implies.

Hardened sailor Ytzak Anan is an outsider. The color of his skin holds him back in a brutal, post-colonial world. And now his dreams of captaining his own ship, along with all his savings, have been stolen by a faithless lover.

Up a mighty river and out to sea once again, Ytzak searches for meaning and a new start. But the cruelties of ruthless men dog his steps, and mysterious forces seem to be guiding his journey for purposes unknown…

In this explosive debut, author A. C. F. Crawford has created something new in the realm of fantasy. 

From high-seas adventure to a climactic clash with a malevolent autocrat, from back alley brawls to arcane shamanic sorcery, Sailor of the Skysea explores a mythical world with a truly American feel.

Racial issues are the key theme of Sailor of the Skysea, it has several elements of inspiration from a darker period of American History, but it’s still very clearly an fantasy tale  in a different setting that you probably won’t have seen before in this genre. The post-colonial world allows for a very interesting backdrop, and the various adventures partaken in by the main character is pretty engaging – and the book moves along at a fairly swift pace, with no obvious errors in the writing.

Sailor of the SkyseaThe book itself tells the story of Ytzak Anan, whose upbringing was, well – not very pleasant, to say the least, and despite being a successful fighter, he’s had several drawbacks, including a faithless lover and a father who’s never there. He’s certainly a well rounded character, never quite feeling in a position where he falls into the category of an invulnerable protagonist who seems to gain everything and have the centre of the universe revolve around him, but not really anything that stands out as too memorable or distinctive unfortunately , and the rest of the cast is virtually forgettable – however, that doesn’t stop the story from being pretty full with detail, and whilst you might not know enough about ships, Crawford eases you into the world with a way that doesn’t really feel like info-dumping, and manages to create a tale that will really draw you in.

The world itself is what makes Sailor of the Skysea unique. The Skysea region feels very unique, with a lot of effort put into its creation. If you have ever read a fantasy novel where you feel like you do not know enough about the world to become fully immersed in the story, then you’ll like Crawford’s book. The world building is pretty impressive here, and there’s never any real global scale threat to the world – but there are several high stakes involved in Ytzak’s character, giving Sailor of the Skysea a slightly different flavour from your standard ‘Great Evil’ fantasy.

The action is pretty strong, and there are some quite varied fight scenes in here and you never feel like you’re feeling the same repetitive sequences told over and over again in a different place. Crawford writes with confidence, compelling the story forward and creating an interesting enough adventure to compel you to keep reading, for there’s a satisfying ending, and whilst there is no cliffhanger, there’s certainly room for a return to the Skysea region.

VERDICT: 3/5

Milo, aka Bane of Kings, is a SFF/Comic reader, and watches a lot of TV. His favourite authors are Neil Gaiman, China Mieville, Jim Butcher, Brandon Sanderson & Iain M. Banks, whilst his favourite TV shows are Battlestar Galactica (2003), Person Of Interest, Firefly, Game of Thrones, & Buffy the Vampire Slayer

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