Before becoming the infamous sky pirate from The Techno Mage, Benedict Keenan was a disorderly drunkard from London Below—and in this spin-off series, his story is finally being told.
Straying from his dream of living like the nobles in the Upper Lands for far too long, Benedict takes on an easy mercenary job with a band of rogues to quickly get back on his feet. But when a surgeon from the Upper Lands—the sole survivor of a sky pirate attack—is found in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, Benedict is suddenly thrust into a dangerous high-stakes race against a poisonous alchemical infusion set to be released into the Great Lakes. What’s worse is that a man from Benedict’s past is at the center of it all. Can he foil the sky pirate’s plans and return to living his dream life, or will he find a new ambition?
For fans of Pirates of the Caribbean, Rise of the Sky Pirate is an action-packed steampunk adventure that reaches for the stars while saving the world along the way.
Release date: January 11th 2022
I was given a digital arc of this book to review on behalf of Rosie Amber’s book review team #RBRT. Thank you very much to Rosie and to the author, S.W. Raine.
Rise of the Sky Pirate is a prequel to The Techno Mage novel by this author. It tells the story of Benedict Keenan and takes place in an alternative contemporary steampunk world where airships with rigid balloons are powered by alchemical infusions, and where there are steam powered carriages on the ground. The worldbuilding in this novel is intriguing. There is now an Upper London and a Lower London with the more affluent people living in Upper London having decided to separate themselves from the commoners down below. This is the case all over the world, not just in London and the different levels are known as The Lands Below and the Upper Lands. Benedict, an orphan is from Lower London:
…the upper class separated worldwide by detaching entire cities from the ground via alchemical infusions, nobles and alchemists were no longer commonly seen wandering among the tech users in the filth and grime of the Lands Below.
When we meet Benedict Keenan, he has just escaped jail. He refers to his origins as making him:
a dirty tech user of an orphan.
His goal is to be seen as a nobleman and to move to the Upper Lands, hopefully sooner rather than later. He joins the crew of an airship on a rogue mission and quickly becomes an important crew member due to his many and varied skills.
Benedict is a lovable rogue, a slippery eel who can’t seem to be contained by the law authorities. He has escaped jail at the beginning of the story, and later we see him talk himself out of being incarcerated once again. He saves the life of Matthias, a concerned surgeon with a formal turn of phrase, whose only goal is to help people – yet he turns in Ben to the authorities in a moment of spite. The two eventually learn to trust one another and become friends.
Another close friend of Benedict’s is Kitch, a tart with a heart. She has been his friend from their shared orphanage days and looks after his clothes and other possessions for him when he’s in jail. She clearly cares deeply for him and they have become each other’s found family. I would have liked to see her play a larger role within the story, rather than being left behind in London.
Lady Catherine was Benedict’s beloved, but she died in a horrible incident caused by Captain Thomas Davies of the Gilded Cannon Rovers, a renowned sky pirate who has now become a formidable, frightening cyborg, with a red cybernetic eye and machinery for arms and hands.
Benedict still loves and misses Kate and vows to exact revenge on the cyborg pirate.
There are multiple locations in this story, which add interest, and there is plenty of fast-paced action between swashbuckling sky pirates and a plot to steal a mind altering alchemical infusion from a lab within a military building. There is also plenty of peril, torture, violence and mention of rape – but not done in a gratuitous way and not in any great detail, either.
I would recommend this novel to fans of YA steampunk stories and loveable rogues.
About the Author
Raine is Canadian, born and raised, and constantly moved in between Ontario and Quebec with her military family. She moved to Michigan, USA, in 2004, where she currently still resides with her husband and son.
She has always had a vivid imagination and loved reading and writing from a very young age. She took courses in Children’s Literature through ICL in Illinois, and published her debut New Adult Steampunk adventure in 2020. She has participated in NaNoWriMo for over a decade and is currently a Municipal Liaison for the Detroit region.