To create a world is to brush ones fingertips with the divine. I have never read anything by or really ever heard of David Dalglish, which I find slightly surprising since he is a fantasy author recognized as a USA Today Bestselling Author. Having now read one of his books, I find myself in firm belief that he deserves the honor. Skyborn is a beautiful story that captured my intellectual and emotion attention, drawing me into a world where Earth is no longer the same and magic is a beautiful mixture of science and fantasy.
In a place where the land as everyone knows it has been destroyed, mankind was lifted to the sky by benevolent gods who sought their continued existence to prevent them from being drowned by the water that has flooded the earth, destroying the demons who fought to eliminate all life. Now six islands are all that remain, floating thousands of feet in the air. Five islands surround Center, where the governing body of theotects receive divine help to create the necessary elements that keep the islands afloat, to bring comfort and convenience to the citizens and to allow man the ability to fly and engage in god-like battles where the very elements are their weapons. Bree and Kael have wanted to join the ranks of the seraphim ever since their parents were killed in battle defending their home from a rival island. When their hopes become a reality, they will take to the skies to seek their revenge and defend their home from all who would threaten it.
Dalglish wrote a spectacular first book in this new series. He created a great hook and executed a great lead that held my attention throughout while maintaining a complex plot and authentic character development. When I read the last page and put the book down I was in the prime place where all writers want their readers to be: with just the right amount of questions that I am committed to reading the rest of the books as they come out, yet not frustrated by a lack of information.
I mentioned above that this book invested me emotionally. This was one area in which I think Dalglish rose above the majority of authors. The book is written using third person limited, providing the reader with insight into one character at a time, namely Bree and Kael, the protagonists, but those insights provided a depth not every author achieves. He also took advantage of crucial moments in the plot where he infused the characters emotions with physical descriptions on a micro and macro scale that did much more showing than telling. The result was a melding of my imagination and the book on a deeper level than simply a story with me as its observer. It was a much more intimate angle, though not superior.
What Dalglish was a little less concrete with was the physical descriptions. This held no negative consequence against him, but it was different and perhaps lacking an important aspect of writing, i.e. detail and description, which many would say are essential to good storytelling. Dalglish did however provide great detail into the mechanics of things including how the seraphim wings worked and how they were able to fight with the elements, but he didn’t always give the most concrete images. Dalglish preferred brief descriptions of people, settings, and situations so as to keep my imagination active in creating the world for myself under his guidance. This did result in a slightly different feel while reading the book, though I didn’t mind in the slightest. What he did do was sacrifice defined detail for emotional connection, resulting in a greater awareness for what characters were feeling and going through all the while enhancing my interaction, allowing me to feel as if I were taking part in the construction of the world I was experiencing.
Overall, Dalglish’s work intrigues me. Having returned to the fantasy genre for some rest and relaxation I find myself discovering new authors with ideas that explore outside the traditional fantasy in one way or another, and it blows my mind. One of the reasons I began to explore other genres was because I felt fantasy was becoming too repetitive; essentially the same ideas being told in a different way under a different title. But Skyborn is just one of the books that has been expanding my perspective and making a whole different type of fantasy available for those like me who’ve been feeling burned out of the genre as a whole.
If anyone has any recommendations for other books that they feel push the boundaries of traditional fantasy, or even books that are on your summer reading list for this year, I would love to hear about them. Don’t be selfish; share them with me! I know I haven’t been the best at following up on recommendations in the past, but I’m hoping to do better now that I have a bit more time on my hands. Thanks for your recommendations in advance. Happy reading, all!