Airman, by Eoin Colfer (Hyperion, 2008)
In 1878, Conor Broekhart was born in a balloon at the Paris World’s Fair. Some said he was destined to fly.
Airman is the story of his early years in the fictional Saltee islands (off Ireland) and his survival of the treachery that thrusts him into a brutal prison. And his obsession with flight, which led to the impossible.
The novel is set in the age of balloons and early gliders, when the imaginations of many inventors looked ahead to heavier-than-air craft.
It’s written like a factual account, with reference to historical figures like Queen Victoria and Benjamin Disraeli. As such, it opens with a somewhat dry prologue to set the scene. If it was my first Eoin (pronounced Owen) Colfer novel I might have stopped there, but I decided to give chapter 1 a chance. Within two or three pages, I knew I’d be finishing this book.
Airman isn’t as funny as Mr. Colfer’s Artemis Fowl books, although it definitely has its moments. It’s meant for young adult readers, but carries enough depth to appeal to adults as well. Certain elements stretch reality a bit, but it’s fiction, after all. Swashbuckling fiction, at that.
I’ve enjoyed the Artemis Fowl series, and am happy to see there’ll be one more adventure: Artemis Fowl and the Last Guardian, releasing July 2012. He’s also released his first novel for adults, the crime caper Plugged.
[Book from my personal library.]