cover image Bonds of Brass

Bonds of Brass

Emily Skrutskie. Del Rey, $27 (320p) ISBN 978-0-593-12889-3

Skrutskie (Hullmetal Girls) draws from classic adventure tales to create an action-packed space opera, the first in the Bloodright trilogy. When the Umber Empire conquers the Archon Empire, 10 year old Archonian Ettian is left a disenfranchised orphan. Seven years later, Ettian is a student pilot in the Umber Imperial Academy and nursing a crush on his roommate, Gal. The boys are inseparable, dancing on the edge of something more than friendship even after shocking truths about Gal’s past come to light: he is heir to the Umber throne. When Gal is targeted by their fellow classmates for his royal Umber blood, Ettian and Gal flee together. As the friends strike out on their own, Ettian must contend with conflicting loyalties, torn between Gal, his heritage, and a strange young woman named Wen who joins the adventure. Despite an out-of-the-blue twist at the end, Skrutskie’s sympathetic characters, perfectly-tuned pop-culture references, and harsh glimpses into the realities of empire and war keep the pages turning. This inspired tale will please fantasy fans and has cross-over YA appeal. Agent: Thao Le, Sandra Dijkstra Literary. (Apr.)