4.7 90
by Kenneth Oppel

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A legendary ghost ship. An incredible treasure. A death-defying adventure.

Forty years ago, the airship Hyperion vanished with untold riches in its hold. Now, accompanied by heiress Kate de Vries and a mysterious gypsy, Matt Cruse is determined to recover the ship and its treasures. But 20,000 feet above the Earth's surface, pursued by those who

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A legendary ghost ship. An incredible treasure. A death-defying adventure.

Forty years ago, the airship Hyperion vanished with untold riches in its hold. Now, accompanied by heiress Kate de Vries and a mysterious gypsy, Matt Cruse is determined to recover the ship and its treasures. But 20,000 feet above the Earth's surface, pursued by those who have hunted the Hyperion since its disappearance, and surrounded by deadly high-altitude life forms, Matt and his companions soon find themselves fighting not only for the Hyperion—but for their very lives.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Matt Cruse returns in the fully imagined world first described in Airborn, for which PW said, "In crisp, precise prose, Oppel imagines an alternate past where zeppelins crowd the skies and luxury liners travel the air rather than the sea." Ages 12-up. (Jan.) Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.
KLIATT - Sherry Hoy
Matt Cruise and Kate de Vries are back. Matt is on an internship for his classes at the Airship Academy when the Hyperion is spotted. The Hyperion was the ship of an eccentric millionaire reported to have fabulous treasures on board. Matt and Kate team up with a gypsy girl with a key and a young handsome sky captain to pursue the Hyperion into the thin air above the normal limits for an airship. They soon discover strange creatures inhabit that region and that the treasure is a machine that produces the gas needed to fuel airships. (They also find out there is a load gold bullion hidden on board). This can be read independent of the first volume, but most readers will want to go back to pick up the "rest of the story." For its length, this is a surprisingly quick read, with fascinating characters, situations, and plot twists. Recommend it to those wanting something a bit different, but still with plenty of action.
Children's Literature - Jeanne K. Pettenati J.D.
Matt Cruse, a young student at the Airship Academy in Paris, takes off on a daring adventure to find his fortune aboard the ghost ship Hyperion. Listeners are transported to a world where airships rule the skies—luxury liners, cargo ships, pirate ships, and the mysterious Hyperion, where the tycoon Theodore Grinnell died with his fortune when the ship disappeared 40 years ago. Matt joins forces with his confident, outgoing society friend Kate de Vries, who costarred with him in the author's earlier adventure tale Airborn. These two hook up with Nadira, a gypsy girl whose pirate father gave her the key to the Hyperion before he went away, and Hal Slater, the captain of the ship that can take them high enough in the sky to reach the Hyperion. Bricks of gold, blueprints of untold futuristic machines, taxidermy specimens and more await Cruse and his companions as they seek riches and glory on the ill-fated ship. But as they get closer to the ship, they realize their coordinates are being tracked by pirates. From then on, it is an exciting race to the treasure, with many twists and turns on the way. This fast-paced story (on 10 CDs, with a total running time of 11 hours and 30 minutes), will thrill young and old listeners alike. Matt is a likable protagonist. The other characters come to life vividly through the actors' voices. Listeners will get swept up in the urgency of the action, where fate hangs in the balance of split-second decisions. The author has painted an exciting world where brave, clever, and honorable children can outsmart pirates and a dishonorable businessman. Just when listeners think all is lost, the author pulls a fast one, especially at the end of thestory. This unabridged audio book, enhanced with original music, will delight listeners in a car, at home or school. The recording is based on the author's 2006 book of the same name. Reviewer: Jeanne K. Pettenati, J.D.
In this sequel to Airborn, a winner of Canada's Governor General's Award and a Michael L. Printz Honor Book, 16-year-old Matt Cruse is now a student at the Airship Academy, studying to become an airship captain. In the exciting opening chapter, Matt helps navigate a zeppelin-like airship through a fierce typhoon and spots a legendary airship, the Hyperion, rumored to hold treasure as well as a rare collection of taxidermy. He and his girlfriend Kate de Vries, along with a mysterious gypsy girl who holds a key to the Hyperion, and a dashing young airship captain, head off together to the skies of frigid Skyberia to try to capture this ship and its riches, despite the dangerously high altitude at which it is flying. Other perils they must contend with include pirates who are also after the Hyperion and deadly high-altitude creatures that are like a cross between squids and electric eels. The action rarely flags in this old-fashioned adventure tale, set in an alternative universe in the earlier part of the 20th century, and readers, especially those who read Airborn, will enjoy the thrilling ride. KLIATT Codes: JS*—Exceptional book, recommended for junior and senior high school students. 2005, HarperCollins, Eos, 384p. illus., and Ages 12 to 18.
—Paula Rohrlick
School Library Journal
Gr 6-10-Oppel does it again! This action-packed sequel to Airborn (HarperCollins, 2004) starts with a bang and doesn't let up until the satisfying ending. Matt Cruse, now a student at the Airship Academy, finds himself training as a navigator aboard a worn out, tumbledown cargo airship piloted by a reckless captain. Flying through a typhoon at dangerously high altitudes, they see a ghost ship that set out 40 years before and was never seen again. The captain risks his life, the crew, and his ship as he tries to reach the Hyperion to claim the fortune in gold that's rumored to be aboard. His attempt fails after the crew is stricken with altitude sickness. Only Matt remembers the coordinates of where Hyperion was last seen. This knowledge plunges him and Kate, now a pilot in training herself, into a breakneck race against a pirate intent on getting to the riches. They find themselves aboard a new type of pressurized ship called Skybreaker piloted by Hal, a wealthy and dashing captain with designs on Kate. What they discover aboard Hyperion is a more fabulous treasure than any of them could have imagined. That is, if they survive to tell anyone about it. This worthy companion to Airborn maintains its roller-coaster thrills in true swashbuckling style.-Sharon Rawlins, Piscataway Public Library, NJ Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Matt Cruse, now 16 and a student at Airship Academy in Paris, is swept into another sky adventure even richer and more surprising than the one in Airborn (2004). When an airship assumed to have crashed 40 years ago is spotted in the skies, various people scramble to "salvage" it-reach it first and claim rights to all its cargo, which may include gold. Problem: It's floating higher than most airships can go, even buoyed by the mango-scented hydrium gas crucial to flying technology. Wealthy, spirited Kate (whom readers will recall from the first installment) joins Matt, cocky pilot Hal and gypsy girl Nadira (who's sometimes unfortunately exoticized) on a mission to reach the Hyperion. Criminals and the altitude bring suspense and danger, but the most entrancing obstacle is a species of previously undiscovered flying sky squid. The squid are key to salvaging the treasure, which may or may not be what it seems. Creative, compelling, nicely unpredictable and alive with nature and technology. (Fantasy. YA)

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By Kenneth Oppel


ISBN: 0-06-053227-0

Chapter One

The Devil's Fist

The storm boiled above the Indian ocean, a dark, bristling wall of cloud, blocking our passage west. We were still twenty miles off, but its high winds had been giving us a shake for the past half hour. Through the tall windows of the control car, I watched the horizon slew as the ship struggled to keep steady. The storm was warning us off, but the captain gave no order to change course.

We were half a day out of Jakarta, and our holds were supposed to be filled with rubber. But there'd been some mix-up, or crooked dealing, and we were flying empty. Captain Tritus was in a foul mood, his mouth clenching a cigarette on one side, and on the other, muttering darkly about how he was expected to pay and feed his crew on an empty belly. He'd managed to line up a cargo in Alexandria, and he needed to get us there fast.

"We'll clip her," he told his first officer, Mr. Curtis. "She's not got much power on her southern fringe. We'll sail right through."

Mr. Curtis nodded, but said nothing. He looked a little queasy, but then again, he always looked a little queasy. Anyone would, serving aboard the Flotsam under Tritus. The captain was a short, stocky man, with a greasy fringe of pale hair that jutted out beyond his hat. He was not much to look at, but he had Rumpelstiltskin's own temper, and when angry - which was often - his fist clenched and pounded the air, his barrel chest thrust forward, andhis orders shot out like a hound's bark. His crew tended to say as little as possible. They did as they were told and smoked sullenly, filling the control car with a permanent yellow pall. It looked like a waiting room in purgatory.

The control car was a cramped affair, without a separate navigation or wireless room. The navigator and I worked at a small table toward the back. I usually liked having a clear line of sight out the front windows, but right now, the view was not an encouraging one.

Flying into a storm, even its outer edges, did not seem like a good idea to me. And this was no ordinary tempest. Everyone on the bridge knew what it was: the Devil's Fist, a near-eternal typhoon that migrated about the North Indian basin year-round. She was infamous, and earned her name by striking airships out of the sky.

"Eyes on the compass, Mr. Cruse," the navigator, Mr. Domville, reminded me quietly.

"Sorry, sir." I checked the needle and reported our new heading. Mr. Domville made his swift markings on the chart. Our course was starting to look like the path of a drunken sailor, zigzagging as we fought the headwinds. They were shoving at us something terrible.

Through the glass observation panels in the floor, I looked down at the sea, nine hundred feet below us. Spume blew sideways off the high crests. Suddenly we were coming about again, and I watched the compass needle whirl to its new heading. Columbus himself would have had trouble charting a course in such weather.

"Two hundred and seventy-one degrees," I read out.

"Do you wish you were back in Paris, Mr. Cruse?" the navigator asked.

"I'm always happiest flying," I told him truthfully, for I was born in the air, and it was more home to me than earth.

"Well then, I wish I were back in Paris," Mr. Domville said, and gave me one of his rare grins.

Of all the crew, he was my favorite. Granted, there was little competition from the hot-tempered captain and his stodgy, surly officers, but Mr. Domville was cut from different cloth. He was a soft-spoken, bookish man, quite frail looking, really. His spectacles would not stay up on his nose, so he was in the habit of tilting his head higher to see. He had a dry cough, which I put down to all the smoke in the control car. I liked watching his hands fly across the charts, nimbly manipulating rulers and dividers. His skill gave me a new respect for the navigator's job, which, until now, I'd never taken much interest in. It was not flying. I wanted to pilot the ship, not scribble her movements on a scrap of paper. But while working with Mr. Domville, I'd finally realized there could be no destination without a navigator to set and chart a course.

I did feel sorry for him, serving aboard the Flotsam. It was a wreck of a cargo ship, running freight over Europa and the Orient. I wondered why Mr. Domville didn't seek out a better position. Luckily I only had to endure it for five more days.

All the first-year students at the Airship Academy had been shipped out on two-week training tours to study navigation. Some shipped on luxury liners, some on mail packets, some on barges and tugs. I'd had the misfortune of being placed on the Flotsam. The ship looked like it hadn't been refitted since the Flood, and it smelled like Noah's old boot. The crew's quarters were little more than hammocks slung alongside the keel catwalk, where your sleep was soured by the stench of oil and Aruba fuel. The hull looked like it had been patched with everything including cast-off trousers. The engines rattled. The food quite simply defied comprehension. Slopped onto the plate by the cook's rusty ladle, it looked like something that had already been chewed and rejected.

"Think of this as a character-building experience," Mr. Domville had told me at the first meal.

Why the illustrious Academy used the Flotsam as a training vessel I couldn't guess, unless they wanted to teach their students how to mutiny. Captain Tritus, I'm sure, was glad of the fee the Academy paid to place me on board. For a heap like the Flotsam, it might have made the difference between having enough fuel or not. It made me long for the Aurora, the airship liner where I used to work before starting my studies at the Academy. Now there was a ship, and Captain Walken knew how to run it, and take care of his crew.

When I looked out the window again, I wished I hadn't. We'd been making for the storm's southern flank, but now it seemed to be moving with us, spinning out its dark tendrils. I looked at Captain Tritus, waiting for him to change our heading. He said nothing.


Excerpted from Skybreaker by Kenneth Oppel Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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