Airs of Night and Sea
Ace, Jan 2009, $7.99
There is trouble brewing in the Duchy of Oc as Duke William is obsessing over riding a flying magical horse; a feat only women are capable of doing. He thinks that with the potion he is taking that gives him breasts, a beardless face, and a female shape he will be able to ride his steed Diamond. He has cut back on funds to the Academy of Air run by women who train young girls to ride the flying horses in service of the duchy.
He sends his militia to the Academy of Air to spy on the people who reside there. Mistress Philippa Winter is in hiding from the duke, who wants to punish her for her transgression. He kidnaps the Kree trainee Amelia from the school as a hostage believing that will force Philippe out of hiding. Larkyn “Lark Hamley, flies to Kree to tell Amelia’s father what the Duke has done to his daughter. A warship attacks the duchy’s harbor and it looks like war is coming between Kree and Isamar as the people are divided between supporting the duke and deposing the duke. Lark tries to defuse the situation to keep the Academy of Air from being destroyed.
Lark might not be an aristocrat like the rest of the trainees attending the Academy, but she has more inner strength and fortitude than the other students. She believes she must act as the duchy faces a lot of issues in THE AIR OF NIGHT AND SEA. William is actually the key as he forces events. Some will say he is evil while others believe he is nsane as he ignores his responsibilities to the duchy to purse his obsession, but when people turn against him he seeks revenge. He can no longer care for the common good, but ironically is in charge. Thus Toby Bishop raises a fascinating question of what to do with a leader who is incapable of rational leading in this fabulous fantasy.