Airborn (Airborn Trilogy Series #1)

Airborn (Airborn Trilogy Series #1)

by Kenneth Oppel

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Sailing toward dawn, and I was perched atop the crow's nest, being the ship's eyes. We were two nights out of Sydney, and there'd been no weather to speak of so far. I was keeping watch on a dark stack of nimbus clouds off to the northwest, but we were leaving it far behind, and it looked to be smooth going all the way back to Lionsgate City. Like riding a cloud. . . .

Matt Cruse is a cabin boy on the Aurora, a huge airship that sails hundreds of feet above the ocean, ferrying wealthy passengers from city to city. It is the life Matt's always wanted; convinced he's lighter than air, he imagines himself as buoyant as the hydrium gas that powers his ship. One night he meets a dying balloonist who speaks of beautiful creatures drifting through the skies. It is only after Matt meets the balloonist's granddaughter that he realizes that the man's ravings may, in fact, have been true, and that the creatures are completely real and utterly mysterious.

In a swashbuckling adventure reminiscent of Jules Verne and Robert Louis Stevenson, Kenneth Oppel, author of the best-selling Silverwing trilogy, creates an imagined world in which the air is populated by transcontinental voyagers, pirates, and beings never before dreamed of by the humans who sail the skies.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780061968327
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 09/22/2009
Series: Airborn Trilogy Series , #1
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 544
Sales rank: 328,166
Lexile: 760L (what's this?)
File size: 651 KB
Age Range: 13 - 17 Years

About the Author

KENNETH OPPEL wrote his first novel at age fourteen and hasn’t looked back. His books include the Silverwing series, which has sold over a million copies around the world; Airborn, winner of a Governor General’s Award and the Michael L. Printz Award; and his latest, Inkling, which the New York Times called “astonishing.” Ken Oppel lives with his family in Toronto. You can find him online at and on Twitter at @kennethoppel.


Read an Excerpt

Airborn EPB

Chapter One
Ship's Eyes

Sailing toward dawn, and I was perched atop the crow's nest, being the ship's eyes. We were two nights out of Sydney, and there'd been no weather to speak of so far. I was keeping watch on a dark stack of nimbus clouds off to the northwest, but we were leaving it far behind, and it looked to be smooth going all the way back to Lionsgate City. Like riding a cloud.

The sky pulsed with stars. Some people say it makes them lonesome when they stare up at the night sky. I can't imagine why. There's no shortage of company. By now there's not a constellation I can't name. Orion. Lupus. Serpens. Hercules. Draco. My father taught me all their stories. So when I look up I see a galaxy of adventures and heroes and villains, all jostling together and trying to outdo one another, and I sometimes want to tell them to hush up and not distract me with their chatter. I've glimpsed all the stars ever discovered by astronomers, and plenty that haven't been. There're the planets to look at too, depending on the time of year. Venus. Mercury. Mars. And don't forget Old Man Moon. I know every crease and pockmark on that face of his.

My watch was almost at an end, and I was looking forward to climbing into my bunk, sliding under warm blankets and into a deep sleep. Even though it was only September and we were crossing the equator, it was still cool at night up in the crow's nest, parting the winds at seventy-five miles an hour. I was grateful for my fleece-lined coat.

Spyglass to my face, I slowly swept the heavens. Here at the Aurora's summit, shielded by a glass observation dome, I had a three-sixtyview of the sky around and above the ship. The lookout's job was to watch for weather changes and for other ships. Over the Pacificus, you didn't see much traffic, though earlier I'd caught the distant flicker of a freighter, ploughing the waves toward the Orient. But boats were no concern of ours. We sailed eight hundred feet above them.

The smell of fresh-baked bread wafted up to me. Far below, in the ship's kitchens, they were taking out the first loaves and rolls and cinnamon buns and croissants and Danishes. I inhaled deeply. A better smell than this I couldn't imagine, and my stomach gave a hungry twist. In a few minutes, Mr. Riddihoff would be climbing the ladder to take the watch, and I could swing past the kitchen and see if the ship's baker was willing to part with a bun or two. He almost always was.

A shooting star slit the sky. That made one hundred and six I'd seen this season; I'd been keeping track. Baz and I had a little contest going, and I was in the lead by twelve stars.

Then I saw it.

Or didn't see it. Because at first all I noticed was a blackness where stars should have been. I raised my spyglass again and, with the help of the moon, caught a glimpse.

It was a hot air balloon, hanging there in the night sky.

Its running lights weren't on, which was odd. The balloon was higher than us by about a hundred feet, drifting off our starboard bow. The burner came on suddenly, jetting blue flame to heat the air in the balloon's envelope for a few seconds. But I couldn't see anyone at the controls. They must have been set on a clockwork timer. Nobody was moving around in the gondola. It was deep and wide, big enough for a kind of sleeping cabin on one side, and plenty of storage underneath. I couldn't ever recall seeing a balloon this far out. I lifted the speaking tube to my mouth.

"Crow's nest reporting."

I waited a moment as my voice hurtled down through the tube, one hundred fifty feet to the control car suspended from the Aurora's belly.

"Go ahead, Mr. Cruse."

It was Captain Walken on watch tonight, and I was glad, for I much preferred him to the other officers. Some of them just called me "Cruse" or "boy," figuring I wasn't worth a "mister" on account of my age. But never the captain. To him I was always Mr. Cruse, and it got so that I'd almost started to think of myself as a mister. Whenever I was back in Lionsgate City on shore leave and my mother or sisters called me Matt, my own name sounded strange to me at first.

"Hot air balloon at one o'clock, maybe a half mile off, one hundred feet up."

"Thank you, Mr. Cruse." There was a pause, and I knew the captain would be looking out the enormous wraparound windows of the control car. Because it was set well back from the bow, its view of anything high overhead was limited. That's why there was always a watch posted in the forward crow's nest. The Aurora needed a set of eyes up top.

"Yes, I see it now. Well spotted, Mr. Cruse. Can you make out its markings? We'll train the light on it."

Mounted at the front of the control car was a powerful spotlight. Its beam cut a blazing swath through the night and struck the balloon. It was in a sorry state, withered and puckered. It was leaking, or maybe the burner wasn't working properly.

"The Endurance," I read into the speaking tube.

She looked like she'd endured a bit too much. Maybe a storm had punctured her envelope or bashed her about some.

And still no sign of the pilot in the gondola.

Along the length of the speaking tube I heard tinny murmurings from the control car as the captain conferred with the bridge officers.

"It's not on the flight plan," I heard Mr. Torbay, the navigator, say.

Airborn EPB. Copyright © by Kenneth Oppel. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

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Airborn 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 198 reviews.
MaddogMR More than 1 year ago
"Airborn" is a great book for young adults who like adventure stories. This book has a little bit of romance and a lot of adventure. I'd say "Airborn" is 5 out of 5. I was sad when I got close to the end of the book because I didn't want it to over, I wanted to keep reading. In "Airborn" Matt Cruse, a cabin boy among a passenger airliner meets a girl who is hot on the trail her grandfather set for to see what he saw. "Beautiful creatures". The lady's name is Kate de Vries. Kate and Matt become friends and Matt takes an interest in Kate's creatures and helps her on the quest of finding them.Kate had set up a camera hoping to catch a photograph of the creatures. But something happen in her favor. The crew and passengers are all in distress except for Kate de Vries.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I was required to read this book when I was in 6th grade, and I surprised myself by enjoying it as much as I did. I am now in 7th grade and need a book to read (if you knew me, you would know thar I am a total bookworm). I decided to reread this captivating book. Kenneth Opel entices the reader with unexpected turns in the plot and beatifully brings the characters to life with real personalities. This is the type of book that will make any good girl a naughy one by making her stay up reading under the covers with a flashligh. My advice; read it over the weekend or just don't get caught.
PlumPudding More than 1 year ago
What an adventure!! And what storytelling. :) Kenneth Oppel has a wonderful way with words--it is so easy to lose myself in this book. The imagery is stunning and all the actions and dialogue happen so smoothly and naturally. The characters were fresh and marvelous -- who can resist Matt? :3 All in all, I'm so glad I have finally found my way into this trilogy. It seems like it will be such a fun read. I can't wait to pick up the next one! :D
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This was a really really REALLY good book!!! The kind that you enjoy so much that you can't wait to get back to reading it and you think about it when you're not reading it. I was sad to finish it, but luckily, there's two more in the series. I'm now reading the sequel, Skybreaker, and yes, it is even better than Airborn!! Kenneth Oppel makes me wish I could fly on his wonderful airships, and his writing is so good that I can actually see and imagine them in my mind - the best kind of writing.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Matt Cruse has the perfect life. He is cabin boy aboard the airship Aurora. Then he encounters a dying man floating in the skies that speaks of a bird not yet discovered. Soon he will meet a girl with a story recorded in a very special diary which eventually brings them to a mysterious island infested with evil pirates and the very creatures that brought them there. You will soar high as Kenneth Oppel brings you into the air in this amazing book. Can you feel the wind in your face yet?
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
They 2nd book is skylander (i think) and the 3rd is starclimber. This series is fantastic! His style of writing transports you to the one who was born in the skies. :) hope this helps.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Airborn is the most creative book I have ever read! Just the right balance of adventure, mystery, and romance; Airborn and its sequels are sure to enspire hours of daydreaming filled with wonders of the mysterious sky.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The book was marvelous. I enjoyed every second of it and I could NOT put it down. :) It is action packed, romantic, thrilling, and a great read! Even though I was slighty dissapointed w\ the ending, I highly recommend it. Read it & you won't regret it :)
Reading360 More than 1 year ago
This book is amazing! I read more then half the book within 3 hours,over the summer.I was so hooked and this book turned me to adventure novels. I recommend this to anyone who has read any type of adventure or is even just getting used to it,because this book will change your reading habits!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
YES YOU SHOULD!!!!!!!!!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It's got this exciting life of daring chacters that are each to there own and grasp your heart in some way from the moment you meet them. Then just mixing it in with a heart pumping, page turning polt. This book is a winner all a round.
katedevries More than 1 year ago
After reading the first chapter i was hooked. There was excitment after every turn of the page. You feel like your right there throughout the entire adventure, right along with the action, love, and triumph. I believe this is movie material.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Wow, what a fantastic adventure. I was a little skeptical to read it as the cover didn''t seem very interesting, but after I started reading Airborn, I was enthusiatically entralled. Airborn brings together the ideas of Treasure Island and Treasure Planet for a gripping adventure. The descriptive, vivid writing of Kenneth Oppel makes the reader feel they are there experiencing all the ups and downs of the characters. I enjoyed accompanying Matt and Kate aboard the airship, Aurora, as they search for an uncharted species that Kate's grandfather had briefly documented before he died aboard a hotair balloon. The pirate, a shipwreck, a typhoon, jumping snakes, and a beautiful yet deadly uncharted species makes the book hard to put down. Bravo Mr. Oppel! Well done!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is very good in content and details. Tap yes if my revew was helpful!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Vivid writing and bold characters make this book a masterpiece. The lovable, realistic protagonist, matt cruse, is a cabin boy on a luxury airship. He was literally 'airborn'(you will understand what i mean when you read it). When he meets passenger kate de vries, a plucky girl determined to set her eyes on the beautiful creatures her dead grandfather wrote about, he gets involved in her quest. The two soon find themselves on a action-packed, swashbuckling adventure. Airborn is the first in a trilogy. The second book is Skybreaker and the third Starclimber. This trilogy is an alternate history of the early 1900s, in which matt goes on many adventures in the sky. I would recommend this fresh, fascinating read, and the entire series, to lovers of fantasy, action, historical fiction, science fiction, and mystery. As you can see, Oppels incorparates many different genres!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed this wonderful book. It is packed with lots of adventure and pulls you in right away!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This was an awesome book that i really enjoyed :) . I was really excited when i found out it was a series.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed it. The syle of writing made me never want to put it down. The love story is one that i couldnt stand. Not in a bad way when she would flirt with other guys i closed my book in the middle of class and was mad the rest of the day i advice you to keep reading the seriers.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is the best book i have ever read worth the 269 pages. I loved the ending and hated it because i didnt want it too end. I hope they make a second book. 1 book down 2 more to go in 3 days till school. : ) Best book everr!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! FTW gl me
mangagirl1068 More than 1 year ago
love this alt. history, jules verne type adverture! fantastic!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
*A male bat flies in.* Hello! I saw your post that you needed a mate. Ill be your mate...-tyler-
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is one the best books ive ever read! :)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Seriously, it was AWESOME!!!!!!!!!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book really caught my eye when i saw it...I was amazed how such a good book can be criticized soo horibly...I mean yeah it kinda talks too much about blimps and all the other parts of the ship...and is way too descriptive about his feelings sometimes but thats what makes a good book...thats why i give it a thumbs up and a five star rating