Thank you to Crispina Kemp for sending me an ARC of this book in return for an honest review.
Quick Review (read on for full review)
Learning to Fly is a captivating read. Entertaining and engaging, this perfectly-paced tale is historical fantasy on an epic scale. Well-written, and filled with colourful characters and rich, vivid descriptions, it’s impossible not to get pulled into the gripping story-telling. Highly recommended! 5 / 5
Summary (from Amazon)
Medievalist Neve is delighted to find herself surrounded by swirling colours and foot-stomping music in Regin-jarl’s mead hall… even if her presence is dependent on the memories of a banished angel.
Her vicarious entry to the past begins when, curious about the local offshore windfarm, she ventures down to Yalesham seafront.
“We buried Skimaskall there,” an unlikely-looking youth says.
“And Skimaskall is?”
“And you are…?”
“I’m Raesan, an angel… an elf… an Asar. And you are illegal, Lady Nineve, child of Constance Oath-breaker.”
Raesan offers to take her back to 1086 to identify her grandpa before he can spawn more illegal semi-divines… and there she is, hooked on the quest.
“Toli fitzMa, clearly you’re unacquainted with the role of squire. Humbly to serve his knight.”
“Oh, I know that, Sir Guy. But what’s to humble me? Those four years between us? Na, let’s make a deal. Say, the higher you rise, the lower I’ll bow. Does that satisfy, Sir Guy?”
(from Learning to Fly by Crispina Kemp, page 49)
I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to beta read this story, and I must say that I loved it from the very beginning. So, as you can imagine, I was very keen to write a review of it in the run-up to its release day.
Learning to Fly is a story set in the same world as the epic fantasy series The Spinner’s Game, by the same author. And, without a doubt, I loved this story as much as those. We have a quest, a journey of discovery, angels, dragons, mystery and suspense, action, romance, magic, monsters, knights, and plenty more besides…what else could you ask for?
Like The Spinner’s Game, Learning to Fly is full of things that I love, in general, but also things I enjoy reading about. So for me, this book is a perfect read.
The story is well-written, and the many threads, characters and locations are marvellously handled by the author. Like the stories that make up The Spinner’s Game, Learning to Fly is historical fantasy on an epic scale. It is complex without being complicated, and full of rich world-building. We have, in effect, a story within a story in Learning to Fly, where Anglo-Saxon and Norman history of the eleventh century is brought into sharp focus in one timeline and we have a modern tale of personal discovery and empowerment in the other.
I really liked Neve. She’s intelligent and sensible, and her story and journey is an interesting and engaging one. Neve’s a main character I can really get behind and root for. She won’t believe the things she’s told unless she can verify them from a reputable source, yet she can’t help but feel the pull of magic and possibility in the tales she hears, which is perfectly understandable and makes her relatable.
Apart from Neve, my favourite character was Rat, but I also liked the interplay between Guy and Toli – just who is the master and who is the squire? See my Favourite Quote above for a glimpse at the humour also to be found in the story. I liked that we got the opportunity to be briefly reacquainted with some old friends from The Spinner’s Game as well as get to better understand the person Raesen has become.
I really enjoyed the historical aspects of the story. The descriptions of people and places really brought the story to life and I could imagine each location with ease. And, the fantastical elements of the story blended in very well with the rest of the story to create a seamless narrative that kept me hooked until the very end.
If you like your historical fantasy on an epic scale, I can’t recommend this (as well as the five books of The Spinner’s Game) highly enough.
Find it on Amazon, where it will be released 1st April 2021.