Ettian Nassun is a top student at the Military Academy. His pilot skills are unmatched, and when the recruits take to the skies he is the leader of the pack. Until one day when the rest of the flight students turn on his best friend and roommate, Gal Veres, and attempt an assassination during a flight exercise. Always the loyal friend, Ettian flies himself and Gal out of danger. When Gal reveals that he is the heir to the Umber Empire to Ettian, the Empire that colonized Ettian’s world 7 years ago and left him a homeless orphan, those loyalties are tested.
Now Gal and Ettian are off on a journey of adventure and discovery, one that will take them outside of Umber territory and into a foreign land. With Ettian’s sole goal being to return the Prince (and the man he loves) to his throne safely, the two comrades will take dangerous risks, meet new friends, make new enemies, and learn more about themselves along the way than they ever thought possible.
Bonds of Brass was a joy to read, and I was particularly impressed with the writing. THe book does not waste any time getting to the action, with the big bang (ahem!) of the story coming very early on. The author does not start off with an explanation of the setting, the history of the Empires, a retelling of war, or a description of the characters’ respective journeys. These things are all detailed, in time, but thankfully Emily Skrutskie went with the draw right away: the assassination attempt on the Prince – heir to the Umber throne, and the mystery surrounding the actions of the recruits. Ettian, the other main protagonist, is kept out of the loop and has no idea what is happening. His instincts kick in, and he saves Gal, eventually getting an explanation as to why his comrades want him dead.
Eventually, the reader learns everything they need to know about this world they have been thrust into; and, while there is a deep history there, I like how the author kept the setting itself on the light side. The story was fast-paced and whimsical, and throwing too much heavy stuff in there would have gummed up the works, in my opinion. Do not get me wrong, the book has its serious moments and there is plenty of drama but the space in between is filled with fun space flights, teenage hijinks, and self-exploration. Too much gravity (ahem!), and the rest of the story would just get pulled down with it. I cannot say enough about the writing, and I think the author made some great choices regarding story structure, pacing, and use of plot devices that really paid off and made the book what it is.
Did I mention the twists and turns the story takes? This book is such a wild ride, and as I was reading it felt like there was a new surprise in every chapter. There were so many bombshell moments, from the first chapter to the last, that I never wanted to put it down.
I actually enjoyed the fact that there was a romance angle to the story, as well, with the two main characters trying to work out their feelings for each other. It gave the story an added layer of intrigue and drama, which was, again, another good decision on the part of the author. A word of warning, as this is a YA-style book, this romance does come with some of the tropes one might see in the genre. There is a lot of pining and some angst that comes along with it, and, while that is not a style in which I take particular pleasure, I do think the net result of the romance is positive.
Bonds of Brass is a riveting space story full of adventure. The characters are quirky and well-written, the pacing of the story was perfect, and there are plenty of dramatic twists to keep the reader on their toes. I recommend this book for fans of Sci-Fi and anyone looking to go a fun space journey.