Book Review: Pirates of the Relentless Desert - Jay Amory

Publisher: Gollancz
Author: Jay Amory
Edition released: 2008
ISBN: 978-0-575-08032-4
420 pages
Reviewed by: Adam Donnison

PIRATES OF THE RELENTLESS DESERT is book two of the CLOUDED WORLD series, in which there are two races separated by, well, clouds. The Groundlings live on the surface of the planet, but there is another race, the winged Airborn, who live in floating cities. The two races were introduced to one another in the first book, as were the wingless Airborn hero Az Gabrielson and the Groundling Cassie Grubdollar. Far from being the Ascended Ones of myth, the Airborn proved to be far more tangible and the relationship was always going to be fractious.

PIRATES OF THE RELENTLESS DESERT starts with a rogue Airborn airship stealing barrels of oil from a remote oilfield in the Relentless Desert. In the Silver Sanctum - the centre of government of the Airborn - heated discussions as to how to deal with the pirates ensues. A plan is hatched to track down, and if necessary destroy the airship Behemoth and its pirates to ensure the stability of the alliance between Airborn and Groundling.

In the meantime, Cassie Grubdollar has her own problems, with business being slim, and her father being of no use since the death of his eldest son. Trying to keep the family together Cassie doesn't need her father disappearing on her, and she must start out on a potentially dangerous search.

Az needs to sort out his own issues. He hasn't seen Cassie for over six weeks and the relationship seems on the rocks. He is hoping the Grubdollars will come to his brother's wedding, but 3 kilometres is a big gap to get over.

PIRATES OF THE RELENTLESS DESERT was obviously written for a young adult audience, although the story and characters hold up well even for someone who remembers youth through the veil of decades. The story is well paced and the events of the first book are referred to in just enough detail so that you aren't lost reading the books out of sequence. The friction between the two groups provides endless possibilities for plot elements, and the obvious jealousies that exist on either side fuel the bad feelings.

There are numerous themes explored by Jay Amory in PIRATES OF THE RELENTLESS DESERT, including teenage angst, racial prejudice, drug abuse, religious intolerance, jealousy and class warfare. Yet all of this doesn't make a heavy book, rather they are used to tell a highly entertaining and engaging tale. There is plenty of action and the characters, while a little on the underdeveloped side, are easy to identify with. Well worth a look.

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