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Sky Raiders (Five Kingdoms) Hardcover – March 11, 2014

4.7 out of 5 stars 357 customer reviews
Book 1 of 5 in the Five Kingdoms Series

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Author One-on-One
Brandon Mull
Christopher Paolini
#1 bestselling author of The Inheritance Cycle Christopher Paolini interviews #1 bestselling author Brandon Mull about his new series, Five Kingdoms.

Paolini: What inspired you to write Five Kingdoms: Sky Raiders?

Mull: It’s hard for me to pinpoint where my stories come from. I get bored easily so I make up crazy stuff to cope with reality. Some of that stuff is useless, but some takes shape and becomes fun to revisit. I knew my sister-in-law Liz wanted a story with sky castles, so floating castles were one of the first ingredients I threw into the stew. I may not be able to detail the origin of Five Kingdoms, but I can explain what I was aiming to accomplish.

With Five Kingdoms, I wanted to bring together much of what I do best as a writer into one place. I wanted to merge some of the fun I put into Candy Shop War, with the discovery and adventure from Fablehaven, with some of the big world-building like I did in Beyonders. I wanted to create a world that opened up story possibilities I haven’t seen before.

The result is the Outskirts, where five different kingdoms are each governed by different types of magic. Some characters from our world get drawn into a fast-paced adventure that is sometimes scary and often strange but hopefully never boring.

Paolini: We’ve spoken before about your love of doorways, portals, and other such openings that transport you to strange and different places. That idea seems especially prominent in Sky Raiders. Is it something you thought about consciously when you were writing, or did it arise naturally from your interest in the subject?

Mull: Since my childhood, I’ve loved the idea of characters being transported to another world through a wardrobe, down a rabbit hole, over the rainbow, etc. As a kid, after reading the Narnia series, I sincerely wished for something like that to happen to me. I wanted to be king of some world and kill all the monsters and ride on lions and save everybody. When that didn’t pan out, I visited other worlds in my imagination instead.

With Five Kingdoms, I’m deliberately creating my most elaborate and varied world so far, and exploring it through the eyes of a character from our reality. Since each of the Five Kingdoms has different kinds of magic that work there, by the end of the series, readers essentially get to visit five new fantasy worlds in one.

Paolini: Many of your books feature characters who are siblings—specifically brother/sister—or who feel like siblings. In this case it’s Cole and Mira. Having a sister myself, I think you do a great job of portraying that sort of relationship. What is it, that you enjoy most about those kinds of characters?

Mull: I grew up as the oldest of five kids. I did and said nice, loving things to my siblings that I didn’t do or say to anyone else. And I did and said mean things to my siblings that I wouldn’t dare do or say to my worst enemies. And my siblings returned the favor in good and bad ways. We had each other’s back and we stabbed each other in the back.

Brother and sister relationships are complicated and interesting. They help ground characters and bring them to life in ways that many readers can identify with. I enjoy trying to capture the blend of silly banter, heated arguments, and real love and protectiveness that I remember from my own family relationships.

Paolini: It seems like you put a lot of thought into how the economy of the Five Kingdoms works. The sky raiders are scroungers, eking out a living on the edges of a very strange world. Much more interesting than just reading about kings and queens. How did you go about developing the economy and the society?

Mull: Some people think of fantasy as nonsense where anything can happen, but I’ve never seen it that way. To me, good fantasy doesn’t abandon reality. Instead, it creates a functional reality with different rules than our own. If my fantasy worlds make sense and feel authentic, the reader will have an easier time getting involved and caring about the story.

Part of the task involves figuring out the logistics of how the world works. Who governs it? How do they maintain control? Who supports them? Who dislikes them? Given the reality I have established, I try to think through how the fantasy/magical elements in the story would affect day-to-day life. I especially try to think how people would exploit different magical abilities or artifacts for gain.

Paolini: The magic in Five Kingdoms is really cool! I’d love to know more about why you chose this particular kind of magic and what its particular advantages/disadvantages are.

Mull: Each kingdom in Five Kingdoms has a different type of magic. Those in Sambria with magical talent can reshape reality as they desire. Only the most gifted can change reality in big ways and create beings called semblances that seem alive. Powerful shapers risk losing control and either becoming trapped in a nightmare of their own making or flat out destroying themselves and everything around them.

That type of magic seemed cool and dangerous, and gave an excuse for me to take readers to some very unusual settings. I had to be careful not to let the magic feel too powerful, so I made it very dangerous to tamper with living things, I made the magic work better in certain geographic locations than others, and I didn’t let any practitioners be flawless experts.

Paolini: Have you plotted out the series from start to finish? If so, how much does the outline change as you write?

Mull: I tend to daydream about my stories until I see them like movies in my mind. Then I convert that daydreamed adventure into written scenes. So I have a pretty firm blueprint at the start, but it evolves as I make discoveries along the way.

With Five Kingdoms, I know the kingdoms we’ll be visiting, and the main events that will happen. Many details will be added as I go.

Paolini: Who is your favorite character and why?

Mull: So hard to pick! I like Cole because he really cares about his friends and takes responsibility for them accidentally getting taken to the Outskirts as slaves. I think he is funny and grounded and tries hard to do the right thing.

Paolini: If you had to choose one magical item to use when raiding along with the sky raiders, which one would you choose?

Mull: Of the items in the book, I’d want Jace’s golden rope. It was an item that he claimed when scouting out a sky castle. The rope can get longer and shorter as needed. It responds to the will of the wielder, so it can reach out and tangle an enemy, wrap around a distant object, coil and spring the wielder forward, or curl up to cushion a fall. The golden rope’s extreme versatility would increase my chances of surviving a dangerous sky castle raid.

From School Library Journal

Gr 5–8—Cole talks his friends into visiting a house on Halloween rumored to provide a hauntingly good scare in this fantasy adventure. Instead of a fun evening in the suburbs of Arizona, the teenagers are kidnapped and taken through a portal to be sold as slaves in another world. Cole is sent to work as a Sky Raider, where his mission is to steal valuables from floating castles. This dangerous work helps him forge new friendships with young people who possess special powers. One of these friends is a princess in hiding, and Cole must help her overthrow her father, the evil King, as a way to establish order and help his friends escape slavery. The world-building lacks the necessary description and details which readers expect of this genre. Cole seems to move through the incredulous events without demonstrating any connection to his life on Earth or a real desire to return. The plot contains many twists and turns, but each new encounter is fashioned to outdo the previous one, which strains credulity.—April Sanders, Spring Hill College, Mobile, AL
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 8 - 12 years
  • Grade Level: 3 - 7
  • Series: Five Kingdoms (Book 1)
  • Hardcover: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Aladdin; First Edition edition (March 11, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1442497009
  • ISBN-13: 978-1442497009
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1.2 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (357 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #84,166 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
I LOVED this book. I am not necessarily a fantasy fan but this book was unusual and interesting enough to hold my attention. I read it in 24 hours and I could have read it in less if I hadn't had other obligations. I was a huge Fablehaven fan but I wasn't as much into the Beyonders because I am not a real epic Lord of the Rings sort of fantasy kind of person. I was a little skeptical when 5 Kingdoms came out because it sort of sounded more Beyonderesque to me. However I was wrong. It was a very healthy mix between Fablehaven and Beyonders. It had the more laid back element of Fablehaven and also some of the other worldness of Beyonders. I feel fans of either books would really enjoy this book. I instantly was pulled into this book. If at times you felt like the first Fablehaven and Beyonders books were a little slow with trying to explain things you will not have the same problem with this book. It was very quick and after reading the first chapter I refused to put it down although another member of my family was in the middle of it . This book has a very broad appeal (like Fablehaven). Family members of varied ages have read it and they all agree with a 5 star rating. Other reviews have said that Brandon Mull is not doing the quality he once did, but I have to disagree. This is the best first book I have read by him and I think it might be my new favorite of all his books! Keep the good work up Brandon!
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I got this book through Amazon vine with every intention of reading it myself and then passing it on to my 14 yr old son because he loves just about every other book Brandon Mull has written. BUT, he would not let me read it first--he has taken it and won't give it back because he could not wait to read it. But time is running out and the review is due soon, so I told him he will need to write the review himself if he's not going to let me have a turn now. He agreed:

"Five Kingdoms is a good book. There is a group of kids going to a haunted house on Halloween, They thought it would be fun, but it turned out to be full of slavers from a different dimension. They take kids to their dimension (called the Outskirts) and sell them into slavery. Cole (the main character) manages to not get captured. He followed them to their dimension to save his friends. He was captured and sold to the Sky Raiders. The Outskirts is also made up of five kingdoms.

This book is full of action and adventure, which I love. The world is really cool and the place where the Sky Raiders work is really cool, too. The Sky Raiders have a dangerous job, they have to raid castles in the sky and steal treasure. The sky castles are full of random creatures, either good or bad, you never know. I think it is a great book. It's really fun to read and I have always like Brandon Mull's writing."

(He is the one who picked the star rating, btw. I think it's only four instead of five because the reading level is a little lower than Mull's other books, and he's likely comparing it to Beyonders, which was his favorite book series ever.)

Two things I must add: He's been busy reading this at night before bed (he's nearly done) instead of playing games on his tablet, which I think speaks volumes. Second, I have every intention of sneaking this book and reading it myself when he's totally finished...shhhhh....
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I have been a huge fan of Brandon Mull since Fablehaven. That said, I am also getting older- after reading another one of his recent books and not being as enthusiastic about it, I was afraid that I may have outgrown his writing style and I would no longer be able to enjoy his books as much.
This book proved me wrong- after the first couple chapters, I was hooked. I can barely wait for the second in the series to come out, because I want to know what happens next. If you have read Fablehaven and you especially liked Seth's character, then you will definitely enjoy this book. I found that the main character in this book, Cole, was very similar to Seth in how they acted and the style of writing Brandon Mull used when writing from their point of view.
This book is great for anybody age 8 or older- a younger kid definitely could read the book, but Brandon Mull's writing style might be too sophisticated for them to enjoy the book much. However, I think that this book would be great to read aloud in an elementary school classroom where foreign words could be explained by a teacher. I would definitely recommend this book!
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
My kids absolutely love Brandon Mull books. Our most recent find was the first book of Spirit animals, and now this one. My oldest son, age 11, couldn't put it down He loved it. I will mention that my boys didn't love the Beyonders series. They were a little too violent, and hard to follow. This particular book is more in line with the fablehaven books.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I was already a fan of Brandon Mull and his Fablehaven and Beyonders series so I knew there was a good chance I'd enjoy this book as well--and I did. It took me a couple chapters to really get into the book but after that I looked for every moment that I could to go back to reading it.

The story should appeal to readers of all ages who like fantasy and adventure. The story's main character is a 6th grader which seemed a bit young to me--but I think his young age will appeal to young readers--and after all, that is the target audience for this book.

The only downside to this book is that, like another reviewer has indicated, I have to wait until the next book in the series comes out to find out what happens next! According to Amazon that book will be realized in October of this year (2014).

Another of Brandon's books that I really enjoyed reading to my son, and he enjoyed it as well was "The Candy Shop War."
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