Monday 18 October 2021


Book review: The Prince of the Skies by Antonio Iturbe [blog tour]

The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry is a true example of a literary classic. Even nearly 80 years after publication it resonates with audiences in its original written form and in the countless adaptations that have been created since. For a novella that is often billed as a children's book, it has surprising adult and deep themes, centred around friendship, loss, and loneliness. Themes that run through the author's own life too.

The Prince of the Skies by Antonio Iturbe, the writer acclaimed for historical fiction novel The Librarian of Auschwitz, delves into the fascinating life of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, or Saint-Ex as his friends called him. The famous tale of the little caped prince is alluded to throughout this historical tome, but it's more a whisper than a detailed account of its creation.

Instead this is the story of the friendship between Saint-Ex, Jean Mermoz, and Henri Guillaumet; three aviators pivotal to the creation of global flight paths in their work for French postal service Aéropostale in the first half of the 20th century. Their passion and sheer determination for flying made these three men true pioneers – and heroes. 

Flying has become so commonplace these days that it's easy to forget that there were people who had to map out routes; through storms, over mountain ranges and oceans, and through previously inaccessible parts of the world. They risked their lives in tiny planes unlike anything we are used to and set up the routes that are so established these days. 

It's a remarkable feat when a novel can marry fact and fiction in such as seamless way that the reader doesn't know where one begins and the other ends. And The Prince of the Skies is a prime example of this. While some of the story certainly must be fictionalised due to lack of records, or for dramatic purposes, Saint-Ex, Mermoz, and Guillaumet feel so realistic – they practically leap of the pages. Their lives, particularly those rare moments when they intertwine, are so incredibly compelling that the reader genuinely starts caring for the fates of these heroic people, flaws and all, and wishing for their inevitable stories to come to a different ending, even though history has taught us otherwise. 

Before reading this novel I did not have a particular interest in aviation, but Iturbe's engrossing storytelling and the characters' love for flying are contagious from the very first chapter; I could feel the excitement at the edges of the pages when a new flight model was tested and an experimental route turned into a victory. It's a remarkable part of history, and it deserves the spotlight this novel shines on it. The book is incredibly well-researched, and the admiration for these historical figures is palpable throughout. 

It's a wonderful thing when a novel brings a not often merited part of history to the foreground. And when it's done in such an accomplished way as it has been in The Prince of the Skies, you truly have something magical.  

The Prince of the Skies
by Antonio Iturbe is published by Pan Macmillan and you can purchase your copy now from your favourite book shop.

Blog tour stops for 'The Prince of the Skies' by Antonio Iturbe

This review for 'The Prince of the Skiese' is a part of the official blog tour for the launch of the book. Make sure you check out the other stops!

Disclaimer: This book was gifted to me by the publisher, but this has not impacted this honest review.

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