Paperback: 384 pages
Publisher: Corgi Childrens (4 Oct 2002)
Yes, it's another one of the Edge Chronicles, yes, it's the start of another (as yet incomplete) trilogy. But this time, it's set before the Twig trilogy, and involves Quint (later to become Twig's father, as it happens).
In this, the city of Sanctaphrax is still securely floating at the end of its chain, the later intrigues and treachery have yet to occur. Young Quint is left by his father (a famous sky pirate captain) to become the apprentice of the Most High Academe, Linius Pallitax. But the MHA's daughter Maris is rather peeved at this, feeling that her father is rejecting her. And the MHA himself is hiding something, a dark secret from the past.
This is the most circumscribed of the Edge Chronicles I've read so far. It's as delightfully illustrated as any of the others (and it's the balancing of description and illustration that really makes these work), but it takes place solely in the floating city. Of course, Maris comes to become friends with Quint (well, the Twig trilogy does reveal them to be Twig's parents, so that was somewhat inevitable). But the mood at the end, with the Gloamglozer abroad, is more sombre than one might expect, even if some villains are delightfully hoist by their own petard.
The point from which all the later books evolve.