Cover Image: The Prince of the Skies

The Prince of the Skies

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Member Reviews

I received an ARC of this book by the publisher via Netgalley in an exchange for an honest review.

The Prince of the Skies is an English translation of the Spanish novel A cielo abierto (2017). The novel explores the lives of three of France's pioneering aviators who were good friends and worked for a French airmail company developing and flying aviation postal routes around the world during the 1920s-1940s. The most famous of the three being Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, who wrote The Little Prince. However interestingly enough, when I mentioned that I was reading a book about Saint-Exupéry to my French mother and brought up Jean Mermoz and Henri Guillaumet, she recognized both names and said that she was taught about them in school growing up in France. 

Reading about the advent of airmail and the lifestyle of early civil pilots was really interesting. The novel delves into how the routes were developed, changing airplane technology during the era, the work life of civil pilots, and the race between countries for dominance in civil aviation. The novel changes POV between the three pilots so you can see how their personal lives and their professional achievements played out. Saint-Exupéry and Mermoz get most of the playtime, while Guillaumet develops into the story's archetypical wise advice-giving friend. In the world of today, it can be easy to forget how dangerous being a pilot (even outside of war and the military) was on a day-to-day basis. 

The novel unfolds in many different settings including Paris, Morocco, Argentina, and New York City. As a reader, you feel the excitement that these aviators probably had about getting the opportunity to explore and discover new places all around the world. It was a fun read and the only qualm I had was how long it was. The audiobook comes in at over 17 hours and it's one of those stories where the characters' lives is the plot. It was a little slow-going, especially towards  the last 20% of the novel. However, I enjoyed the read. I give it 3 out of 5 stars.
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I listened to the audio version of this novel. Since I was very long (~15 hours), I listened at 2 - 2.5x speed. Fortunately, it was a good audiobook. Otherwise, I may not have finished it. I cannot help but skim print novels that are this long. However, this novel did not contain the extraneous details and filler that I usually skim. It was all substance and well-written substance.
I enjoyed the story of these three pilots from the early days of commercial aviation into WW2. Antoine and his buddies certainly led very interesting lives. Yes, they were partiers and womanizers, and they faced a lot danger. The women weren't exactly virtuous either. However, none of this bothered me. I really liked Antoine. He is the type of person I would like to meet and talk to. 
Characters and atmosphere were well developed. The story was beautifully written and full of excellent quotes. 
I would read this author again. 
Thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for an ACR of this audiobook in exchange for an honest review.
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Great story about Antoine De Saint Expery, and his aviation partners Jean Mermoz and Henri Guillaumet. we all remember Antoine as the author of The Little Prince, but I really didn't know anything more about him and his life. 

The Prince of the skies shows us another side of Antoine, especially his days in the aviation, and how he somehow was the one who helped many postal routes to open such as the African and South America route, where he will meet many of the most interesting characters of this story as well as love and beautiful women.

Antoine shows us in the prince of the skies the unite, the friendship he and his closest colleagues had, and the many burdens and problems aviation had at those times but how Antoine always had a great attitude and solution for any of these problems such as some of his superiors constant negatives for him to move forward as a great aviator. 

Antoine's love for aviation was immense it was his world, his everything until he had to choose between love and the love of his life Aviation. I really didn't like Louise de Vilmorin's character since the very first moment we meet her she is superficial and very naive. I really dislike how she played so much with Antoine's feelings, she cared more about money and society and she constantly made him feel like he was less than her. 

The secondary characters are great, you will have the chance to learn more about Jean Mermoz and Henri Guillaumet. two amazing characters that brought so much to Antoine's life.

The Prince of the skies will take you on a journey that will make you feel like you're the one flying the airplane and taking the precious cargo across the ocean, it is written in such a way that it feels like you're in a movie, like you're one of the main characters 

The Narrations by Simon Bubb were amazing, I really enjoyed so much the way he brought the story and the characters to life, he really made me feel like I was another character of this magnificent book 

This was a great book, I really enjoy it, I recommend it if you're looking for something that will take your mind far away and will make you feel like you're in a beautiful movie watching all these scenarios and characters come alive.
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The fact that I finished this book says a lot more about my interest in Antoine de Saint-Exupéry than the merits of this book. The story "arc" was more of a long, flat highway with the occasional speed bump. Emphasis on long . . . and flat.

On the positive side, there was a LOT of really interesting history packed in these pages. I felt like the author had to try really hard to make this story so boring. He had so much to work with.

On hindsight, a textbook on this subject might have been less mundane.
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Great writing and wonderful historical detail. I really enjoyed this book although, for me, it was a bit too long. I eventually checked out and had to keep pulling myself back in. 

I always enjoy learning something new in historical fiction and this fit the bill. I learned a lot about the paths of the pilot and the lives they lived.
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4.5 stars      
         
This is one of the best historical novels I’ve read this year! Beautiful prose, emotionally engaging, historically grounded, & a compelling portrayal of historical figures. It’s about aviation pioneers, enduring friendship, a lifelong yearning for intimate & fulfilling love, travel, & writing. So good!
 
[What I liked:]

•This is long & not a mystery novel, but I loved every page of it & didn’t want it to end! Covering more than two decades of three MC’s’ lives, the character arcs & their life stories intertwine & diverge seamlessly, & all three characters have such meaningfully written endings. 
 
•The writing (prose) is gorgeous, & skillfully captures Antoine’s sensitivity & philosophical melancholy, Mermoz’s intense restlessness & passionate pushing of boundaries, & Guillaumet’s steadfast & gentle presence. There is such a nice balance between the action/adventure storylines, Antoine’s complex internal life & development as a writer, the three pilots’ friendship dynamics throughout the years, their love stories, & their respective deaths.

•This is quite well researched, with excellent historical detail & full-fleshed fictionalized portrayals of the historical figures. Mermoz & Antoine are deeply flawed humans, yet compelling & intensely relatable. The characters are just so alive in this book. I also loved the history related to the pioneering days of commercial aviation, Antoine’s stint as a de facto diplomat in colonial North Africa, his writing career, & the war years.


[What I didn’t like as much:]

•Man, so many of these characters are deeply effed up, yet resonated with me so much that I’m a bit concerned how relatable I found their flaws 😂😭 They’re not all-around models of how humanity should live (with the exception of the Guillaumets!), but if you can look past their racism & infidelity, etc., there’s much to admire in their tenacity, tireless devotion to living life to the fullest, & idealism as well. But I can see where some readers might not like these characters, or even find them repellent.

•It was a bit hokey how Antoine’s inspirations for The Little Prince were rather clumsily inserted throughout the book. I mean, I get why those were included, & to some extent I appreciated them, but some of them in particular didn’t naturally blend into the narrative & thus felt stilted.

CW: racism, colonialism, infidelity, substance abuse, fascism, major character death 

[I received an ARC ebook copy from NetGalley in exchange for my honest review. Thank you for the book!]
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The Prince of the Skies 
by Antonio Iturbe
Narrated by Simon Bubb
This is an amazing historical adventure, starting with the beginning of aeronautics, from the training after the first world war, to the development of mail air routes. The French pilots world wide, have many many challenges and hardships. From the beginning the military is reluctant to start the air pilot program. The harshness of the training eliminate many want to be pilots, spending years doing the worst duties before they are even allowed to begin training. After the war, the mail is transferred to the process of airmail. The machines are unable to do all the routes, and pilots risk their lives creating trade routes, from broken planes, to surviving crashes, to surviving Muslim attacks to those pilots downed by the elements, and mechanics of the process. The Spanish pride has another rough shot deal that the French pilots were forced to negotiate. The passes of South America cause more problems since the aeronautics is unable to rise above the peaks. The story shows the human cost of the adventures. Lots of challenges, words written and sad lonely men.  
Simon Bubb has a distinct voice, not only for the characters but the personal narrative of the narrator.
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