54 pages 1 hour read

Kenneth Oppel


Fiction | Novel | Middle Grade | Published in 2004

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Chapters 1-3

Chapter Summaries & Analyses

Chapter 1 Summary: “Ship’s Eyes”

Matt Cruse, a cabin boy on the airship Aurora, watches the night sky for storms or other aerial ships. The Aurora flies above the Pacifica, and Matt is surprised to see a hot air balloon this far from land. He reports the balloon, the Endurance, to Captain Walken, whom Matt likes due to the respectful way Walken addresses him. When the Aurora hails the Endurance but gets no response, Walken attempts a tricky midair rescue.

Matt is relieved from duty by an officer, but despite the late hour, he is too excited by the imminent rescue to go to bed. An officer named Mr. Rideau reluctantly permits Matt to aid in the rescue. The Aurora workers throw grappling hooks at the balloon, which is slowly sinking. Matt spots an unconscious body in the balloon’s basket. Walken proposes that Matt be dangled to retrieve the unconscious balloon pilot. Matt, unafraid and proud to be of service, agrees. Matt does not consider himself brave; being up in the air feels natural to him.

Matt swings himself into the gondola and begins cutting the balloon free, fearing it will drop into the burner and set the gondola aflame.