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The Kingdom of the Air

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1940. The Battle of Britain has begun. A young Messerschmitt pilot is shot down over Dartmoor. He tries to evade a manhunt, knowing that if he is captured by the British, his war will be over. But when Josef Schafer falls into the hands of a sinister agent of the Special Operations Executive, his troubles have only begun. He is returned to occupied France having made an impossible deal with the British.

As the air war escalates, Josef is in danger in the sky and on the ground. His allegiances are tested as he is torn between loyalty to his Luftwaffe comrades and a French woman whom he is compelled to serve. The stakes are high. Whoever controls the sky above the English Channel will decide the fate of nations. Winner of the CALEB Prize Unpublished Fiction 2014 Winner of the Clive Cussler Adventure Writer's Competition

290 pages, Paperback

Published April 1, 2016

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C.T. Wells

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Displaying 1 - 16 of 16 reviews
Profile Image for Jeanette.
Author 30 books133 followers
May 1, 2016
C T Well's debut novel Kingdom of the Air is a gripping, fast-paced espionage thriller set in WW2. What makes this novel different is that it told mostly from the pov of Josef Schafer, a South-African born fighter pilot in the Luftwaffe, though it also includes the povs of the members of a French resistance cell and the Gestapo agent that hunts them.

Josef's Messerschmitt’s is shot down over southern England during a bombing raid. He attempts so allude the British and escape back to Germany but falls into the clutches of Special Operative Executive agent Lucas who seizes on the opportunity to coerce Josef into things he doesn't want to do. He becomes entangled with the beautiful French resistance agent, Giselle, her dashing brother Martin and taciturn friend Edouard. Josef finds himself caught between his loyalties to his 'brotherhood' of pilots, his oath to Hitler and the pressing demands and manipulations of the French and English. Eventually he will have to choose which side he is really on.

I liked the subtle turning of the tables by having an unlikely protagonist that helps raise moral issues of motivation and the justifications for actions taken in war, without minimizing the horrors of the Hitler regime. While I found some elements of the plot (especially towards the end) predictable, the story kept me on the edge of my seat wondering what would happen next, what choices Josef or Giselle would make. A couple of times, those choices seemed a bit abrupt (once I think to achieve an element of surprise), but overall the characterisation of Josef, Giselle, her brother Martin and the Gestapo agent Eberhard Reile was sensitively done and the details of the different forces, planes, procedures was (as far as I could tell) flawless and interesting.

Overall a good and gripping read. And I loved the bold eye-catching cover, so appropriate for the story.

I received a copy of this book from Rhiza Press for a fair and honest review.
Profile Image for Cold War Conversations Podcast.
415 reviews260 followers
September 7, 2016
Fast paced WW2 thriller.

Josef Schafer is a South African born Luftwaffe pilot. When he is shot down over England he is forced to strike a deal to save his sister held in a South African camp.

CT Wells delivers a thrilling ride and has obviously researched the military detail well. However, it’s not all about the hardware it’s also a compelling story with strong characters and moral choices.

An enjoyable read and one I’d recommend. The book ends nicely setup for a sequel which I'll look forward to.
Profile Image for Dave Edlund.
Author 15 books107 followers
April 23, 2016
I selected this novel because it won the 2015 Adventure Writer's Competition. The plot is more WWII spy adventure than it is action or thriller, not my normal cup of tea. However, if that is your thing, then you'll want to read Mr. Wells' book. It is very well written with strong and well developed characters. There are some surprising twists to the plot as well, enough to keep the reader guessing.
3 reviews1 follower
May 15, 2016
Josef Schafer is a Luftwaffe pilot, but when his plane goes down over English territory, he is forced to strike a deal that puts everything he knows, including his very life in danger. He is a man torn between warring loyalties – to his sister, who he left behind in South Africa years ago, to his brothers in the Reich, and to a French freedom fighter who makes him question what he believes.

Sounds like the makings of a dramatic book, right? And it is.

The Kingdom of the Air delivers on the action front – it’s a fast paced read that I knocked out in about a week. The flying scenes are great – enough technical knowledge has gone into them to be realistic, but Wells pulls back before it starts to sound academic.

But where I really thought this story shone was in the way it dealt with the morality of war and how in times of conflict, nothing is black and white.

When your main character is a Nazi, morality becomes a theme to be handled very, very carefully. Wells handles it with aplomb – you empathise with Josef’s struggle without feeling that you’re suddenly cheering for the wrong team, and the characters on both sides of the line have to struggle with shifting world views.

Is Kingdom of the Air the only and best WW2 story you’ll ever read? Maybe not. But it’s an engaging, thought provoking story, and on top of that, the writing itself is competent and subtle.

If there is a sequel (which it seems that there just may be) I will certainly be keeping an eye out for it.
Profile Image for Zillah.
Author 9 books3 followers
May 11, 2016
Review of Kingdom of the Air


As soon as The Battle of Britain is mentioned, I’m hooked. And this book is set in 1940 at that time in English history.

So what is there to like about C.T. Wells’ first novel The Kingdom of the Air? The short answer is, “a lot”. For lovers of thrillers, historical novels, and a spice of romance this book is a “must”. There is action, tension, danger and excitement aplenty.

The story is unusual in that the hero, Josef Shafer, is a complex character of South African and German descent. He becomes an ace Luftwaffe pilot, having sworn allegiance to Adolf Hitler. How he juggles this allegiance with increasingly competing demands on his loyalty forms the backbone of the story.

The author’s writing style is pleasing. He brings the reader right into the scene—for example, the description of the motorbike rider���s jacket billowing in the wind. So simple, but effective.

Dialogue flows smoothly and fits the characters.

I wasn’t sure I was going to enjoy this book when I first began reading. I was put off by a glitch in formatting and there were one or two typos. Before long I couldn’t wait to find out what was going to happen next.

Any film makers out there? This book is a good candidate for an action movie. Highly recommended.


Profile Image for John Purvis.
1,120 reviews18 followers
October 3, 2016
“The Kingdom of the Air” eBook was published in 2016 and was written by C. T. Wells. This is Mr. Wells’ first publication.

I received a galley of this novel for review through https://www.netgalley.com. I categorize this novel as ‘R’ because it contains scenes of Violence. Some of the story is set in England, but most of it is in France during 1940. The primary characters are Josef Schafer, a German fighter pilot and Giselle Alegre, a former university student and now a member of the French resistance.

Schafer is shot down on a mission over England. He survives and is captured. He is offered the opportunity to be set free and returned to France if he will help a British Special Operations unit. Hanging on his answer is the fate of his sister who is a British prisoner in South Africa.

Alegre, her brother Martin and close friend Edouard have been formed into a cell in the French resistance. They are assigned a dangerous mission to destroy reconnaissance photos of England. They are surprised when Schafer shows up to assist them.

There is animosity and distrust between the four. They all soon find themselves being hunted by the German Gestapo. Even though they are really on different sides in the war, Alegre and Schafer discover an attraction for one another. Schafer is also dealing with torn loyalties. He is from South Africa but was able to join the German Luftwaffe because his mother was German. He has never really fit in with his Luftwaffe comrades and the more he sees of the Nazi brutality in France, the more he questions his commitment to Germany.

I enjoyed the 7.5 hours spent reading this 290 page novel. The characters are not white or black, but all shades of gray as they are each violent and ruthless in their own ways. Between the combat flying, espionage adventures and encounters with the Gestapo, the plot moves quickly and maintained my interest well. Overall I liked this Fiction World War II Thriller and I look forward to more in the series. The cover art is interesting and reflects the Messerschmitt fighter aspects of the story. I give this novel a 4 out of 5.

Further book reviews I have written can be accessed at https://johnpurvis.wordpress.com/blog/.
Profile Image for Pete Loveday.
145 reviews4 followers
August 30, 2016
This is an excellent book with more than the usual War stories of spies and resistance action. Josef is a troubled man having thrown his lot in with the German Luftwaffe having left his South African home. His heart is turned by the charming Giselle and the result was always going to be tragedy.
Excellent story development with finely drawn characters. I rate this a 5 star book and look forward to more from this author.
Profile Image for Catriona.
97 reviews
September 5, 2016
The Kingdom of the Air is definitely one of those "can't put it down" kind of books. Set during WW2 over the skies of occupied France, it is full of excitement, twists and plot turns. The anticipation builds throughout the story, and by the half way mark the action picks up pace to become seriously intense until the end. Although I wouldn't necessarily read this genre, I thoroughly enjoyed the novel.

Disclaimer: I know the author personally. However, I purchased the book at full price and have left this review without the knowledge or request of the author.
Profile Image for Claire Belberg.
Author 5 books9 followers
January 19, 2021
A gripping story of a pilot during World War Two - a South African in the German Luftwaffe, who struggles with his personal demons and the hard questions of what is right in the midst of so much that is wrong.
July 5, 2018
My first impression of the book came via the cover, of a Messerscmitt Bf109 over Mont St-Michel in Normandy, an intriguing combination of images against an incendiary sky. The opening chapter establishes the descriptive narrative with regular and unexpected plot changes that quickly has the reader embracing the main characters' hopes and struggles.
It is particularly refreshing that the protagonists are clothed with a range of varied backstories that help to avoid the superficial stereotypes often associated with WW2 novels and movies.
The pacing is fast with few interruptions and many tense moments.
The author's research into the geography, history and institutions of the era adds an extra layer of authenticity to the story and helps make it readily imaginable.
The novel reveals the painful difficulties of living with decisions made without adequate forethought and that assumptions about what actions are morally right, and who are the 'good guys', can vary within the circumstances of war.
A highly recommended read!
1 review
August 13, 2019
This book was absolutely fantastic. I have read it multiple times and I'm reading it again. I loved the suspense and the really realistic scene that it set. So exciting and it gave a really good idea of what it would be like to fly a Messerschmidt. I can't wait for the sequel.
Profile Image for Susan Barnes.
401 reviews58 followers
December 12, 2016
I enjoyed The Kingdom of the Air by C. T. Wells, even though it's not what I would normally choose to read. The story was engaging from the start. Josef Schafer is a South African born, German pilot who is shot down over England during World War 2. He is returned safely to Germany by an English Special Operations agent but is blackmailed into relaying information to some French resistance operatives. As we follow Josef's interactions with Giselle, her brother and their friend, we see him struggling with issues of loyalty, betrayal and the nature of truth.

I was glad that I'd seen the TV series, Foyle's War as this book is set in the same time period although most of the action happens in France, rather than England. However there are similar ethical dilemmas, also Christopher Foyle's son was a pilot which provide me with some background to the context of the book.

I found the book to be engrossing. The author managed to create a good deal of tension and suspense and there was a sense of realism to the story. Even the 'good guys' didn't always behave with integrity. The story is complete in itself but does lend itself to a sequel.

Overall a great read.

Thanks to Rhiza Press for providing a free book for review.
20 reviews3 followers
Read
August 7, 2016
South African Josef Schafer became a Nazi pilot as a way of escaping the turmoil of his home country, and in the hope of protecting those he loves from harm. The war that is unfolding around him doesn't necessarily concern him, until his survival becomes dependent on it. Shot down over "enemy" territory, he is returned to his camp as a spy for the Allies in exchange for his sister's safety. Now he must decide what matters most: his loyalty to the nation for whom he is fighting, or maintaining his own integrity.

Well written and engaging from start to finish, The Kingdom of the Air looks beyond the surface of WW2, with intriguing characters who make you question what you thought you knew about this epic battle. I haven't read a book quite like this CT Wells debut, but he's certainly got me hooked. Definitely an author I will keep an eye out for in the future.

This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Iola.
1,315 reviews
Read
July 4, 2016
I haven't read the final book, but did read an early draft and was impressed. It was a worthy winner of the CALEB prize for unpublished manuscripts.
1 review
May 22, 2019
This is a thoughtfully constructed and tense epic that retells a spy character named Josef Schafer set in 1940s war-ravaged countries. You are instantly drawn to the characters that Wells fills his novel with including a man motivated by family love, loyalty to his fellow Luftwaffe warriors, and the desire to survive. The great thing about this book is that if you know a lot about warfare, you won’t get frustrated with the book because the author has done his research, however you also don’t need to know all the intricacies of world war two inside and out to enjoy it either. This is the kind of book that you don’t want to put down; you find yourself enveloped in the world as if you were a character making your own decisions in trepidation instantly alongside Josef or Giselle.
Displaying 1 - 16 of 16 reviews

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