Aeronautics. Fencing. Inventions. Poison. Treason. Loss. Survival. Diving Bell. Diamonds. Fear. Love.
Nicholas comes to the islands of Saltee as king of a country he's never set foot on. The marshall, Hugo Bonvilain, obeys the king in form, but not in purpose or plotting. Declan and Catherine raise Connor aside Nicholas' daughter, Isabella. The children are tutored, and Connor is trained in skills needed to defend his king and country by Victor Vigny. Connor's youthful adventures and mishaps are summarily ended when he is framed and thrown in prison.
At first I found this tale difficult to get into because the beginning set off as a dry, non-fiction background story. It was a little confusing not to have an author's note at the back outlining the "true" parts of the historical setting. (I'm willing to suspend belief to read a story, but when it is so believably spun I like to know which parts are made up so I don't later espouse a fantastical tale as truth.)
More anecdotes during Connor's young life would have been enjoyable, but those that Colfer included were delightful and established reasonable enough "schooling" and natural ability to warrant Connor's invention successes and intrepid survival. There's old fashioned gadgets, and enticing descriptions of Saltee that could have readers looking on a map to plan a visit to the islands (which do exist).
A sequel feels possible, but unnecessary, and Airman stands on its own. I think it could get bumped out by other exceptional tales, but for now I'm giving it a MAYBE.