Skyward by Brandon Sanderson

skyward brandon sanderson recap

The basics

Title: Skyward


Series: Skyward #1

- Skyward (2018)
- Starsight (2019)
- Untitled
- Untitled

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Goodreads Summary:

Defeated, crushed, and driven almost to extinction, the remnants of the human race are trapped on a planet that is constantly attacked by mysterious alien starfighters. Spensa, a teenage girl living among them, longs to be a pilot. When she discovers the wreckage of an ancient ship, she realizes this dream might be possible—assuming she can repair the ship, navigate flight school, and (perhaps most importantly) persuade the strange machine to help her. Because this ship, uniquely, appears to have a soul.

Here’s our recap of what happened in Skyward. Read on for a full plot summary to refresh your memory!

what happened in Skyward?

  • Spensa and her father visit the surface. Spensa’s father receives a call on the radio warning him of a Krell attack.
  • Spensa’s father is a pilot for Destritus’ air force. He’s meant to be really good at fighting off the Krell, who are aliens that try to attack the humans that are living in caves on the planet.
  • Spensa’s father sends her back underground. Eventually she makes it home and learns that her father abandoned his mission, so he was shot down by his own men.
  • We learn that Spensa’s ancestors crashed on the planet on a ship, and luckily there was already technology there for them to use.
  • There’s a nine year time jump.
  • Spensa is currently studying to become a pilot like her father. She is bullied by the other teenagers because of her father, who has been labelled a coward.
  • Another student tells Spensa that they’ll never let her fly. Spensa asks her teacher about this, and her teacher avoids the question.
  • Spensa goes hunting for food and ends up on the surface. She has to hide from a sudden shower of debris, and finds a spacefighter ship in a cave. She also finds a creature that she names Doomslug.
  • Spensa takes the exam, ignoring what her classmates have been saying. Her test includes questions on topics that she skipped over – nothing to do with ships and flying at all.
  • Some of Spensa’s classmates are children of the first citizens – the pilots who fought in that final big battle (The Battle of Alta) at the beginning. These classmates don’t need to take the test.
  • Spensa gives the teacher, Ironsides, her father’s pin and says she should be included since her father was part of the Battle of Alta. Ironsides doesn’t let her fly. Spensa proves herself by filling on one of the other student’s tests and she aces it.
  • Another pilot enters the room. Cobb was Spensa’s father’s wingman. He looks at Spensa’s test and tells her she can come to flight school.
  • Cobb is the instructor for Spensa’s first class. The students are trained on a simulator at first, and it doesn’t go as well as Spensa expected.
  • Ironsides doesn’t let Spensa stay in the dorm in an attempt to isolate her from the other students. Spensa goes to sleep in the abandoned ship that she found in the beginning.
  • Spensa finds nodes in her helmet. They were put there by Ironsides, who is trying to prove that Spensa is a coward like her father.
  • Spensa starts to fix the ship that she found. She steals parts in order to do so, and is found out by a student called Jerkface. He outs her as the coward’s daughter.
  • The students have their first battle. Rig drops out of flight school afterwards and becomes an engineer instead.
  • The ship powers up, and its AI talks to her. The AI doesn’t remember much about how the ship got to the cave. It remembers its previous pilot commanding it to wait in the cave for him.
  • The AI thinks that he needs to collect mushrooms. Spensa disagrees because it’s a silly idea. The AI tells Spensa that she can’t make him fight because its previous pilot forbid it.
  • Spensa asks Rig to help her with fixing the ship. The AI tells her it senses ships heading towards the planet. Spensa alerts the cadets.
  • Spensa flies off to fight the Krell. Morningtide and Bim are killed in the battle. Eventually the Krell retreat.
  • Some space debris falls from the sky and the Krell try to destroy it. Spensa makes Nedd retreat before he gets hurt trying to save his brothers. He calls her a coward.
  • Cobb tells Spensa that he’s the one that shot down her father.
  • Hurl dies in another battle. Kimmalyn blames herself for this, and drops out of school. The rest of the cadets are given some time off.
  • Spensa finds Hurl’s body and gives her a funeral. She takes a part that she needed from Hurl’s broken ship.
  • Spensa gets angry about how the poor have to fight the Krell and potentially die while the rich go into politics or safer jobs.
  • Cobb gives Spensa the key to an archive room where there’s a bunch of videos locked away. Spensa wants to see what happened the day her father got shot down. Spensa takes the video clip back to her ship.
  • Spensa watches the video. She watches as her father flies higher and higher until he flies through a gap in the debris. Spensa hears her dad ask to go through the gap, and Ironsides agrees. He is then seen flying back in and shooting at his fellow pilots. He says he is going to kill them all.
  • Spensa takes Rig flying in the now repaired ship. She gets very close to the debris, and she starts to hear the stars, which is what also happened to her father.
  • The M-Bot shuts down.
  • Spensa’s grandmother tells her that her mother (Spensa’s great grandmother) was able to guide the Defiant using special abilities that she had. She was something called a Deviation. The Krell attacked the Defiant, and Spensa’s great grandmother guided the ship to Detritus, the planet that they’re currently on. The other passengers labelled her a traitor because it was now easy for the Krell to get to them.
  • The trainees do some more practice. The Krell see them and chase them. Spensa’s ship is shot down. Ironsides kicks Spensa out of flight school for losing the ship.
  • There’s a meeting, and Spensa tells them her plan to get hold of some debris so they can build new ships.
  • There’s a battle for more debris. A lot of pilots are killed by the Krell.
  • Arturo, Nedd, and Kimmalyn go to get some other ships so they can help in the battle.
  • Another group of Krell arrives. It’s clear that the first group was just a distraction. Spensa takes Arturo’s damaged ship so she can take out the lifebuster.
  • Spensa fights off the Krell and finds that she’s able to tap into them somehow and she’s able to predict their movements. Spensa’s ship gets hit by one of the ships that is protecting the lifebuster. She’s unable to tap into that one. Spensa lands the ship and Cobb protects her from the M-Bot.
  • Spensa takes the M-Bot. The AI says it didn’t fully shut down and instead wrote itself a new programme, and chose her as its new pilot.
  • Spensa hears the Krell start to count down to detonation. Spensa disconnects the bomb, and flies it to the debris belt. M-Bot’s hyperdrive comes back online and Spensa and the ship vanish. Spensa sees white and senses things watching her.
  • Spensa wakes up, having jumped a short distance in the ship. She sees a hole in the debris. She tells Ironsides that she’s going to go through it, and says if she comes back like her dad then they need to shoot her down.
  • Spensa realises that the debris field is actually a platform that has abandoned buildings on it.
  • Spensa heads towards a light. She sees there’s a space station surrounded by cargo ships. She senses something trying to get into her mind.
  • Spensa realises that the things got into her father’s mind, and they made him think his friends were the Krell.
  • Spensa gets closer to the ships, and she sees things inside are dressed in what she assumes is Krell armour. There’s writing on the ship that says “Penitentiary Maintenance and Containment of Earthlings”.
  • Spensa hears the Krell freak out about Spensa watching them and wanting to eat them. The Krell tow the ship in. M-Bot hacks into the Krell ship to find more information. Spensa flies back through the debris hole.
  • Back at the base, Spensa tells everyone want she found up there. Detritus is a place to preserve humanity. There was a war between humands and aliens. Humans were defeated, and many other alien races decided that humans were a violent species, and they demanded that the humans surrender. The captain of the Defiant wanted to surrender, but Spensa’s great grandmother got them to Detritus.
  • The alien coalition sends the Krell to distract the humans so they can’t figure out how to escape. They don’t want to overwhelm the humans, just keep them busy. Something must have changed, though, because the bomb was about to kill them all.
  • Spensa plans to use her teleportation power to gain advantage on the Krell.

This is a full plot summary of what happened in Skyward by Brandon Sanderson. Check out our recap list for more recaps. If you can’t find what you need, you can request a recap from us!

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