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Dinotopia: First Flight is the third Dinotopia book written by James Gurney. It was released on October 31, 1999 by Harper Collins, and is much shorter than Gurney's previous two installments at only sixty pages. First Flight flashes back thousands of years to the island of Poseidos, and follows the story of Gideon Altaire, and the genesis of the Skybax Riders. The first edition included a fold-out board game.

Publisher's Summary

"THE STORY OF DINOTOPIA UNFOLDS!

The much-anticipated third book in James Gurney's Dinotopia series takes us back to Dinotopia's ancient past, where the Empire of Poseidos is about to use its robotic technology to capture the peaceful dinosaurs of Dinotopia. Only Gideon Altairs and his faithful mechanical friend, Fritz, can stop this evil plan. But first they must escape Poseidos and win the trust of the prehistoric creatures.

This dramatic addition to the award-winning Dinotopia series tells a tale of partnership and courage, where humans and animals fight side by side to overcome the greatest challenge yet to face Dinotopia. As a special bonus, the front cover opens up to reveal an easy-to-learn board game. By Detaching the game cards from the back of the book, players can join Gideon on his adventures, experiencing his crushing setbacks and his high-flying triumphs.''

Plot Summary

Attention:  This article, or section, may contain spoilers! Read on at own risk!

Will Denison, about to enter the last phase of his training to become a skybax rider, must now read about Gideon Altaire and the story of the first flight on the back of a skybax. What follows is the contents of the scroll he is reading.

The story begins with Gideon hitching a ride to flight school on the tail of a bronto strutter, having missed the skimmer bus. He is accompanied by Fritz, his hoverhead. When he arrives, he joins the other students in piloting drones. The assignment is to herd captured sauropod dinosaurs on Ko Veng Island into an enclosure. Instead, Gideon lands his drone and sits back to watch the dinosaurs roam. His drone is smashed by a dinosaur's foot. Gideon is immediately brought to Roff Stricker's office for destruction of school property. Gideon requests a new assignment, but Stricker tempts him with the possibilities open to him if he would apply his considerable talent and potential to fitting in and following orders. Gideon refuses, and leaves the school.

As Gideon stands on his balcony, staring out at the Dinotopian mainland, an injured pterosaur alights near him. When Gideon takes the pterosaur inside his apartment to tend to its injured wing, it introduces itself as Razzamult, and expresses a desire to go to the dance parade. They attend, and Razzamult has Gideon follow the dance troupe to their camp. There he meets Faldo Mustakka, a man who is already acquainted with Gideon's new pterosaur friend. After speaking with Razzamult, Faldo translates the pterosaur's information: Highnest has been invaded by Poseidos, the ruby sunstone has been taken, along with four pterosaurs that were now being held captive on Poseidos. Faldo and Razzamult fear that the immense power of the ruby sunstone will be used to destroy all of Dinotopia, and Gideon sees that the practice exercises being run at the flight school fit into this plan. Faldo and his niece, Mirella, provide Gideon with the uniform of a Strutterworks guard in order to infiltrate the Strutterworks and get back the ruby sunstone. They also give him a conch shell, with the instructions, "Blow on this shell when you are in danger, and friends will come to help you."

Gideon gets past the guards at the entrance of the Strutterworks by telling them that he needs to repair his hoverhead, and proceeds through the corridors until coming across a large hangar where a giant air scorpion was being built. The moment he sees it, he realizes this machine will be used in an attempt to conquer the mainland. Gideon sneaks up to the dormant machine's cockpit and removes the ruby sunstone from its bracket, activating an alarm. Fritz switches the alarm to another part of the building, but Gideon knows that will only serve as a temporary diversion. He blows the conch shell, and hears the cries of pterosaurs in response. He follows their cries to a nearby room, only to find four pterosaurs - Catapults, Scimitar, Zanzibar, and Avatar - trapped in a wind tunnel, being studied by Poseidian engineers so that they could be imitated in machine form. Roff Stricker appears in an air lock and, again, tries to tempt Gideon with a second chance. Again, Gideon refuses. He leaps to a nearby portal and wrestles it open, setting the pterosaurs - and himself - free. Dashing across rooftops, he finally comes to a skimmer landing, and there steals a police skimmer, using the ruby sunstone to power it. Using the skimmer to outrun the police, Gideon escapes from Poseidos and flies towards the mainland. The antigravity generator begins to malfunction as he gets close, forcing him down over Sapphire Bay.

After falling asleep on the shore, Gideon awakes to find he is surrounded by a group of humans and saurians. One of them, a Triceratops named Humadee, questioned Gideon about his identity and his intentions, and tells him about a rumor that Poseidos was planning to invade the mainland with fighter sprogs. Alarmed, Gideon sends Razzamult to Highnest to warn them and to tell them he is on his way, making the journey to highnest across the land. Meanwhile, the Fish Fleet makes its landing in Sapphire Bay, each ship disgorging its cargo of sprogs. Humadee tells Gideon to make his way through Mukkawukka Swamp, where Bandy would lead him to Highnest. Humadee and the others would distract the sprogs. Once in the swamp, Gideon again blows on the conch shell, which calls forth a number of small allies: Budge, Binny, and Bongo. After hearing Gideon's story, they are motivated to help when Bandy reminds them that, once they are done with Highnest, the Poseidians may very well come after Mukkawukka Swamp next.

Deep in the swamp, the band of heroes is ambushed by a sprog. Gideon is caught, and the ruby sunstone is taken from him by one of the sprog's hoverheads, who flies off back towards Poseidos. As Gideon is taken inside the sprog, his animal friends spring into action, disabling the sprog and dismantling its hoverhead crew. Fritz takes up residence on one of the dismantled hoverheads' bodies. With the sunstone lost, the group's mission is even more imperative.

Upon reaching Highnest, Gideon, his new allies, and the pterosaurs work to hide the pterosaur eggs. They realize that Stricker could only control the skies with the air scorpion if he could control the pterosaurs, making Highnest an obvious first target. They would have to fight him in the air. The pterosaurs suggest that Gideon and his terrestrial friends were not much heavier than the eggs they had all just carried on their backs, and that it would be possible for the pterosaurs to carry them into battle. They agree, and hop on: Binny on Razzamult, Bandy on Catapult, Bongo on Scimitar, Budge on Zanzibar, and Gideon on Avatar. Together, they fight against the drones the air scorpion was sends against Highnest, flying straight for the air scorpion. One of the machine's claws plucked Gideon off of Avatar's back, bringing him close enough to the cockput to see that Roff Stricker himself was at the helm. The hero partners leap from their pterosaurs' backs onto the air scorpion's hull, sabotaging it and freeing Gideon, who climbs the air scorpion's arm to reach the cockpit. He removes the ruby sunstone and, without its power source, the huge machine sinks. Just before impact, a small skimmer shoots out of a cockpit hatch and returns to Poseidos. Back at Highnest, the heroes celebrate their victory, and Avatar presents Gideon with a token he had carved as a symbol of their bond.

The book then returns to Will Denison, who receives a similar token from Cirrus.

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