The Sauder Diaries take place in an alternate-history Earth, in the year 1888. The Crimean War ended as a stalemate and Europe is divided along the Allied and Russian Imperial borders by the Scorchlands. Large sections of “civilized Europe” cannot be traveled due to bandits, renegade armies, and rogue mad science experiments.
Hans Sauder is the son of a German industrialist, on his way to University to study airship engineering. His passenger airship is attacked by the legendary pirate ship the Bloody Rose. Hans is taken prisoner and given the choice of joining the crew, or taking his chances with parachuting into the wilds of Europe.
Thus begins the “diaries”, detailing his travels — the reader is first treated to Hans' impressions of events and then gets to see what really happened.
Hans and his new crewmates are hunted by the airship navies of Allied Europe, chased into hiding in Egypt, board merchant ships over Germany, and visit hidden black market trade centers. Things really get rough when they are hired to undertake a dangerous mission in the skies of the Russian Empire.
As the story unfolds, Hans' new life is further complicated by the romantic advances of the leader of the ship's gunner-marines, a ruthless and no-nonsense woman with a chip on her shoulder. As well, Hans is perpetually dogged by a deep conflict between his sense of morals and duty to his family, and the challenges and adventure of this new life he has discovered.
He had made remarkable friends, found an improbable love, fought, killed, saved lives, wept and laughed all over a half-a-mile in the sky for three remarkable months. He knew what it was he had been missing his entire life.
“But I cannot stay,” he said quietly to himself.