First off, I think it's odd that the blurb calls this his first historical novel. Yep, it's set in Victorian-times, but it's set in an imaginary island...So - contrary to the blurb statement - I think this is far more steam punk - fantasy/science fiction, set in a steam power world with fictional technologies.
That said - this is a cracking read - great for boys, especially.
Conor's birth is eventual - born, slightly prematurely, in a hotair balloon under attack from gunfire. Thus his love of flight.
His father is the right-hand man of King Nikos, ruler of said imaginary island. And Conor becomes close friends with the crown princess. Behind the scenes, however, lurks someone who wants it all for himself.
As a teenager Conor's life falls apart when his trusted tutor/mentor is framed for the assassination of the king, and killed. Conor himself is framed as co-conspirator (as he is led to believe) and shipped off to the prison islands, bullied and persecuted. He finds a friend and a new identity, totally loosing himself.
When the chance comes, Conor must decide whether to regain himself and his family - or just seek revenge.