Robur the Conqueror

or, The Clipper of the Clouds

Cover image for


Author: Jules Verne
Published: 1886
Language: English
Wordcount: 52,420 / 159 pg
Flesch-Kincaid Reading Ease: 63.4
LoC Category: PQ
Downloads: 4,324 7170

In Robur, the Conqueror Verne produces an aerial parallel to the famous "Nautilus," in which Capt. Nemo journeyed so many thousand leagues under the sea. Robur the Conqueror devises an aerial machine called the Albatross, which can be driven 70 miles an hour in the teeth of the wind, and can be managed and steered in any atmospheric conditions, barring the centre of a revolving hurricane. It is an ingenious story, and the sham science with which it is padded gives it an air of sobriety and reality to the average reader.

Show Excerpt

e American.

"I contend, nevertheless, that it was 'Rule Britannia!'"

"And I say it was 'Yankee Doodle!'" replied the young American.

The dispute was about to begin again when one of the seconds-- doubtless in the interests of the milk trade--interposed.

"Suppose we say it was 'Rule Doodle' and 'Yankee Britannia' and adjourn to breakfast?"

This compromise between the national airs of Great Britain and the United States was adopted to the general satisfaction. The Americans and Englishmen walked up the left bank of the Niagara on their way to Goat Island, the neutral ground. between the falls. Let us leave them in the presence of the boiled eggs and traditional ham, and floods enough of tea to make the cataract jealous, and trouble ourselves no more about them. It is extremely unlikely that we shall again meet with them in this story.

Which was right; the Englishman or the American? It is not easy to say. Anyhow the duel shows how great was the excitement, not only in t


Average Rating of 5 from 2 reviews: *****
Henry L. Ratliff

(1886) Sci-fi (Invention) / Adventure (Hostage) / Mystery (Disappearance)

Prequel to 'The Master of the World'.

R: * * * * *

Plot bullets

  • A rather animated meeting of the Weldon Institute is interrupted by a man, who refers to himself only as Robur.

  • Not only does Robur belittle the institutes current controversy, concerning where the propeller should be placed on a 'lighter than air craft' (dirigible), he states that 'heavier than air craft' is the future of air flight.

  • The young attendees rebuke him when he says that he has conquered the air. They call hem 'Robur the Conqueror'.

  • Robur kidnaps the institute's two professors and proceeds on an around the world air journey in his 'heavier than air' ship the Albatross.

  • Nothing is known of their abduction and it appears that the flight is more than a 'proof of concept' flight or even mere revenge.

  • The freedom and lives of the two professors are at the mercy of 'Robur the Conqueror'.


Clipper of the Clouds is typical of several of Verne's novels. The book begins with a lot of detail with the history of flight. Not very exciting, but it does educate the reader in early attempts and lays the groundwork for the book.

The majority of the book reads like a visual diary of their journey around the world. Countries, cities and landmarks are described as they travel through the air. The president and secretary of the Weldon institute, who were abducted by Robur, are ridiculously hard headed and refuse to acknowledge the machine to be superior to anything they could build. All through the book they try to escape and to destroy the "Albatross".

The book ends by Robur proving his point, and leaving the reader wanting to know more about the man and his creation. To the reader of Verne's time, the book would be fascinating. However, today, where anyone can see the world through media, it could be boring.

I found the book fascinating and like 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, I was left dreaming of a brilliant engineer wondering who he was, and wanting to know more!

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