high seas

House of the Four Winds: Too long-winded for me

housefourwinds The House of the Four Winds (One Dozen Daughters #1) by Mercedes Lackey, James Mallory
Tor Books: August 5th, 2014 (Fantasy)*

My Rating: The plane was delayed, the luggage lost, and the museums closed. And it rained. The whole time. (1/5)

Argh! This was one of the more frustrating books I’ve read all year. Mercedes Lackey was a favorite author of mine growing up, but this latest, a collaboration with James Mallory, had only a wisp of the entertainment I used to get out of Lackey’s Valdemar novels (I recommend those). Everything felt flat and slow. I’m not interested in slogging through passages, pages, and chapters of “sea life” and internal monologues about what falling in love feels like. I want action, adventure, romance, danger, suspense… none of which ever materialized in this novel. Word to the wise: don’t judge a book by its (amazing, gorgeous) cover…

Based on the description and the opening passages, I thought this would be a swashbuckler. Princess Clarice, eldest of twelve or something sisters, is sent off by her parents to see the world and make a living. She chooses to be a swordmaster, Mr. Clarence Swann. The next time something interesting happens, she’s boarding a ship to get to the new world. And what follows are bland descriptions of her bland friendship with the ship’s navigator, bland tales of the awkward dinners at the Captain’s tables, and even a bland recounting of a mutiny. The only exciting moment being the fight that Clarice gets involved in during the mutiny. So for the first half of the book, it’s not a tale of a young woman disguised as a man who struggles to be (accepted as) a swordmaster, it’s a tale of a young woman disguised as a man who sails on a ship for weeks and weeks. (more…)

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Adventure and intrigue on the high seas in ‘Child of a Hidden Sea’

hidden seaChild of a Hidden Sea by A. M. Dellamonica
Macmillan-Tor/Forge, June 24, 2014 (Adventure/Fantasy)*

My rating: I’d go there again! (4/5) 

How to start an adventure and intrigue on the high seas: Take an intrepid young woman, confident in her scuba diving, climbing, and wilderness survival abilities, curious about biology, and self-conscious about her ability to express herself. Have her witness an attack on her aunt while stalking her birth mother. Toss her onto a different Earth, where the sea extends so far that the nations are all island nations, and all the modes of travel on the sea. Add magic, in the form of writing inscriptions using people’s true names. Mix in some truly intriguing characters, including a genius brother, a jealous half-sister, a stiff ship captain, a promiscuous horse and spider breeder, and some villainous pirates and bigots.

I loved Child of a Hidden Sea. It ticked all my favorite boxes, with a strong but vulnerable heroine, a realistic sibling relationship, romance, sailing, adventure, swords(!), monsters and exotic locales, mystery and suspense. (more…)