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The Serpent Sea (The Books of the Raksura) Paperback – 3 Jan 2012

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Product details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Night Shade Books; 1 edition (3 Jan 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1597803324
  • ISBN-13: 978-1597803328
  • Product Dimensions: 2.5 x 15.2 x 22.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 908,739 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Sanne on 25 Jan 2012
Format: Paperback
I may be stupid, but I can't find a simple way to leave a star rating without writing a review. Weird.
This is a great book, but it does not have the satisfying conclusion of a final book in a finite series, neither the temporary conclusion of a book in an unending series.
There is apparently a third book in the works, making this a middle book in a trilogy. Unfortunately it hasn't been sold yet, so there is no guarantee that the 'real' ending will ever be available.
The story arch is not as strong as the fall of ile-rien trilogy.
Great worldbuilding. Fantastic characterisation
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Format: Paperback
The Serpent Sea is a wonderful and spellbinding sequel to The Cloud Roads, which was one of the best fantasy books of 2011. It gloriously continues the saga of the shapeshifting Raksura. (Note! The Clouds Roads and The Serpent Sea form a duology, so it's important to read The Cloud Roads before The Serpent Sea.)

In the first book (The Cloud Roads) Moon was banished from his home for being different, because his companions feared him and his ability to shapeshift. He found out that there are other beings like him and he found himself a new home among the Raksura of the Indigo Cloud Court. This was the fascinating start of an excellent fantasy series, which continues to gather more depth in this sequel.

Here's a bit of information about the plot of The Serpent Sea:
- In The Serpent Sea Martha Wells reveals more things about the Three Worlds and its inhabitants. The events take place shortly after the events in The Cloud Roads.
- The Serpent Sea tells how the Raksura arrive at the old colony tree of the Indigo Cloud Court. They notice that somebody has stolen the seed of their colony tree. The seed is important for the Raksura, because it turns a normal tree into a colony tree (without the seed the tree will rot from the inside), so they decide to find the stolen seed.
- There's much at stake in The Serpent Sea, because the future of the ancestral home of the Indigo Cloud Court depends on how well the quest to find the stolen seed succeeds. The quest takes Moon across the Serpent Sea.

That's all I'll write about the plot, because I don't want to write spoilers. I'd like to write more, but I think it's wise not to spoil anybody's reading pleasure by too many revelations.

I like the Raksura characters very much.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 87 reviews
24 of 24 people found the following review helpful
excellent, gorgeous, satisfying fantasy 3 Jan 2012
By Erin Satie - Published on
Format: Paperback
I enjoyed THE CLOUD ROADS without being convinced that I wanted to continue with the series. I jumped on the chance to do an advance review of THE SERPENT SEA because I wanted to find out if Martha Wells could make a fan of me. The answer? Yup. She can, and did. I loved THE SERPENT SEA.

One reviewer described the plot of THE CLOUD ROADS as Moon discovering that he's been "Cursed by Awesome," and, at the time, I agreed. Poor baby discovers he's been born into a high caste, what's to complain about, right? But in THE SERPENT SEA I began to see what a perfect choice Moon's position as a consort really is.

Raksura consorts are basically trophy wives. As a consort, Moon has status but no real power. But Moon isn't content to be pampered and impotent, which means he's not content to fill the traditional role of consort. He likes to keep busy and he's a natural authority figure. So, yes, he's got enough rank to rub elbows with the movers and shakers but he has to earn every bit of authority that comes his way and constantly defend his choice to step outside of his allotted role.

The plot has the Indigo Cloud court on a mission to recover the stolen seed of their mountain-tree. They encounter obstacles on the way to completing their quest, as on the way Moon finds himself trying to play the part of a perfect consort at a foreign court, dealing with a solitary Raksura that reminds him all too much of himself, and battling a power-hungry magician.

As in THE CLOUD ROADS, Wells' descriptions of the Three Realms' landscapes kept me enthralled. It's just such a pleasure to imagine all the little details, from the mountain-tree where the Indigo Cloud court hopes to settle, with its glowing shells and fantastical carvings, to the floating city where most of the novel takes place.

I read THE SERPENT SEA in one sitting, and loved every page. It's more relaxing than heart-pounding, but I found that I relished every minute I spent with in Wells' marvelous landscapes among the Raksura. Four very enthusiastic stars.
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
Please Purchase and Look Forward to Book 3! 5 Jan 2012
By Amazon Customer - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I devoured the Cloud Roads, and purchased the Serpent Sea as soon as it was available. The novel continues the journey of Moon and the Indigo Cloud Raksura. It's basically a standard "search for the magical object that will fix everything" type story. However, the book is very well executed.

I also really liked that this book explored a lot more of Raksura culture, and the chance to look at another Raksura court. The idea of Moon as an outsider comes more strongly into play in this novel than the first novel, and I really enjoyed reading about how he struggled to come to terms with his status.

Otherwise, I did not like this novel as much as the first. I still stayed up all night reading it, but I didn't feel like all the story strings were as neatly woven and snipped off as in the first novel. Honestly, I finished it feeling only partially fulfilled, because (while we do get resolution as to the major plot points) I don't feel like I got resolution as to the characters and their development/interactions. Without giving too much away, I felt like the characters were on the verge of discovering things about themselves and never quite crossed that point. They seemed to sort of back off from embracing the dramatic emotional/character changes that an epic journey would have made, and almost reverting back to their pre-Serpent Sea selves.

It made we wonder if, perhaps, a third novel is in the works?

Well, despite that, I definitely would not hesitate to buy another Raksura novel, and highly recommend this one.

UPDATE: Rumor has it there IS in fact a book 3, but it has not been purchased by a publisher yet. So, please purchase a copy of the Serpent Sea. I'd really like to see a book 3 :)

UPDATE 2: Thank you fellow purchasers, we're getting a book 3 (and thank you Anthrophile for letting me know)!!!!!!!!!!!! According to Anthrophile, the book will be called The Siren Depths and will hopefully still be out in January or February of 2013. If you liked this book, look forward to it!
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
I want a third book of this series. Stat! 18 April 2012
By Professor J - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I freaking LOVE these books. The first book caught me by surprise, but I loved it so much jumped on the second like a starving fledgling on a grasseater.

Because the Books of the Raksura contain some of the most original, exotic, and beautiful fantasy worldbuilding I've ever seen. Those of you who complain that there's nothing new in fantasy, read these. Here is plausible ecology and biology mingled with magic in a way that feels almost science fictional. Here are created, magical races drawn with believable complexity -- none of that essentialist "always chaotic evil" crap we're so used to seeing in fantasy, and plenty of diversity and history and mystery. That the Raksura resemble shapeshifting dragons is irrelevant; they're people, human without being human, and Wells does a marvelous job of treating these people as well-rounded and flawed characters whose struggles you can't help but care about.

In this outing, Moon -- recently and uneasily accepted into the Indigo Cloud court -- travels with the group to their ancestral home, where they mean to make a new start after nearly being destroyed by the Fell in the last book. They find a paradise of giant mountain-trees and forests that stretch for miles, waterfalls and plentiful game, and unearthly beauty. However, the seed which keeps their mountain-tree alive has been stolen, and Moon -- as the member of the group with the most experience at dealing with other races -- must help his new tribe track it down before the tree dies.

If there's any critique I have for these books, it's that the characters are sometimes sketched a little thinly -- but given how much time and attention has been given to the setting, I'm not sure that's really a flaw. My sense is that some of the thinness I feel is actually Wells trying to convey that the characters really aren't human. For example, Pearl's behavior frequently makes no sense (the other characters comment on it) until you realize that this is how queens are supposed to act; it's one of the ways they maintain dominance over others. The only reason we don't understand it is because Moon, a stranger to his own people, doesn't understand it. As he gains understanding, it all fits together.

Spoiler: I especially liked those chapters wherein Moon and Jade visit the Emerald Twilight court, and Moon must find a way to master consort etiquette -- when a just few months before he didn't even know the name of his own species. I also loved that we get to know more about characters who intrigued me in the first book: Flower the acerbic and grandmotherly mentor, Stone -- snarkier than ever in this outing -- and Moon himself. I love that we get to see a "real" solitary, and gain more understanding of why the Raksura are so suspicious of them. And holy crap, Jade. I love watching her play diplomat and maneuver her way through various politically-delicate scenarios, but there's a chapter near the end of the book in which she basically cries havoc and lets slip the claws of war, and it's beautifully bloody. I've always loved the treatment of gender in this series: women who are stronger than men and the men who love them for it; gender roles that are neither stereotypical nor simple reversals. All Raksura are formidable, but it's made very clear in this book that the role of a queen is to be the baddest mf on the planet. I see now why Moon loves her.

So read this book. And go tell your friends to read it, because I want it to sell well so we can get a third visit to the Three Realms.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Worldbuilding and Characters 3 Jan 2012
By OtterB - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I've been a fan of Martha Wells for years. Her Raksura series, of which this is the second, highlights her two great strengths, worldbuilding and characters. This book is set in a fascinating, richly imagined world with multiple intelligent species. There's not a stereotype in sight: no elf-and-dwarf analogues, no thinly-disguised Earth cultures, no generic fantasy quest. There are cities, forests, trade, airships. There are races of shapeshifters (who are nothing at all like werewolves) and many other kinds of people. All are vividly sketched in, with finely selected details that bring the locations and the individuals to life. There is nuance; Moon, the protagonist, is clearly a good guy but he's neither flawless nor universally loved. There are antagonists, but not all are villains.

If you haven't yet read The Cloud Roads, I'd recommend starting there. You'll be missing a lot of the fun if you don't know the backstory as you begin this book. There are clues and reminders of past history, so I think it's probably possible to start here, but I don't know why'd you'd deprive yourself to do so.

In this book, I enjoyed seeing Moon develop his relationship with Jade and the others of Indigo Cloud. I loved the new locations they visited, especially the Indigo Court old home location and the new city. (Trying to avoid spoilers here.) I enjoyed the humor, which isn't "jokes" and usually not even witty banter, but humor that groups naturally out of the interaction between characters.

I'm usually not a big visual imagery person, but I'd love to see this series made into a movie.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Third-culture kid makes good 30 April 2012
By H Waterhouse - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Poor Moon is the ultimate third-culture kid. After a lifetime of learning to fit into any culture that will take him in, he is applying those skills to Raskura culture, but it sometimes feels fake and put on to him, like this is just another performance to fit in so he doesn't get kicked out. At the same time, everyone else is expecting him to be like them because he looks like them, and he fakes it well enough for them to forget he wasn't always here.

The plot is a well-executed quest story to save the beautifully-described ancestral home. Moon and Jade and a handful of other people end up on an adventure to a really weird city. Moon is useful to the group, which makes him feel like he might actually get to stay. He still feels threatened and edgy, but Jade is pretty clear about her feelings for him.

I thought the resolution was nice, in that there's no drastic cliffhanger, but you would like to know how act three is going to go. My one complaint is that I would like to know more about what's going on in Stone's head. I find him pretty interesting, and he was obviously thinking a bunch of stuff, but I don't know what it was.

Read if: You are a fan of the first book, or Wells' ongoing exploration of what it means to be part of a community. You love worldbuilding that has many very different cultures. You'd like to see Moon's relationship with Jade evolve.

Skip if: You haven't yet read the first book, or you don't like people floundering to find out who they are.
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