This is the second book in the Chathrand Voyage series, following on from The Red Wolf Conspiracy. That was a giant rollercoaster of a book, and this one is too – nearly 700 pages long. It had been a while since I read the first book (other things kept getting in the way) and I was worried that I wouldn’t remember who was who or what was going on, but within the first few pages it had all come back to me, so that was good.
The action picks up straight from the end of the first book, with Thasha about to be married as the bride destined to bring peace to the Mzithrin and Arqual Empires. But as we know, and some of the others are starting to discover, there’s an awful lot more at stake than peace between two warring Empires; old enemies are already starting to resurface and they mean to bring about the end of all unless they are stopped. For Pazel Pathkendle personally, there are secrets that he has not as yet uncovered.
This is a seafaring voyage worthy of the greats; the Chathrand, mighty in size and scope voyages south on its own mission under Captain Rose. The whole book is consumed with their voyage, and it’s a testimony to the author’s skill in narrative and characterisation that there is not one wasted word or gesture within the book. The scope is huge and ambitious, and brilliantly carried off. I look forward immensely to the next two books in the series, themselves large volumes but which promise to tell the next riveting exciting chapters of the the Chathrand voyages. Brilliant; if you’re looking for an epic saga, this is the one to look at.
on 27 January 2010
THE RATS AND THE RULING SEA is the second book in the Chathrand Voyage saga, and the follow-up to the Robert Redick's epic fantasy THE RED WOLF CONSPIRACY. In it, we are reunited with the many characters that made up the first book in the tale: tarboys Pazel and Neeps, the admiral's daughter, Thasha Isiq, Captain Nilus Rose, Ignus Chadfellow, and the copper-eyed Ixchel, Diadrelu, to name but a few. The cast of the novels is immense.
For those unfamiliar with the first book, the story largely takes place aboard a six hundred year old ship, named the Chathrand. The vessel is monstrous in size, dwarfing all others around her. The size of the ship (with its multitude of decks and locations) gives huge scope for a number of goings on, from stowaways, to secret meetings, and a few things one might not wish to be aboard.
The story picks up immediately from where the first book ended, with the wedding of the Thasha Isiq, the Treaty Bride, to her destined prince, aimed at uniting two warring empires and cementing an ever-lasting peace between them. Things do not, however, work out as planned and the Chathrand prepares to set sail across the dangerous waters of the Ruling Sea, a journey so perilous that only she might be capable of doing so.
All the while during the crossing, a number of factions are formed, many with one goal in mind: getting to the Nilstone. Some, such as the sorcerer Arunis wish to use it for their own devious purposes, whilst others, such as Pazel, Neeps and Thasha seek a way to destroy it. Doing so, however, is far easier said than done, since the stone has the power to immediately kill anyone with fear in their heart. Which basically means anyone.
The novel is certainly much darker than the first, both in the treatment of the characters with one another and the overall mood. One scene that stood out for me in particular involved Admiral Isiq, locked in a cell with a number of statued dead people. Pitch black and with no one to talk to, he begins to hear unsettling sounds coming from somewhere within his prison. At first, it seemed that it might be coming from the statues. In fact, it is far worse.
There was also a major character death in the book, which left me wondering for a moment if it really had happened.
One of the aspects that I loved about THE RED WOLF CONSPIRACY was the concept of "woken animals" - essentially an animal that has become self-aware and conscious, and with the added ability to now speak. This is an aspect that is explored in a lot more depth in RATS, and one which leads to aquite startling revelation.
Pazel and Thasha's love-hate game continues, with Pazel finding many times to be jealous of the attention the young lady receives from others aboard the Great Ship. The seashell, embedded in his collarbone by a jealous murth-girl, that flares and causes him pain any time he feels warmth for Thasha, didn't really help matters either.
Redick's world building is staggering, leaving the reader feeling very much as though they have been transported to another world. To that end, I would've liked to have had a glossary at the back of the book, if only to remind myself of who some of the characters and places from the first book were. But that's likely just me.
Other than that, THE RATS AND THE RULING SEA is a full of surprises, political wrangling, intrigue and action. I very much look forward to the third book, THE RIVER OF SHADOWS.
Note: This was originally a trilogy, but will now be four books.
on 19 January 2010
I read and enjoyed The Red Wolf Conspiracy earlier this year and was looking forward to The Rats and the Ruling Sea since putting it down. The world building and characterisation that Redick gave in the first book was something that hooked me and gave that feeling that made me want to read The Rats and the Ruling Sea so much. Despite being longer, this book is just as enjoyable and opens up ome very interesting situations by the time the last page is turned...
We still follow Pazel, Thasha and co. and most of the story is told through their eyes, although Arunis is still plotting and scheming to ensure his ends are met. There are some interesting developments in relationships during the story and not all are expected which adds the element of not quite knowing what to expect. The ongoing quest of those marked by the Red Wolf is one of the more interesting threads and gives a deeper perspective of what is at stake and what needs to be done to stop the Arunis and his plans for the Shaggat. While some characters are explored more deeply than others the overall cast contribute well to the whole and this makes The Rats and the Ruling Sea a deeply involved and pleasurable reading experience. Without such strong characters I doubt I would have enjoyed reading this as much as I did.
The most enjoyable aspect for me was the world in which The Rats and the Ruling Sea is set. While there is noticeably less world building going on here compared to The Red Wolf Conspiracy, what is explored is deeply satisfying. With the voyage to take the Chathrand across the Ruling Sea we get little glimpses of what to expect here and there throughout the story, but Redick certainly delivers when we finally set foot on the new land at the end of the story - what a way to conclude this part of the story!
I really did enjoy the way the story continued here and I'm looking forward to see where book 3 takes us. This is one series that I'm thoroughly enjoying!
on 16 December 2009
It isn't just the engaging, compelling characters who make The Rats and The Ruling Sea so enthralling; it's the entire complex world that Redick has created. The intricacy of his details make the world of the novel and the people in it not just plausible, but real and gritty. Plots unfold at every turn, and no one, including the reader, knows who to trust. Betrayal comes from where you least suspect and the results break your heart. The only bad thing about this book is that it ended after only 592 pages. I want more!
This is the sequel to the equally gripping Red Wolf Conspiracy--both are complex, multi-layered tales full of twists and turn and Machiavellian scheming on all sides. The story here carries on the struggles of the two young protagonists, Thasha and Pazel, as they try to stop a conspiracy that threatens the entire world. The odds are against them as they face Thasha's arranged marriage and equally arranged death, a madman, a powerful mage and an artifact that kills on contact, lies, half-truths and shipboard rats who are sentient, organized and fanatically religious. The magic that might save them might doom them equally, and even the wisest among them are stunned at the surprises they confront.
In lesser hands, this story might become overwhelmed at the intricate details and worldbuilding, but Redick keeps his plot moving at a controlled but brisk pace. This is the kind of rich, meaty, can't put it down book that comes along rarely. How wonderful to have another book coming--and how long the wait will be.
on 27 August 2011
I do like the setting for this series - the giant ship is a good idea. There's nothing wrong with the world-building and the general storyline. I rather enjoyed the first book and expected to enjoy this one in the same way. Each scene was fine - well written and intrigue happening all over the place. But as I went on and on through the breezeblock-sized book, I began to wonder whether anything was really going to happen. There were lots of little happenings, each interesting enough in itself, but the overall plot was getting nowhere.
I ploughed through to the end, and very little had actually been achieved by either side. Still plenty of intrigue happening, a few changes made along the way, but I was beginning to lose the will to live. The author can certainly write, but he really needed his editor to insist that he cut the book down to half its length. That would have made a far tighter, more engaging work. I'd have had far less desire to start banging people's heads together, or to yell at them to get on with it. If I spend a lot of time reading a book, I want more reward than watching the characters run around in circles.
I decided not to bother reading the rest of the story, and a friend who read the third one has got fed up and quit too.
Nice try, but more meat and less fat, please.