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Sea of Ghosts (The Gravedigger Chonicles) Paperback – 12 Apr 2012

4.3 out of 5 stars 42 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Tor; Reprints edition (12 April 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0330508784
  • ISBN-13: 978-0330508780
  • Product Dimensions: 13.1 x 2.6 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (42 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 307,997 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


'The start of a thrilling new fantasy series by the author of the Deepgate series. Warfare, telepaths and metallic dragons hold sway in a bleak and dangerous flooded world, where a poisonous sea make everyday living almost impossible.' --The Bookseller

'A truly fantastic tale... an accomplished and original achievement... his invented world is one of the most bizarre, fascinating and dangerous it has been my pleasure to encounter... the story grips like a vice, filled with mystery and action, and there is a rich vein of black humour running through the strangeness.' --The Times

'Rampant imagination is allied with unusually rich writing.' --Morning Star

'Rich, detailed, vibrant and totally unlike anything that you've read before, the setting comes across as a heavily steampunked Bioshock laden down with bizarre weaponry, strange ships, telepaths, magic, strange contraptions, weird science, poisoned seas and even mechanical dragon... Already this is earmarked as one of the books of the year. If there's any justice in the world then Sea of Ghosts will break Campbell out into the première league of UK fantasy writers, it's endlessly imaginative and impressively ambitious, but it's also a hugely fun adventure story that keeps up a relentless pace, leaving you with a cliff-hanger ending that will have you gasping for the next book in double-quick time.' --Sci-Fi-London

'Sea of Ghosts is a stonking good time, rip-roaring and boundlessly ambitious - a breathless, whistle-stop tour of a wonderfully moldering world one can only glee in imagining the stories Campbell is set to tell in. Onwards, I say! And upwards, I do not doubt.' --The Speculative Scotsman

'Sea of Ghosts is a highly entertaining novel highlighted by cinematic pacing, exhilarating action sequences, and unexpected moments of dark violence' --Fantasy Book Critic --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Book Description

The first book in the Gravedigger Chronicles

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Stefan VINE VOICE on 29 Mar. 2011
Format: Hardcover
This is the first novel I've read by Scottish author Alan Campbell, and it is easily one of the best I've read in years. This novel is almost indescribably good.

The Sea of Ghosts is a novel of honour, revenge, loyalty and perseverance, set in a world ravaged by unfathomable science and magic. Falsely accused of treason, the surviving members of the Gravediggers are forced to go underground, or flee the imperial capital altogether. Granger, our hero, has fled to Ethugra with his comrade Creedy. Ethugra is a twisted, darker version of Venice, if you were to replace the palazzos and fine architecture with multiple jails, constantly in need of repair and modification as the toxic and caustic seas continue to rise.

Campbell's characters are universally realistic and complex. Granger's sense of honour is frequently tested by his chosen profession (that of jailer), and his life is turned upside down after Ianthe arrives, creating an irreparable rift between him and his former comrade-in-arms. As events progress, we see just how determined Granger is to make up for past mistakes. He also reveals a MacGuyver-esque ingenuity that serves him well as we follow him on his personal journey. Ianthe is a tragic figure, someone who has only experienced a world intent on taking advantage of her gifts, never looking out for her best interests; as she deals with the multiple factions intent on harnessing her powers for their own ends, she comes to develop a very harsh world view, and some of her choices and actions are quite chilling.

Campbell introduces more perspectives as the novel progresses, and we gain a more nuanced picture of the protagonists and nominal antagonists of the novel.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
The sea is toxic and gradually rising and the world reduced to a few isolated island archipelagoes. Society is brutal, exploitative and feudal. Thomas Granger is a hunted man and his daughter is a valuable political and scientific commodity. Read on...

I picked this up on no more than a whim after spotting it's rather striking cover art on the "recommended" section at the bookshop and, a few short days later, I put it down again, pretty much blown away. OK, so I'm no steampunk afficionado so I guess that some who do know the genre well may ho and hum and pass it off as nothing out of the ordinary, but for me, Sea of Ghosts was a real revelation.

For a start, "steampunk" doesn't quite do it justice. The setting is alien and yet so vestigially familiar. Does it take place on a future earth? A parallel earth? An alternative earth? Nowhere on earth? I am still not entirely sure that the protagonists are even //human// and I was waiting for the twist to come where it was revealed that they were in fact three headed gorgons or highly evolved fish or something wierd like that and that the story's aliens (the magical Unmer) were in fact humans (the twist didn't happen, by the way). That is how clever the story actually is - it takes a profoundly strange environment to keep you guessing and yet weaves tantalising threads of familiarity to ensnare you.

The world is an extremely rich one despite it's apocalyptically diluvian flaw - a sort of watery Dune on steroids, where magic and science are a part of everyday life, peopled by strange monsters, strange humans and strange aliens. It is not, however, a nice story.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I heard someone recently identify a seperate branch of fantasy as 'new weird'. Well this is a twig on that branch as Campbell does weird as well as anyone!

For all that, there were a few very familiar themes here. A world being gradually poisoned and a world seeming littered with magical items left behind by an elder race now in rapid decline. However! The gradual spoiling of the earth is not (thank the lord) an encroaching ice age or some sort of thorny blight, it is a poisonous brine being released into the oceans by thousands of little ornate bottles dropped into the sea by the Unmer (said elder race)out of spite as man aided by a coven of psychics throw off their slave chains and rise up to gain the upper hand.

The result is a very peculiar place! Cities rising on top of the flooded cities of the past, trovers diving down to the old streets looking for magical artifacts and most strange of all the seas haunted by the shark skinned drowned who are preserved by the poisonous liquid.

Add to this world a cast of largely ruthless and self serving folk with the noteable exception of the main hero. A former soldier betrayed by his emperor and living in exile. His struggles to rescue his daughter make the central thread of this tale.
That said, the most compelling figure is a sociapathic scientist who is determined to unlock the mystery of the Unmers powers. When I say determined that is perhaps the understatement of the century and he will allow nothing and no one to stand in his way! This sets up the confrontation between two equally resourceful men that will, I guess, run for a further two volumes.

There were a couple of minor flaws that just (but only just) stopped me giving this the full 5 stars.
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