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The Reef Paperback – 24 Mar 2008

3.5 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 350 pages
  • Publisher: Pendragon Press, Maesteg (24 Mar. 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0955445264
  • ISBN-13: 978-0955445262
  • Product Dimensions: 23.2 x 15.6 x 2.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,941,602 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


"A promising new writer whose prose is dynamic and whose imagination is often startling." -- Jeff Vandermeer

"The Reef is a fascinating exploration into mysterious lands and the mysteries of the human heart." -- Jeffrey Thomas

From the Back Cover

Has-jahn: a continent of exotic cultures, cities and long-forgotten technology. Two members of a race once thought extinct wash up on the shores near the city of Escha. In their possession is a call for help from a human living on the little-known tropical island of Arya, where their race is being murdered. A crew of freelance explorers, led by the charismatic Santiago DeBrelt, travels to discover the mystery behind the killings. However, Santiago's controversial nature leads to him being accompanied by government agents -- who wish to explore Arya and find out why Eschan naval vessels have disappeared in the seas surrounding it.

Meanwhile, on the outskirts of Rhoam, a city in central Has-jahn, a band of terrorists are embarking upon an epic journey to the very same waters. Still angry from an old war with Escha, they've gathered explosives and weapons, and will allow nothing to interfere with their quest for a phenomenal revenge. But secret pasts are revealed and soon all eyes turn to the coral reef off the coast of Arya.

Customer Reviews

3.5 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

By A. Whitehead TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 25 May 2009
Format: Paperback
When I read Nights of Villjamur a few weeks back, I noted that the book was being marketed as the author's debut. However, I had noticed Mark Newton's name on another book in my local Waterstones. Some research quickly revealed that Nights is actually the author's second novel. The first, The Reef, was published last year by small UK publisher Pendragon. Having enjoyed Nights, I decided to give it a whirl.

In the city of Escha, a scientist named Manolin is trapped in a difficult marriage with a demanding and paranoid wife. When his mentor and friend Santiago DeBrelt suggests an ocean trip to investigate distressing news from a scientist on the island of Arya, Manolin leaps at the chance and soon a disparate crew of researchers are on their way to the distant island. Meanwhile, in the city of Rhoam, a rumel woman named Jella is putting into operation a plan years in the making, a plan to avenge herself on Escha, the city which destroyed her life and that of her people. Her mission takes her and her companions to the coast, and to a ship bound for Arya...

The Reef is an intriguing novel. Although the events that unfold have potentially huge ramifications for the continent of Has-jahn and the rest of the world, it's largely a small-scale story focusing on the island of Arya and those who visit it. Whilst the novel is apparently about a mystery - who is behind a spate of murders on the island - it's actually much more of a character study, particularly looking at the dynamics of relationships and desire. The book succeeds admirably at both tasks, with the mystery unfolding satisfyingly and the book's comments on relationships interesting and thought-provoking.
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Format: Paperback
Terrifyingly good new writer. Manages to combine real world marine biology with mythical/fantastical creatures, making vampir and sirens as believable as rocks and molluscs. The descriptions are vibrant, with detailed passages alternating with fast, one sentence paragraphs. You could read this book simply as an adventure, with two main threads taking turns to get you hooked, plenty of mystery and unpredictability, with an intelligent backstory of war, massacre. But it is MUCH more than that, as it's really a study of human nature, sex, relationships, psychology. Yet its reflections are always grounded, thoughts on gender differences and animal VS humanity, science versus spirituality are contained, we get different viewpoints; the book is eco-aware but wants to explore, ask questions rather than preach or moralise. Every character is sympathetic, even the unfaithful young wife at the start. The diverse cast contains so many relationships, tensions, motivations, from inter-specific homosexuality to father-young son and the young understudy turning away from his ageing teacher. Everyone is flawed, it all gets messy but it's never one-sided and there's often comedy to alleviate the darker moments such as childhood bereavment and miscarriage. And the Santiago character is genius, so many of the ideas come from him but he's also self-aware of his own excesses and ageing perversion.

Not just for fantasy fans then - it will appeal to devotees of Mieville (and the late, great Michael G. Coney!) but its marine travels and dynamic, descriptive prose put it (almost) on a par with Conrad and Hemingway, which isn't bad for a debut. Support the new authors and independent publishers! And roll on next year for the next book coming out on Macmillan where everyone will hear about it. Forget "The Beach", this is "The Reef"!
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Format: Paperback
A friend gave me this to read and I really enjoyed it. Contains some beautiful writing, and a contemporary ecological theme: almost a hymn to the environment at times. The plot is fantastical without being laboured -- no orcs, goblins or other Tolkienesque cliches -- and the book as a whole is an intelligent, well-written fantasy with a unique and interesting focus. I could write more about how it investigates mans' inhumanity to himself and to nature, but I don't want to get too pretentious! Recommended.
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Format: Paperback
I picked this book up from the clearance bin at my local bookstore. The summary sounded appealing and the first few pages really sucked me in. I read a lot of sci-fi and fantasy and I was excited to have found an author I hadn't read before.
Sadly the book did not live up to my expectations. Firstly, it is absolutely packed with typos and spelling and grammatical errors. Secondly the author appears to have very little grasp of writing complex adult relationships. Thirdly, characters behaviors and attitudes are aggravatingly inconsistent. Lastly, the plot is horrifically paced with eighty or so pages of almost nothing happening, followed by an abrupt and shallow conclusion.
What was most disappointing was that the book has a lot of potential. Some of the characters feel like they could have been very interesting and the plot idea is unusual and intriguing. Such a shame that it was so poorly executed.
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