- Paperback: 320 pages
- Publisher: Solaris (30 July 2007)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1844164888
- ISBN-13: 978-1844164882
- Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 2.3 x 22.9 cm
- Average Customer Review: 6 customer reviews
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 5,402,466 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Set the Seas on Fire Paperback – 30 Jul 2007
- Choose from over 13,000 locations across the UK
- Prime members get unlimited deliveries at no additional cost
- Find your preferred location and add it to your address book
- Dispatch to this address when you check out
Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
1808. While Europe burns and the Napoleonic Wars set the world aflame, the HMS Fortitude patrols the sea lanes of the South Pacific, harrying enemies of the British Crown. The Fortitude's captain sets his sights on a Spanish galleon weighted down with a fortune in gold and spices, but Lieutenant Hieronymus Bonaventure thinks the prize not worth the risk. In the midst of Battle the ships are driven apart by storms and far into unknown seas. The galleon and her treasure are lost in the tempest and soon Bonaventure and the rest of the Fortitude's crew find themselves aground on an island in uncharted waters, their ship badly damaged. Whilst they struggle to rebuild their vessel an encounter with the island's natives leads to a discovery of a dark and terrible secret that lurks behind the island's veneer of beauty...
About the Author
"Chris Roberson's novels include HERE, THERE & EVERYWHERE (Pyr, 2005), THE VOYAGE OF NIGHT SHINING WHITE (PS Publishing, 2006), and PARAGAEA: A PLANETARY ROMANCE (Pyr, 2006), and he is the editor of the anthology ADVENTURE VOL. 1 (MonkeyBrain Books, Nov 2005). Roberson has been a finalist for the World Fantasy Award for Short Fiction, the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer, and twice for the Sidewise Award for Best Alternate History Short Form (winning in 2004 with his story ""O One."" He runs the independant press MonkeyBrain books with his partner.
Top customer reviews
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
It has a nice front cover. Erm...and that is pretty much it.
The main problem with this book was that there was hardly any action. For a book called 'Set the Seas on fire' it failed to produce a small spark let alone a fire. Do you remember the river of fire we were promised as part of the millenium celebrations? this was a similar anti-climax.
We start with a British frigate chasing a spanish Galleon but then cut forward in time to the end of the battle when both ships are damaged and seeking a safe land fall. Which kind of sets the tone for the whole story, for example, in a flashback a young Bonaventure challenges a man to duel but then is talked out of it by his older and wiser mentor.
When the ship lands on a remote unchartered island with huge potential for drama we have the crew welcomed with open arms by the natives even though Bonaventure gets the islands champion's girlfriend pregnant. There is a brief run in with some giant headless bats and a small boy accidently takes a shot at the hero with a stolen pistol but that's your lot for the middle part of the book! (some 200 pages) However not to worry a chance encounter with a couple of runaway spanish sailors leads them to hear of the Spanish Galleon now on a seperate island with it's crew driven mad by some malevolent force dwelling there, turning them into feral demons! Aha getting better...
However the author does not bring us the confrontation till the last 30 pages or so and then largely ignores the Spanish 'demons' for some monsters who live in the caves, who from the descriptions I imagined to be mobile versions of the man eating plant from the little shop of horrors.
I just don't know what went wrong, perhaps the writer fell down between the cracks in between the historical and horror elements? But considering the book is described as 'Hornblower meets Lovecraft' (writer of Gothic horror stories) It lacked the action of CS Forester and didn't have any tension, scares or horror either. All odd as the writer has an impressive CV and has written some of the X-men stories, not exactly lacking in action.
Whatever, if it's a horror/ history crossover you are after can I suggest Annodracula or Twelve as much better options than this.
One such author is Chris Roberson, although to say he delves deeply into the depths of this time period would be incorrect. Set the Seas on Fire follows the crew of an English navy vessel as they voyage into the uncharted waters of the Pacific, far away from the war in Europe.
The story starts well. The English crew - and the protagonist, Bonaventure - chase a Spanish ship and later discover from a survivor that the ship's crew disembarked at a distant island and were afflicted by some sort of madness. Naturally the lure of gold proves too strong, and the English crew set off to see if they can find the island and seize the galleon's gold from the crazed Spanish crew.
Roberson's prose is fluid and highly readable, and he generally manages to recreate the feel of the historical period quite well through his characters' dialogue. The early chapters flit between the crew's voyage and Bonaventure's childhood, adding some depth to the protagonist and helping to keep things fresh.
Then it all starts to go wrong.
I have a couple of major criticisms with Set the Seas on Fire, but I'll start with the biggest culprit: the plot. Or, to be more precise, lack of a plot. To be blunt, nothing really happens in this book. After the decent start and the promise of some sort of deranged zombie-like enemies, the English crew de-camp to a tropical paradise and for the next few hundred pages nothing that interesting really happens. Bonaventure develops a relationship with a native girl (handled in a completely unconvincing way), they get attacked by some bat creatures, and some kid steals a gun. That's about it. Sure, there's some interaction with the natives, the odd clash of interests and some shallow exploration of one or two themes, but it's all rather dull.
When the action finally hots up (far too late) it leads to a complete anti-climax of an ending, which just makes you wonder why you bothered reading that far in the first place (particularly as nothing really gets explained). The chapters that focus on Bonaventure's earlier years are disinteresting at best and utterly pointless at worst. You can't have a novel without a story, and Set the Seas on Fire is scuttled by the lack of any meaningful events or genuine excitement.
The other criticism I have relates to the characters. They're just so...boring. Bonaventure - a rather average protagonist - is fleshed out satisfactorily, but generally the rest of the cast have the collective depth of a paddling pool. There's little in the way of character development and most of the supporting characters are completely forgettable. There's not a memorable personality among them. The most interesting figures are the Spanish crazies, so it's disappointing they only appear at the end.
For a novel that has been mooted as "Horatio Hornblower meets H. P. Lovecraft" it is decidedly lacking in atmosphere, and there's no real tension - even when our not-so-intrepid adventurers approach their final destination. The dramatic finale is totally absent.
It's a shame really, as the idea is a good one and Roberson's prose is comfortably engaging. The novel just never builds on the decent start and the lack of entertaining characters and any real semblance of a plot ultimately results in a monotonous novel that doesn't really go anywhere, and offers little in the way of enjoyment for the duration.
Would you like to see more reviews about this item?
Most recent customer reviews