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on 5 December 2007
Between a mysterious past and a treacherous future lies one lost man - and a magic that has changed the world forever....

After years of exile, shattered dreams, and confusion, Josan has finally discovered he is not the simple monk he appeared to be. Nor is he the victim of a mysterious fever, as he was led to believe. Instead his soul had been magically shifted into the body of the condemned Prince Lucius, leader of a failed rebellion against the rightful monarchs of the kingdom of Ikaria. And though Josan is the dominant personality in that body, the remnants of Lucius's mind grow stronger each day.

When the Ikarian royal family is slaughtered in a bloody assassination, Josan/Lucius is not only the prime suspect but the sole remaining legitimate heir to the throne. With Ikaria in chaos, can Josan clear himself from suspicion in time to keep the wolves from the door? And can he ever integrate the two souls that now inhabit a single body?

This is fantastic book to get your teeth into, the plot is excitingly original and will have your eyes positivly glued to every page as we follow Josan and Lucius try to reclaim there rightfull place on the throne and stay alive. this was a very good read and had a very unexpected ending.i will definitely be perchasing her other novels. thumbs up.
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on 28 May 2008
I ordered this book because I'd read the Sword of Change series, and loved Devlin's story (highly recommended, if you haven't read them yet). I therefore knew I'd enjoy Bray's next work. The Sea Change is the middle of a trilogy, yet having not read The First Betrayal, I must admit for once I did not feel the lack. As with any trilogy, no doubt there is much to be gained from reading the first book, not least engaging with the central character - in this case, characters - but the logical way that Bray has broken up the story means that this book can be read and enjoyed without having read the first book.

This story is told from 2 perspectives, or three if you understand that the monk Josan and the royal Prince Lucius share one body between them. The other perspective is that of Master Trader Ysobel - sea merchant by inclination, and in the first book of the series, a co conspirator with Lucius in the unsuccessful attempt to steal the throne from Empress Nerissa, the rightful ruler of Ikaria - the kingdom that Lucius and Josan are from. Ysobel is from the Federation of Seddon, who would take advantage of any political unrest in their larger, powerful neighbour.

The book begins with the murder of all Empress Nerissa's royal family save one, the betrayer prince, Lucius. A suspect in their murder while having been under house arrest during it, Lucius/Josan is first interrogated and then established as a figurehead ruler, ironically fulfilling his wish to become Emperor but very much as a political pawn of the council. With no freedom, power or funds, Lucius / Josan must use their skills not only to stay alive and out of danger, but to better their situation and remove themselves from the influence who seek to use the new Emperor.

In the meanwhile, Ysobel becomes immersed in Federation politics in turn. The Federation are hoping to take advantage of an unsettled Ikaria. Their strength being the sea, they have co-opted merchant vessels such as Ysobel's, and begin to clear the area of `pirate' ships, retaking harbour towns and stationing themselves at strategic locations to do so. While determined to not be political following the disastrous coup attempt to which Ysobel was party, nonetheless to prove her loyalty Ysobel must comply with Federation goals.

There are a number of things I really liked about this book. The two kingdoms concerned are distinctly drawn, the various secondary characters certainly are entities in themselves, with similarities and differences that are not necessarily cultural - for example the Council members of both countries have similar political motivations with resultant similar mindsets.

However what I enjoyed the most was that Josan, Lucius and Ysobel are all very different from each other. The contrast is marked in that Josan and Lucius share a body, but are not of a single mind about anything. They differ on almost any point except the matter of their survival. And although we hear mostly from Josan, that does not mean that Josan is more right, perceptive or has any higher quality of character than Lucius. They are products of their very different personalities and upbringings. Ysobel is different again - coolly calculating on one hand, but clear sighted.

It is not until the last few pages that the reader sees them together again, and I found it interesting that Ysobel told of that meeting. How she analyses everything such as what Lucius is wearing, the way he walks with her and interprets that as to how Lucius views her is absolutely fascinating. Certainly if Josan is `wearing' their shared body at the time, I'm not sure that Ysobel is interpreting this correctly, yet certainly the reader can see why she does. But if it is Lucius that is in charge, perhaps she is seeing clearly. As the reader does not know which, has the viewpoint she has shared with the reader in her side of the tale similarly potentially flawed? Is she so clear sighted after all?

Bray is a very skilled writer, and her understanding of the nature of the flawed hero seems to shine through in this very original tale, from all three central characters. Well worth a read.
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