4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
A darker, intriguing and very satisfying follow up
, 27 Jan. 2010
This review is from: The Rats and the Ruling Sea (Paperback)
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.
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