This was on my review request list and I am chugging right along getting as many of these done as possible, focusing on this list until the end of the year. I’ve read and written reviews for four books off my review request list this week! BAM!!!!!
Santiago is going on an adventure. A suicidal adventure. A suicidal adventure to find a lost island full of wealth and treasures that most have never seen before. Only one person has made it back from this coast and he’s a little bananas, who knows if what he said was true or not. There have been four other ships that have already been lost at sea trying to make this trek, but Santiago remains undeterred. His thinking is that surely he’ll be the one to make it — probably just like those other ships. The region of the ocean/the island they’re sailing towards is full of sharp rocks and dense fog — not great if you’re on a wooden ship.
Santiago is not actually a captain of a ship, he’s an explorer and has to find a captain and crew to go on this suicidal adventure with him. No one wants to do it. So he goes to the Queen to ask for financing to grease the wheels a bit for these reluctant captains. He gets half the financing he needs from the Queen accompanied by threats to get the rest on his own, to then go get the treasure from the island, and to come back and pay his debt or rue the day he was born.
So, he finds a crazy merchant who’s willing to put up the other half of the funds and they set off on an adventure of a lifetime. One of the four ships lost at sea belonged to his mentor/father who disappeared a long time ago never to come back, and that’s truly the driving force behind this voyage. He just hasn’t told anyone.
Santiago has an apprentice named Saldana and she was quite endearing. I really enjoyed the back and forth banter between them. Their banter was just enough to be amusing while not going over the line to be annoying or grating.
This has a great sense of adventure. I thought I would be annoyed by the really rich merchant who wants to be Robinson Caruso, but he ended up being likeable. I was moving right along until about 45-50%, and then there was a drag until 75%. I tend to lose steam with adventure books if I don’t feel there’s a connection between all the stop-alongs. There was also quite a big chunk/scene revolving around a poker game. Unfortunately, I’m not into poker, so this just added to the drag I was starting to feel at the halfway point. This isn’t unique to this book. I tend to have this issue with “going on a quest” kind of books where they start exploring different parts of the world. It can work for me sometimes, but other times I’m just tapping my foot waiting for them to get to their destination so the “story” can start, and this started to stray into the later category when I hit the 70% mark and they still hadn’t gotten there yet. But, at least there was a bit of tension added back into the story at that point, both in overall stakes and in interpersonal conflict that picked my interest back up and carried me to the end.
This is very low fantasy, it’s a pirate fantasy more than anything else and so there’s almost no magic, really. There was brief talk of dragons and whatnot but they were dismissed as not real, and they didn’t show up in the book, either. But some other fantasy creatures did make an appearance towards the end. Some weird shit/fantasy stuff started happening around like 75%, and then after that things really take a left turn for the strange and unexpected. How much you like the ending will vary. I can certainly say didn’t see it coming, but to discuss any more than this would be unbelievably spoilery.
Overall, I thought this was a neat nautical adventure, but maybe as a personal taste thing I feel I was adjacent to the target audience. I enjoyed it, but the ending did throw me off a bit. It was at least left open to interpretation, if it hadn’t been, it would have been quite jarring. This is a complete book, in that it stands by itself and although there might be more stories out of this world later, the story wraps up by the end. So if you’re looking for a single serve book this could be for you.
- Plot: 10/15
- Characters: 11/15
- World building 11/15
- Writing 12/15
- Pacing 10/15
- Originality 12/15
- Enjoyment 6/10
final score: 72/100