Kushiel’s Dart – Part IX

Heldig and a very good book

Heldig and a very good book

Hello everyone! Welcome to the read along of Jacqueline Carey‘s Kushiel’s Dart. You can find the schedule HERE. Anyone and everyone is welcome to join in. We also have a Goodreads group for SF/F read alongs. Folks are always welcome to join us.

This week, Emma at EmmaMaree.com is your host this week. Leave a link to your post in the comments so we can all visit you. Folks are also most welcome to answer any and all questions in the comments and join in the conversation.

Sorry for posting late. I was out of state over the weekend and returned really late last night.

Chapters 74-83 are covered below. If you haven’t read the book, there will be spoilers for these chapters.

1) Hyacinthe being trapped on the isle is a particularly cruel punishment for the people-loving Prince of Travellers. If you had his choice – a cutthroat life back in Night’s Doorstep, surrounded by friends and adventures, or a lonely but safe and privileged life on the island – which would you choose, and why?

I would go with the island life. After all, there are other people. I wouldn’t treat them as slavish servants, as the current Master of the Straights does. Think of all the book reading time I would have! And I bet I could learn to do some ocean archaeology with my new powers. And, if the D’Angelines win their war and Drustan & Ysandre wed, then the curse will be lifted and the waters clear. That means Hyacinthe, or myself if I was stuck out there, could have visitors, right? I would ask them to bring goats as they would provide companionship, milk, and meat.

2) Phedre remarks that the island people are truly human, and very different from d’Angelines with god blood in the veins. Through the story, the lines between myth and reality have become steadily blurrier: the gods are gone but they’ve left a kind of magic behind, and faces can rise up from the ocean. Is Phedre’s conceit just a form of Terra d’Ange vanity, or do you think there’s really something inhuman about the d’Angelines?

This line stays somewhat blurry for most of the series. I  believe there is gods’ blood in the veins of the D’Angelines. Some of Phedre’s deeds, especially later in the series, really testifies to that.

Yet, again, here we see that she prizes D’Angeline beauty and finds the people of the isles to be more crudely made. Later in the series, we see how events cause her to see this cultural, in-born conceit and what she does about it.

3) Phedre doesn’t share any of the details of her last night with Hyacinthe. After her no-holds-barred descriptions of previous lovers, this scene really stands out as unique. How do you feel about Phedre’s goodbye, and Hyacinthe leaving the spotlight? How do you think Hyacinthe will keep himself occupied in his new life — will he create a network on the island like he did on Night’s Doorstep, spying on the affairs of the world?

This is one of the things I really like about Carey’s  writing. She doesn’t toss in sex scenes just for the sake of sex and Phedre & Hyacinthe on the Island is a prime example. I think it was very sweet for these two friends who might have become more to have a tender goodbye.

While I have always liked Hyacinthe, I never really felt the book was about him. Quite frankly, I have always been OK with him leaving the spotlight. For this book, his character arc feels complete to me. He gave Phedre a safety net with his undemanding friendship, used his gifts to save Terre D’Ange, felt heartbreak of his own, and knew before Phedre did that he would be spending the rest of his foreseeable life on an island. It’s harsh, but it serves a deep purpose for the plot.

And, yes, I totally expect him to learn to use the big water bowl to spy on things back home.

4) When Phedre’s addressed as “Delauney’s Whore” by Ghislain de Somerville, everyone around Phedre draws a blade to defend her honour. Was it an over-reaction, or a fitting sign of Phedre’s new rank in society? How much has Phedre’s self-confidence evolved through the story: back to when she was an orphaned she often called herself a “whore’s get”, and later she called herself Delauney’s whore quite comfortably. This time, she’s as quick to correct Ghislain as her companions are.

I think it is awesome to see how Phedre’s station in life changes as she takes on more and more responsibilities and tasks. The D’Angelines as a whole don’t seem to judge a person by their past so much as what they are doing right now. De Somerville hasn’t seen Phedre in action until now and anything he heard about her deeds he could have easily chalked up to rumors or exaggerations.

I love how Phedre herself is finally comfortable with thinking of herself as something more than a whore or even a whore’s unwanted get. This is probably because she is no longer whoring ( to put it crudely) but rather has larger goals in mind. She isn’t simply trading her services to earn a marque or for a  night’s lustful pleasure. She is trying to safe a country, perhaps even two.

5) We’ve nearing the end of the story, and it’s been a heart-breaking ride this week, so let’s step back and look at the wider world of Terra d’Ange. If you were part of the Court of Night-Blooming Flowers, which house which you end up in? Have you changed enough from your childhood self that it would it be different from the House that raised you? (A quick list of the houses, their motto and values can be found here.)

This is an awesome question! I think Dahlia House (Upright and Unbending; dignity) might have been my childhood house. I was pretty demanding on myself even as a kid, always wanting to take on things my way. Some refer to me as a once very bossy kid. Now I would choose Orchis (Joy in Laughter; humor) as I seem to find humor in most things, even if it is a little twisted. My husband use to be alarmed at how much I laugh in bed, but quite frankly, a great orgasm is a breathtakingly awesome thing that makes me laugh in pure joy. Ever since I explained this to him, he strives to make me laugh all the more often! ;)

6) Moving even further beyond the Court of Night-Blooming Flowers, where this all began, and into the wide world: if you could belong anywhere in this world, where would you be? Sunning yourself in exotic Persian-inspired Khebbel-im-Akkad, fighting in rainy Alba, or harsh Skaldia, sleeping in front of crackling fires on a pile of warm furs? Would you be roaming in the Long Roads with the Tsingano, a scion of the Night’s Court, a player in the theatre or a pub landlord on Night’s Doorstep? Where would you like to be most, out of everywhere, and where would you absolutely *hate* to be stuck in?

Another awesome question. We don’t really venture into Khebbel-im-Akkad in this series, though I am always intrigued by it. I think I would most like to be at Perrinwolde, where Phedre learned how to ride. It’s out in the country, but still close enough to visit the big city and get more books. Later in the series, there is one other place I might want to call home but I will save that for future discussions.

I think I would hate being on the Long Road with the Tsingani. I need roots. We moved all the time as a kid and I really hated it and I feel it left a void in my life. I don’t have a home town nor childhood friends as we never lived anywhere longer than 4 years. So, I need a place to call home. I wouldn’t mind a few weeks travel with the Tsingani, but I would not like to travel all the time.

Other Tidbits

I like how Phedre’s Boys teach the warriors of Alba and Eire the new marching tune!

I like Phedre’s take on makeup – a little goes a long way.

Rousse has a pair of big brass balls! He called the Master of the Straights on his harsh BS more than once in this section.

Graine’s condolences over loosing Hyacinthe to the island were quite simple and nice. Sometimes when I struggle to think of what to say over someone’s loss, this scene springs to mind and I find words easier to come by

My question for everyone: Who would like to do a readalong of Book 2?

Participating Bloggers:

Celine at Nyx Book Reviews
Jenn at Morrison Girl
Kheya at Not Food Porn
Susan (me) at Dab of Darkness

Immortal Weaver by Sophia Myers

MyersImmortalWeaverWhere I Got It: Review copy.

Narrator: Tiffany Williams

Publisher: Sophia Myers (2014)

Length: 1 hour 38 minutes

Series: Book 1 The Fate Weavers trilogy

Author’s Page

Kathryn (Katie) McDounough is an intern journalist. She wants her big break into the field, one that will launch and secure her career. Working  for the Boston Commons, her first tough assignment is to successfully interview the notoriously eccentric author, Robert Staggs. But soon after the initial interview, odd things occur in Katie’s life. She digs into the mystery, but that may leave her dead.

This is a fun addition to the urban fantasy genre. It focuses on the three Fates of mythology. They probably started off Greek (the Moirai) as Robert Staggs suspect, but their names have changed as different cultures through the ages adopted them into their mythology. Now, in this modern era, the Fates seem rather interested in both Robert and Katie. But their interest is of a sinister nature and Katie experiences some scary and disturbing things. She has to outsmart Fate itself.

I really liked the mix of mythology, investigative reporting, action, and reflection. The story had a good pace and I wanted to listen to this book all in one sitting. The characters were easy to connect with and I was caught up in their story wanting to know how they were going to get out of the mess they are in. Over all, this book is clever and fun.

I was provided this audiobook at no charge by the narrator in exchange for an honest review.

The Narration:  Tiffany Williams was great. She had the perfect voice for Katie, providing the right amount of emotion as the situation warranted. She also had believable male voices. 

What I Liked: The Three Fates; investigative journalism; having to outsmart Fate itself; connected to the characters; I want to know how it all works out.

What I Disliked: Nothing! I really liked this tale.

What Others Think:

Ezine Articles

Teddy Bears in Monsterland by Justin Sloan

SloanTeddyBearsInMonsterlandWhere I Got It: Review copy

Narrator: Michael Gilliland

Publisher: Justin Sloan (2015)

Length: 2 hours 59 minutes

Series: Book 1 Teddy Defenders

Author’s Page

It’s the day before Thanksgiving. Rick and his sister go to bed dreaming of tomorrow’s meal – turkey legs and all. However, both are taken by monsters to Monsterland! Rick’s teddy bear, Ari, who comes alive at night, but pull together his courage and brave the dangers to save his boy and sister.

In this secondary world urban fantasy, Justin Sloan brings us a feel good tale of courage, bravery, facing down evil bullies, and true friendship (no matter what form it comes in). This tale had me laughing out loud on occasion as I pictured the determined or even angry faces on teddy bears as they went to arms. I loved the juxtaposition of ‘ferociously fighting’ and ‘teddy bears’. There’s plenty of other magical creatures in this story such as goblins. Ari starts off his adventure believing that any other teddy bear he comes across will give him a hand. He only had to worry about the monsters. Alas, things are not that simple. Quickly he learns that not all monsters look like monsters.

Meanwhile, Rick and his sister awake in cages. There are other kids, some who want to escape and some who have become a little comfortable bullying the newbies around. The monsters want to play with the kids, but this play is often too rough (think of a see-saw being used a catapult to launch kids into the air).

Most of the adventure is through Ari as he travels around Monsterland and deals with teddy bear factions and politicians, goblins, and other monster beasties. He has his first sip of honey and survives a bit of a sea voyage on a small raft. There’s plenty more, but I leave it  for you to explore.

My one little criticism is that the ladies have pretty minor roles. There’s Rick’s mom, who has like 3 lines. His sister has perhaps 6 lines. There are perhaps 2 female bears, one of which gets to help out quite a bit near the end. As usual, I would have enjoyed having the genders a bit more balanced.

All together, this was a fun, and often surprising, adventure story. Ari’s powers are untapped at the beginning of the story. But as he gains confidence and determination, his powers grow. Also, he shows kindness when he can and this is probably his greatest power, gaining him assistance and even friends. If you’re looking for a fun and heartwarming story, then look no further!

I received this audiobook from the author (via the GoodReads Audiobooks Group) at no cost in exchange for an honest review.

The Narration: Michael Gilliland was a good choice for this book. He had a nice light tenor voice for Ari. He imbued his voices with plenty of emotion as the scenes called for it. His range of emotions for Ari was great as Ari goes through quite a few emotions on his quest. Gilliland also had believable little kid voices and female voices.

What I Liked: The cover art; quite a fun adventure!; the goblins aren’t the only monsters; kindness means something; Ari’s powers increase as his confidence increases; a heartwarming tale and very satisfying ending.

What I Disliked: Could have used a few more female characters that added to the plot.

What Others Think:

Audio Book Reviewer

Marti Dumas Books

Giveaway & Interview: Sabrina Zbasnik, Author of Dwarves in Space

24956853Dear Darklings, please welcome Sabrina Zbasnik to the blog. She recently released her novel, Dwarves in Space, this past April and it looks thoroughly entertaining! We chat about MST3K, Chaucer, Halloween, and plenty more. Also, we have a giveaway! Sabrina is generously offering 2 ebook copies of Dwarves in Space. Scroll to the bottom for details.

What now-dead author would you like to interview? What are some of the things you would chat about?

My first thought is Terry Pratchett but that wound’s still a bit fresh and I’d probably be a blubbering mess. And what would we talk about? Even just asking about the weather would be entertaining not because he has to always be on, but because his mind comes in all the colors including octarine.

Jonathan Swift would last as far as “Excuse me, I’d like to — ah!” as he chased me off the Ouija board with a rake.

I suppose if I interviewed Chaucer I could ask him where they buried his body and who killed him, but I’d need a lot more e’s at the end of words to make sense out of him. And then it’d all end in another bawdy tale about the woman from Bath.

If you could, what book/movie/TV series would you like to experience for the first time all over again and why?

If there was one show I could go all Eternal Sunshine with it would probably be Mystery Science Theater 3000. I was one of those tape sharers back in ye olden times who wore out the VCR so bad for some episodes I can quote nearly the entire movie. Jack Frost, The Pumaman, Prince of Space, and Quest of the Delta Knights in particular are tattooed across my cerebellum.

From your own writings, are there any characters you would like to cosplay?

Variel would probably be the easiest. Just grab a Han Solo costume, cinch it up to fit a female waist and carry around fun sci-fi guns. Got to make sure to include her trademark cheek scar, but that’s easily done with makeup.

But the real fun one would be a character I haven’t technically published yet. She’s an orc named Zail and she’s more like the female version of Jayne from Firefly. There is no filter when it comes to her and she’s prone to finding the biggest weapon and carrying it around like a handgun.

ZbasnikDateFromHellIf you were asked to create the syllabus for a college class in SFF Humor & Satire, what books would be on there as required reading? As passing discussion?

All of Discworld and The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. There aren’t a lot of options outside of that, sadly. Much like how the superhero genre has gone full grimdark, speculative fiction can have funny moments but it’s supposed to be super serious in the end. Horror, now horror can be funny. There’s a very fine line between scary and hilarious, which is one that I mine often in my hobby of making Halloween props.

But if fantasy/sci-fi can use green skinned aliens to show the human condition, and humor is supposed to hold a looking glass upon society’s foibles why can’t you have both?

Then we’d probably all break early because I got my tie stuck in the pencil sharpener.

Care to share an awkward fangirl/fanboy moment, either one where someone was gushing over your work…..or one where you were gushing over another author’s work?

This is probably really embarrassing, but that’s never stopped me. I use NaNoWriMo – the national novel writing month – to drag novels out of me. At this point I’m doing about three a year, but for my very first one, I was near my 50K words and took a minor break on twitter. I typed something musing about how I mistook Garmin for Neil Gaiman and wondered what would happen if he navigated for cars. As I crossed the finish line he responded “I’d get us lost.”

I may have squealed more over that than actually writing my first 50K words of a novel. Hell, I still do.

The funny thing is now every October I make posters for his All Hallows Read, which is actually something I should be working on now. Nothing says autumn, pumpkins, and haunted cemeteries like the summer sun setting at 10pm.

ZbasnikTinHeroWhat do you do when you are not writing?

Crafting Halloween, and I’m not talking the cute Hobby Lobby like gourds. I have so many skeletons they won’t all fit in my closet. The basement is full of ghosts, goblins, ghoulies, spooks, and tentacles. I carve all of my tombstones out of foam and hand paint them. I have one I made for Edgar Allan Poe that’s so popular many people think it’s real. You can see some of my yard here.

I also do a bit of painting but it’s been waning due to the whole three novels a year idea. At best I can get in a few trees before Christmas and maybe in March before the Halloween crafting season kicks in.

What is a recurring or the most memorable geeky argument or debate you have taken part in?

Does me asking Chaucer where he’s buried count? God, I could easier catalogue the stars in the sky. I still want to know why no one is bothered that the Ewoks would cook their food alive and still in clothes? That’s gonna smoke and taste terrible. Someone get the Ewoks a better chef who can do more than Storm Trooper tartar!

What is the first book you remember reading on your own?

Go Dog Go, the definitive manual on canine transportation.

ZbasnikDwarvesInSpaceBook Blurb for Dwarves in Space:

Thousands of years after the jewelry’s destroyed, the sword reforged, the dragon ridden, and the indecipherable prophecy translated into a recipe for sugared biscuits, the dwarves turned to that final frontier: space. And along came the elves, orcs, gnomes, trolls, ogres, and those vermin-like upstarts, humans.

Dwarves in Space is Tolkien merged with Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy in a horrific transporter accident.

The Elation-Cru is not the flashiest ship, nor the newest, or even has all of its bolts attached; but she can fly. Well, sort of wade through space, and that’s when all the parts are working. She supports a sugar addicted dwarven pilot, an elven engineer, an orcish doctor, a silent djinn, and the lone human trying to hold the entire thing together with duct tape. Variel, the captain, has been hiding from a secret for the past five years and time’s finally run out.

When she goes against her common sense and fights to save her onboard assassin/renter from a job gone sour, she finds herself before an ex-colleague that knew her in her previous life as the Knight of the realm. The entire ship is sent on a mad dash across the universe — from a decaying space station, home to the wackiest species the galaxy has to offer, down to the Orc homeworld, which wouldn’t be so bad if Variel hadn’t spent most of her previous life fighting in the war against them. Chances of survival are nil and slipping fast.

Places to Find Sabrina Zbasnik

Purchase

Website

Facebook

Twitter

GoodReads

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MqpmReGzbKQ

Giveaway!

Sabrina is giving away 2 ebook copies of Dwarves in Space! So this giveaway is open international. Quick entry is to leave a comment answering the following question and leaving me a contact email: What is the first book you remember reading on your own? For additional entries, do the Rafflecopter thing below! Contest ends July 30th, 2015, Midnight.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

The Eyes of Texas by Lance Kennedy

KennedyTheEyesOfTexasWhere I Got It: Review copy

Narrator: Jack Chekijian

Publisher: Lance Kennedy (2015)

Length: 4 hours 2 minutes

Author’s Page

A secret organization that became known as the Eyes of Texas gained power in the 1970s over the student government of the University of Texas at Austin. Behind the scenes, they worked for years to promote the university’s initiatives and not the student government’s initiatives. This is a detailed look into that history and how this secret organization was forced out into the light.

On one hand I applaud the level of detailed information that went into this book. On the other hand, I think this book will appeal to only a small group of people. If you are really, really into secret societies or manipulation of large groups of people via shadow groups, then this is perfect for you. Also, I think fiction writers who are researching real secret societies would find this useful. As someone who was just looking for a book get away for a few hours, I found this book a bit tedious. It reads more like a lengthy legal document then a true tale packed with action and deceit.

This book also includes various excerpts (and sometimes who documents) from school emails, local news coverage, and communiques between the school government and the board that oversees the university. If you are researching this subject, then this book is an excellent reference work. If you are looking for some interesting, yet educational, light reading, then this probably isn’t the book for you. For myself, I often found my mind drifting while listening to this book. The same issues were brought up again and again as the book stayed true in detail to how issues and events were dealt with. However, for me, this became rather tedious. Still, if I ever need to research secret societies or the politics of large universities, I will be turning to this book for info.

I received a copy of this audiobook at no charge via the narrator in exchange for an honest review.

The Narration: Jack Chekijian did pretty well, though there wasn’t much need to vary his voice. When there was an email exchange, he did provide character voices. However, most of the book was delivered in a straight forward, newsreporter-like voice. 

What I Liked: The cover art; makes a good resource on the subject.

What I Disliked: Because of the extensive detail, I found this book a bit tedious and boring.

Interview: B. T. Lowry, Author of Fire from the Overworld

LowryFireFromTheOverworldFolks, please welcome author B. T. Lowry, author of Fire from the Overworld. We chat about pulling rickshaws, the consciousness behind all things, the Vedic pantheon, and much more! Please enjoy!

Myths and beliefs that we would consider fiction or fantasy in modern literature once upon a time shaped history (think of all the hunts for unicorns & dragons). Do you see modern fantasy fiction affecting human cultures today and how? 

Great question.  I definitely think that fantasy affects human cultures today.

I’ve heard that Tolkien was upset to see modern society losing its connection with mythology. He saw that these myths gave people moral guidance and connected them to deep truths, so he wrote The Lord of the Rings partly to reconnect readers to their mythological heritage. His story is rooted in ancient myths.

I believe that we will always crave myths and legends. Impartial logic can never fully satisfy a human being, because we are so multifaceted. Reality is subtle, expansive and multi-layered, and stories reflect this wonderfully.

Joseph Campbell argued that myths have reality in the subconscious world, but that they shouldn’t be taken literally. While I agree with this, I also feel that there are plenty of mysteries beyond the scope of scholarship, anthropology and science. Unicorns may not exist, but other myths could be historical records which are so outside our current cultural context that we can only classify them as fictional. We might rule out as impossible whatever it can’t understand, but we cannot say for certain what is real and what is not. The old cultures certainly had knowledge that we do not.

My own stories are largely rooted in the ancient teachings of India. These teachings speak about levels of consciousness where different kinds of beings reside, and give methods on how to go to each one. There are gods and other celestial beings, and lower beings too. Many consider all this to be mythology, but as in all traditions, the perspective sees things in a deeper way than the observer. Call me pretentious, but like Tolkien, I hope that some deeper truths resonate my fiction. I’d like the reader to get both a good story, and something substantial to consider. That’s the kind of fiction I like.

Given the opportunity, what fantastical beast of fiction would you like to encounter in the wild? Which would you avoid at all costs? Would you take a selfie with the beastie?

I would like to encounter Airavata, the four-tusked elephant carrier of Lord Indra, the leader of the demigods in the Vedic pantheon. I would avoid Vrtrasura, a massively powerful demon who is an enemy of Indra.

Even though at heart he was a self-realized sage, Vrtrasura somehow found himself in the role of a great enemy of the gods. In their final showdown, Vrtrasura actually schooled Indra on the principles of being a ruler and a warrior.

If I had a camera and it didn’t break the mood, I might just take a selfie with Vrtrasura :)

Conventions, book signings, blogging, etc.: what are some of your favorite aspects of self-promotion and what are some of the least favorite parts of self-promotion?

You know, I’m very new to promotion. In fact, this is my first blog interview! Initially I did not want to do any promotion. I just wanted to live in my cave, writing away. But slowly I started a site and am now putting up a new scene each week. Readers can vote which scene they’d like to see made into a story. And I’m gradually figuring out what to do next.

I love to connect with people interested in the same kind of things that I am, and to hear how they feel about my work. I just wish I didn’t have to go through all the technical stuff to meet them!

What has been your worst or most difficult job? How does it compare to writing?

I pulled a rickshaw in the wee morning hours through the streets of Calgary, Canada. Mostly my customers had been drinking, and I would bring them to their home or their car. It was a weird job because I saw the seedy underbelly of the city – drugs and violence and sex. I got hit on many times a day by men and women, and sometimes offered money for… services. I didn’t take it! I lost some of my innocent outlook during that job, though it did get me to India for the first time.

Compared to writing, that job was hell. Writing is such a great creative outlet. I can make an entire movie in words, with no budget and no crew. But I do draw from the experiences I’ve had in my life, like the ones in that weird job, so I can’t say I regret it.

Do you have any superstitions?

Ha! I sometimes find myself avoiding walking under ladders and such, just in case.

I also have convictions which others might consider superstitions. I believe that plants and animals are conscious beings, not so different from us. I think there is consciousness behind the movements of the clouds and rivers and oceans, kind of like nature gods. I can’t believe that everything is just made up of inert chemicals, moving around by chance. I think there is consciousness behind everything. In this way I relate more with the old cultures of the world than the post-renaissance scientific worldview.

LowryFireFromTheOverworldBook Blurb of Fire from the Overworld:

“Fire from the Overworld” is a terrific debut!” -David Farland, New York Times Bestseller.

Two students of natural magic study under their master, living in a desert village. One, a young woman, travels from her body to higher realms. She finds a battle raging there which threatens their world. The other, a young man, enters the minds of humans and animals. There he uncovers a spreading psychic disease.

To restore balance, she must leave everyone she holds dear. He must skirt into the realm of death.

Filled with extraordinary adventure and mysticism, Fire From the Overworld takes the reader on an inner and outer journey. This is Epic Fantasy rooted in ancient wisdom.

Places to Find B. T. Lowry

btlowry.com

twitter.com/BTLowry,

facebook.com/btlowry

The Atomic Sea Vol. 1 by Jack Conner

ConnerTheAtomicSeaVol1Where I Got It: Review copy.

Narrator: Ray Greenley

Publisher: Jack Conner (2015)

Length: 6 hours 40 minutes

Series: Book 1 The Atomic Sea

Author’s Page

In a future Earth, the seas have become tainted with a mix of radiation, mutated dangerous sea life, and who knows what else. This taint can affect humans who eat affected seafood or fall into the oceans. Small nations of humans survive, but war is imminent. Dr. Avery, aboard a Ghenisian military whaling ship, stumbles upon espionage and perhaps something more when a mysterious unconscious woman is brought aboard.

This was a crazy cool mix of mutated sea beasties, military fiction, a touch of murder mystery, and espionage. The Cthulu spawn coupled with the dark, imminent danger atmosphere of this book had me hooked from the beginning. As a biologist, I was geeking out over the mutated sea life but also the chemical and/or biological weapons the Octung enemies kept throwing at Ghenisia. Later in the story, we have some human diseases, even mutations, brought about by eating tainted sea food, and the wicked biologist in me enjoyed that as well.

Dr. Francis Avery is an interesting man as well. He is not your typical hero. He’s an alcoholic, middle years, balding, not so sure of himself, and for part of the story, he is a little easy to  manipulate. All this made him a very interesting character. He has the remnants of some high ideals, as much as the world he lives in will allow him, but by the end those once pristine black & white areas have all gone grey for him.

Captain Sheridan is also interesting. She was hard for me to guess what side of things she stood on and I very much enjoyed that. Dr. Avery spends quite a bit of time trying to figure her out as well. She is also a woman accustomed to getting her way in nearly everything, including the bedroom (which Avery well knows). I liked that the sex between them wasn’t all mushy but was completely focused on release of tension and lust. After all, this is a hard world and it breeds hard people, men and women alike.

The mysterious woman Layanna was brought up out of the sea unconscious. She poses a quandary as she is unblemished and remains that way while in sick bay. Perhaps she is some human genetic experiment gone right – making it possible for humans to remain untouched by the tainted sea. Perhaps she is a myth, something higher than humanity. At any rate, she is an item the Octung want and the Ghenisia government will want once they know about her.

Then we have all this cool espionage stuff going on in the background. Who aboard the Ghenisian whaler is dropping secret messages overboard? Who can Dr. Avery trust? Who killed those two sailors? So many questions for him to resolve!

Toss in big brawling Janx with his rag tag mutant, tattooed friends and you have quite the story! Indeed, I really enjoyed this book.

I was provided this audiobook at no charge from the author via the GoodReads Audiobooks Group in exchange for an unbiased review. Thanks!

The Narration: Ray Greenley did an amazing job with this book. He really brought the characters to life and made them all distinct. He had believable female voices. I especially liked his voice for Janx and that of Janx’s buddy (who he fights in an organized match). 

What I Liked: The cover art; excellent narration; mutated sea beasties!; biowarfare; tainted seas; espionage; sex without the mushiness; Dr. Avery is a complicated guy; mutated humans; murder mystery; so ready for Book 2!

What I Disliked: Nothing – I really enjoyed this book. 

What Others Think:

Rich’s Random Book Blog

Simon Goodson