|Series: The Inner Sea Cycle #1||Rating: 3.5/5|
|Date of Publishing: April 5th 2011||Genre: fantasy, epic fantasy, myhtological fiction, sword & sorcery|
|Format: Kindle||Available: Amazon, Barnes & Noble|
|Number of pages: 360||Author’s website: http://www.thedragontower.co.za/|
Quote of the Book
“That’s why you’re captain,” Ret muttered to himself, “you’re mad enough to enjoy this.”
All oceans are one ocean, water without end. Every story, every legend you have ever heard about the sea is true somewhere and at the heart of it all there is a truth that shapes the destiny of all other worlds, including our own: the Inner Sea The Endless Ocean is the story of Clare and Adrian Watts find themselves suddenly caught up in the currents of this larger world. With the arrival of a shipwrecked sailor their lives are forever changed as they are swept into a world of ritual and myth where only their unique heritage holds any hope of averting impending destruction.
I’ve read this book as part of SPFBO. It’s one of Fantasy Book Review’s 30, and one I had my eyes on from very early on. Since I’m no judge, my rating won’t influence the outcome. To follow our progress, check out my SPFBO4 page where you can find interviews and articles as well as reviews!
Song of the Book
Whoa, until the moment I finished this review and was about to publish I had no idea what song I should pick. So I went and browsed through my mp3 player and when I saw Bring Me to Life I thought “well, why not?” So I checked the lyrics to make sure, and holy hell, this is perfect. Maybe except the love part, but hey, this is as close as I can get at the moment. I can link parts of it to Lilith, Adrian and Clare in a way.
Since I finished the book I’ve been thinking about how on earth I’m going to review this without spoilers. Or where to start to begin with. The blurb doesn’t give away much and aside my instincts, I had no idea what to expect. And still, it picked my interest when it got assigned to FBR in the SPFBO contest. Turns out my initial feelings were right, because since then it had become one of the semi-finalists. And not without reason. The Endless Ocean is an adventurous tale with a lot of mythological influence and interesting ideas. It definitely deserves some more attention and a bit of care from the author.
At the beginning, we get to know two orphans, Clare and Adrian who each has their magical skills which they learn to improve at an institute. Adrian is a top student and is way ahead of his classmates, while Clare struggles with her studies and has to work hard to meet the expectations of her teachers. From the sound of it they only have each other and Adrian’s familiar, Eko the gecko (who is actually my favorite character besides Silth). One day circumstances lead them to meet Bill the pirate who harbors his own secrets which he is reluctant to share and he is quite fond of his own voice – also he is the one who presents all the info dumping most of the time – and is a know-it-all character. I liked him at first, but then I just wanted to punch him in the face as the story advanced. He is part of the so-called Brotherhood which goal is to fight against Lilith (more of her later) and her followers who try to wreak havoc between the remaining kingdoms of the Inner Sea by separating Cartha from the others. They are also the only ones who still offer safety to the Brotherhood, consisting a lot of pirates.
The twins, Clare and Adrian are forced to part with each other and they both take a different kind of journey which leads them to their own adventure and learning process about the world. and their abilities. Clare becomes a Navigator under Bill’s tutelage and learns how to fight with a sword, while Adrian ends up on an island called Negra, home of Lilith, the villain of the story. Seeing how many mythological elements Bennett used in this book, I’m fairly sure this choice of name is intentional. According to some legends, Lilith was the first woman, wife of Adam who gave birth to a few monsters after leaving Adam and the Eden. She is also known as a demon. All in all, she is not being remembered as one of the good guys. And since I’m at myths and legends. I’ve already mentioned we’ve got quite a mix here: Atlantis, Minotaur and his labyrinth, a nod to Anubis, an egyptian god, to the Kraken/Leviathan, to the sirens and I’m pretty sure the prison and the island it stands on has some link to other stories. Of course Bennett added his own twist and in some cases he only gives a small nods to these beings and legends. Obviously, he has a wide knowledge in this area and he is not afraid to use it. He built up a really detailed world, with some cool additions like traveling between worlds through gates. All of these worlds are different and feels like we don’t only travel geographically, but in time too – some has modern feel to them, some are more ancient, having their own society and customs. We only get glimpses at some of these, but I’m hoping that we can explore more of these in later books. My favorite original idea in this book was the usage of figureheads. I’m not going to spoil things, let’s just say it was an element which really got me by surprise and had a significant part in the story. They totally come out of the blue and their appearance doesn’t really make sense in the beginning but that’s more a problem on the writing part.
Talking about writing. I quite liked Bennett’s style of writing, his narration is flowing and he is able to give life to his world. It needs a bit of work though on the editing part, but there is no question that the man is talented.
“One minute the only source of light was the prison in the distance, the next a vast metropolis was spread below him. Ziggurats lit in green and violet; strange lights played beneath him, shimmering and distorted in the hot air.”
Even so, he fails in characterisation. It’s hard to connect with any of them, despite their hardships. I just couldn’t make myself care much about them and they felt a bit flat. I guess it tells a lot that both my favorite characters are sidekicks. Most of the characters remain distant, which might be because of the omniscient POV. The story was also a bit predictable, which was supposed to be a big reveal wasn’t really surprising. Plus it uses a well-known trope without any twist and thus being a bit cliché. To his credit though, Clare is quite a badass heroine who can protect and stand up to herself.
This book is a rough diamond which needs some polishing, but man, you can see it shine anyway. The Endless Ocean is a tale of a great adventure to fantastical worlds, pirates, ancient creatures. Sinbad’s adventures meets legends of the ancient era, giving birth to an epic fantasy worth your time.