Author: Robert V.S Redick
Pages: +- 513
This book is part of a series
A grand ship departs from a harbor in the Empire of Arqual. 600 years ago this ship was built and named the Chathrand. For a very long time this was a magnificent ship of war, a floating outpost of the empire, but now its goal appears to be peace. The ship is to make sail for Mzithrin, an enemy empire, to deliver a young noblewoman so that she can marry a Mzithrini Prince and so bring peace to both empires.
But, is everything what it appears to be? Or is the last mission of the Chathrand not meant to bring peace, but war instead?
It began, as every disaster in his life began, with a calm. The harbor and the village slept. The wind that had roared all the night lay quelled by the headland. The Bosum grew too sleepy to shout.”
Pazel, a tarboy on a ship known as the Eniel, has a secret nobody knows. More than five years ago, when all was well and his homeland was not destroyed by the Arquali, his mother bestowed a gift upon him. As a result he can now understand, and speak, every language spoken to him or about him, without having to learn it. However this gift can be a curse as well, because after some days of enjoying the gift, he will get a seizure. This seizure will ensure that nobody can understand him, and that he can’t understand a single word spoken to him. When found out, it will mean certain death for Pazal. But somehow, fate brings him to the Chathrand.
While Pazel finds his way to the great ship, another person finds her fate changed.
Thasha, daughter of Admiral Isiq, wishes to leave the school she sees as a prison. She hates the women who teach her, hates everything around her, and most of all detests the woman who, in Thasha’s opinion, is to blame for her situation. Her father’s consort, Syrarys, has her father’s hart in her hands but Thasha is sure that she is planning something.
When suddenly she is called back by her father, she thinks of herself as the most lucky to escape her prison… Only to arrive at her elderly home to be informed that she is to marry a Mzitrini Prince.
Admiral Isiq, his consort and Thasha will not sail with an ordinary ship, but with the Chathrand.
While Thasha desperately wants to flee from her marriage, Pazel tries to stay alive, only to find out that everything is not the way it seems. Peace seems not to be the goal for this last voyage of the ship, but war again. For the ship bring with it a dangerous dark power, one that seeks the ultimate source to become the king of kings, the ruler of all the world.
And then it even looks like the dead, are not really as dead as everyone thought.
It all comes together, in The Red Wolf Conspiracy.
On that first occasion his gift lasted three days- and ended as it always would, in a mind-fit.
This was pure horror. Cold talons seized his head, the odor of custard apples filled his mouth and nostrils, and the purr rose to an ugly, hysterical sqauwking. Pazel shouted for his mother. But what came from his mouth was nonsense, a baby’s blather, noise.
I liked this book.
There was a lot of detail in it and I liked the way Redick brought the whole life-on-a-ship-thing it was very well written and made it imaginable to even me. Also a plus is the way he created this world including history, animals, superstitions, religions and so on. He created this all included view of this world in which there is war between empires. There’s even a thing called The imperial boys registry, when a boy not from Arqual origin goes there he can buy his citizenship.
Though at some points there are gaps in the time line, which are later filled when you’ll hear it spoken off between characters, I didn’t find this irritating.
What I didn’t like so much was that in the last quarter of the book, everything seemed to go too fast. Let me explain:
Throughout the whole, everything builds up slowly. You’ll get to know about Pazel and his story, Thasha and hers, the conspiracy… and then in the end everything is somewhat forced to go faster, or so it seemed to me. A lot suddenly fell together too quickly. And because of that I would have liked a different ending. Not that I don’t want the read the sequel, I almost always want to read the sequel, but that was not because of a great cliffhanger or anything, that was more because of the little sneak peak in the back of my edition.
So in short:
I liked it but it could have been better. There were moments of love, there were moments when I caught myself thinking: so… that happened.
There was great detail, I love the way Redick made the world real and touchable as it were. There is magic in this book but not overly much and so it is a tool to keep events interesting, I think.
Because I liked most of the story, but there were some points that I disliked, I’ll give this book 3.5 stars (yes, I can do that too).