Thursday, June 29, 2017

SciFi/Fantasy Book Review: The Serpent Sea (Books of the Rakshura #2) by Martha Wells

Long Review after the Jump (Very Minor Spoilers for The Cloud Moons):

The Serpent Sea is the second book in The Books of the Raksura series, after The Cloud Moons (Review at the blog here).  It takes place right after (more or less) the Cloud Moons left off, continuing the story of Moon and Indigo Cloud.  Unlike many 2nd books in other series, this book actually improves upon its predecessor, building on the first book to better develop some of the other members of Indigo Cloud as well as the newer characters that are introduced.

Note that this book in theory could be read as a stand alone, but I wouldn't recommend it.  That said, the below review will only contain at best MINOR spoilers for book 1, so it should be safe to read for people who skipped book 1 for some reason.

----------------------------Plot Summary----------------------------------
In The Cloud Roads, Shapeshifter Moon discovered he is a Raksura, a race of beings who shift between a human-like form and a gargoyle/dragon flying form. In that book, he discovered for the first time a community of his own people, the Indigo Cloud Court, and uneasily found a place for himself within the Court as the chosen consort of the Court's sister-queen, Jade.

Now, having survived the menace of the Fell (A Similar Species who are pretty much evil), Moon and the Indigo Cloud Court have journeyed to their ancestral home - a Mountain Tree in a land where Raksura are more common. But while they find their old and perhaps new home to be exactly what they need , they soon run into a major problem -  the Mountain Tree is dying as a result of someone stealing the Seed from the tree within the past two years.  If they don't find the seed soon...the tree will die, and Indigo Cloud will once again be homeless.

Moon, Jade, Stone, the mentor-turned-warrior Chime, and several other Raksura of Indigo Cloud will be forced to go on an adventure leading them to a city floating on top of a floating Leviathan, controlled by a dangerous wizard with a passion for collecting artifacts.  Can they manage to find the Seed and return it to the Mountain Tree before it's destroyed?  And just as importantly, will what Moon finds out about the ways of the Raksura in the process drive him away from Indigo Cloud just when he thought he might've finally found a place to settle down?

The greatest improvement The Serpent Sea has over The Cloud Moons is that it features development of several other characters aside from Moon, Jade and Stone.  Which is not to say those aren't the most important characters - Moon and Stone spend a substantial time alone together for example.  But the book also develops two other Raksura - Chime, who mysteriously transformed from a Mentor to a Warrior and is miserable as a result - and Rift, another solitary discovered in the adventure.  The book also develops several non-Raksura characters and just greatly expands upon this world as we find ourselves in another Raksura Court as well and learn how things are in a healthy large Court without Indigo Cloud's problems.

Wells' worldbuilding is really excellent, as we're basically introduced to a whole new side of this world in this book and it's just as impressive as you'd imagine, while being very different from that of the world shown in the first book.  And Moon's perspective, from which the entire series is shown, is very well written - it could be easy for his anxieties about fitting in and misunderstanding the Raksura culture to get annoying in lesser hands, but it fits naturally here.

If there's one flaw in this book, it's that the main plot arc is resolved with one chapter left to go, and then that final chapter features a totally new conflict seemingly out of nowhere that occurs and then is resolved nearly as quickly.  It's a weird way to conclude the book but otherwise, this book works really well.

Very Much Enjoyed this Series so far, and would recommend giving it a shot.

No comments:

Post a Comment